Tag Archives: sarcasm

Do Unto Others

I was minding my own business, at the bar nursing a drink,
when a big old boy slid onto the next stool;
he ordered a cheap, cold one for a buck fifty, I think,
then turned to me and said, “I’m no one’s fool.”

Now, I’m of the opinion that a bar in a small town
is no place for a liberal point of view;
and so I simply grunted in a noncommital way
and tried to figure out what I could do.

He wanted conversation, so I gathered from his tone,
on politics in general, and the war;
he waxed on philosophic while I tried hard not to moan
for nearly two full hours, maybe more.

The gist of his opinion, if you want to call it that,
was that world was too big for its jeans,
and those old fashioned values he prized were being left flat.
I finally had to ask him what’d he mean.

He said, “I said it once before, my mama didn’t raise no fool:
the answer’s pretty simple, seems to me.
It’s only application of that saw from Sunday School,
that’s what America needs to be free:”

Do unto others; make it a pre-emptive strike.
That way they won’t talk back and make you do things you don’t like.
Apply the golden rule and we can keep the world in line;
and freedom’s light will continue to shine.

Do unto others; pay it forward, so to speak.
If they say something you don’t like, just knock ’em in next week.
Apply the golden rule before they sneak one in on you;
Now that’s what this great country ought to do.

I’d had about enough of this, as you can understand,
when he slid his bar stool back and took his feet;
He said, “nice talking to you, I can see you’re a good man.”
I nodded to the barman — whiskey, neat.

The good old boy departed, and I lifted up my glass
to toast his shadow as it slipped away.
It was obvious in our debate, I’d simply been outclassed;
or overcome with silence, you might say.

I said to the bartender, who was an old friend of mine:
“I wonder where they come from, these great fools.”
He said, with a big grin, “They wander in here all the time,
from hunting, chasing skirts or buying tools.”

They all say …

Do unto others; stop that terror in its tracks.
That way no one will argue, and we can all just relax.
Apply the golden rule and we can keep the world in line;
and freedom’s light will continue to shine.

Do unto others; pay it forward, so to speak.
If they say something you don’t like, just knock ’em in next week.
Apply the golden rule before they sneak one in on you;
Now that’s what this great country ought to do.

14 FEB 2007

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Half Crazy

I’ve always been a fan of reggae, calypso and island music in general; and the songs “Margaritaville” and “Two Pina Coladas” seemed to be missing what I’ve always seen as a crucial element in the description of relationship recovery: that madness, or craziness, that seems to engulf you on both the way in and way out, particularly where a protracted separation is required both medically and legally. A number of my songs touch on this factor in one way or another, with the ultimate purpose of finding something to laugh about in the situation as the best therapy.

I’ll tell you that I almost lost it
once or twice but now I’m doing fine.
There may have been an incident that put me down
somewhere along the line.
I’ve been held back, and I’ve lost track,
it got to be too much and I got lazy;
they tell me parts don’t make the whole, but
no one’s ever really just half crazy

I’ll tell you I was loco over you
but now I’ve come back to my sense.
Still, any man who’s studied Freud will tell you
there’s no middle of the fence;
and I’ll admit there’s quite a bit of time
where what I did is kinda hazy
I’m no exception to the rule, ’cause
no one’s ever really just half crazy

You told me that I’d done things wrong,
that I’d forgotten how to talk to you;
and furthermore, you’d gotten sore
that I could never give you what you’re due.
That may be so, but I don’t know,
the right and wrong of it still kinda phase me —
seems like we’re two sides of the same mind:
no one’s ever really just half crazy

You acted like you didn’t want
the things I did because they were insane,
and made me question who I was and every thought
that came into my brain.
I’ve been a wreck, in retrospect
you really should have known you couldn’t save me;
but knowing’s just one piece of mind and
no one’s ever really just half crazy

1997

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Graduation Day Approaches

My daughter graduates from high school tomorrow. This momentous occasion reminds me of the dreadful speeches I had to sit through at my own high school graduation, some 22 years ago. You know the kind of speeches I’m talking about, the ones where the valedictorian or student with perfect attendance or what-not gets up and stammers through some sappy, saccharine set of sentimentalism and invariably ends with some kind of prayer-cum-schoo l fight song-inspirational ditty that’s supposed to make this particular nerd somehow respected and/or admired by the rest of the graduating class, if only for a matter of minutes. The speech, and I must say I’ve heard it in various incarnations both at my own graduation, my younger brothers and sister’s graduation, and those of several sets of cousins, goes like this:

G is for gratitude …
R is for respect …
A is for achievement …
D is for dedication …
U is for unity …

and so on, with each letter receiving a focus of about 10 minutes of drivel that usually ends up with everyone feeling like their nose is a little browner, the school board is a little less evil, and the teachers really are going to miss the departing devil class one more time.

But these speeches invariably don’t offer any kind of insight into what the real world is like, or what students can really expect once they’ve left the safety of their parents’ nest and tried to find their way in the reality of paying for themselves. So maybe the speech should be more like this.

G is for groveling … which is something you’ll need to learn well, in order to make your way in a society that discourages genius, looks down on free-thinking of all sorts, and uses social and peer pressure as a means for ensuring conformity with a standard you probably will never live up to.

R is for retirement … which is something you’ll be looking forward to for the next 30 or 40 years.

A is for assholes … who you will encounter not only as employers, but as co-workers, neighbors, roommates, professors, on the commute to work, at the gym and even occasionally in your own home.

D is for debt … which from this day forward you will be encouraged to live with.

U is for underappreciated … which reflects the way you’ll feel, particularly if you are not a white male, but even then on occasion.

A is for aging … the process of which you have already begun, but like “no payments due until next fall” will not recognize for the ballooning mortgage on your life it is until you are too far gone to recover.

T is for time … which you have, until this juncture, taken for granted, thinking in relative terms that in your short lifespan, 10 years is more than half your life, and thus a long time. Ten years from now, you will be wondering where the hell the decade went, and why most of your dreams are yet to be achieved. That, my friends, is relativity.

I is for intimidation … the method by which most employers, co-workers, neighbors, roommates, professors, and other individuals classified under A above will attempt to coerce your vote, support, volunteer labor, hard-earned cash, and yard maintenance equipment.

O is for overworked … a state which you have yet to fully experience, having to this juncture most likely not been responsible for producing food, or the wherewithal to purchase food, for yourself or your dependents.

N is for never … the point in time at which you will be able to sit back, reflect on your laurels, and feel better than you do right now. So enjoy it while it lasts. Once you’re old enough to drink legally, there’s not much excuse to do so.

23 MAY 2005

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Ambrose Bierce

Despite the bitterness that hits the tongue
when you first taste his clever barbs of prose,
and one’s initial gumption to suppose
his wit just tiny pearls amidst some dung,

there is in Bierce an underlying faith
in humankind, despite his cynic’s guise;
it shows itself no matter how he tries
or fancies life a trifling, mundane waste.

His sorrow, I think, comes from knowing much
of the dark underbelly, which he fights
against by piercing shadows of the night
that meet the world of light at twilight’s touch.

To chronicle life’s whole palette is his aim,
beyond the lines and simple white and black;
and so, his characters are flawed, and lack
the standard heroes’ virtues. In his frame,

the villains wear the white hats, and the good
can be perverted or mislead by ruse;
great ladies, too, pass wind; the mighty lose
to freaks of chance, when you least think they should.

With Ambrose as our culture’s looking-glass,
we gain needed perspective on ourselves;
the less authors like him are on our shelves,
it’s far more likely that we are an ass.

07 MAY 2005

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Hell is to the North

They say the way is often well-paved and leads
down along the map. But I have wondered, lying listening
to the constant rain, about the benefits of concrete
and steel until it dawns on me.

The say that Mecca is to the east or west,
but when you’re on your knees, the direction is down –
to me, that means the South.

The sins in the cities of time are alloyed
from two parts innocence, one part greed and often,
a helping of guilt for good measure. Opportunity,
they say, canvasses more limited neighborhoods
than he used to. If you ain’t on his route, he won’t
knock.

But I know this – real chances don’t wait; they don’t
stand at the door and look in the windows. They’ll slip
in the kitchen by the screen, ’round midnight, like a thief,
and your wrought iron gates won’t help you none.

And further, when the sun won’t as much as shine
there’s not much chance of seeing the light, you dig?

You can sit here in darkness and cold, if you like,
But maybe you’ll be doing it alone.

I say, “That’s Hell.”

As for me, I shall move down to New Orleans;
and when the wind blows heavy with sweat I shall laugh –
for although rumor and sense might otherwise indicate,
the actual gates of Hell are located
much further North.

1995

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