Here is the Crossroads


Here is the crossroads where you finally know
you’re too old to say you’ll die young.
It’s early summer; fall’s on the horizon.
Your spring has most definitely sprung.

It’s not about giving up on your wild days,
but some dreams must wither and die.
Sooner or later the moving parts wear out;
to think otherwise is to lie.

What was appealing in the hope of vanity,
the religion of your youth,
just lingers on as weary, sad echo;
embarrassing, to tell the truth.

You will get older; or else, the alternative:
cease to get any at all.
If you’re not into the dog days of summer,
there’s no way to make it through fall.

Here is the crossroads where you must decide
for the future, or cling to the past;
let the illusion you’re living youth’s fantasy
go, or else you might not last.

26 APR 2007

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Burning Down


If you ain’t got your thing together, what is it that you want with mine?
If you ain’t got your thing together, what is it that you’ll do with mine?
We’re running ’round in circles, and you’re running out of time.

If you don’t know where you’re headed, why do you keep me hangin’ ’round?
If you’re not sure where you’re headed, why just keep me ‘hangin ’round?
Our time is growing shorter, and your candle’s burning down.

I don’t mind coming on for the ride, babe,
but I’ve got my own life left to lead;
and I don’t have the time to mess around here,
just ’cause you wanna waste your time on me.

If you don’t know who you’re looking for, why is it that you call my name?
If you don’t know who you’re looking for, why do you go and call my name?
Our candle’s growing shorter, and you’re burning out the flame.

If you don’t know what you want, girl, what makes you think that you want me?
If you don’t know what you want now, why in the world do you want me?
I’m tired of wasting precious time; our fire has become history.

I don’t mind just traveling along, babe,
but I’ve got problems of my own;
and I don’t have the time to sit and wait here,
’cause you don’t want to be alone.

If you don’t know what it is, girl, how do you know you’ll find it here?
If you don’t know what it is, girl, how do you know I’ve got it here?
We’re running ’round in circles, baby, and our time is drawing near.

If you ain’t got your thing together, baby, what you gonna do with mine?
If you ain’t got your thing together, why should I trust you with mine?
We’re running ’round in circles, darling, and just running out of time.

1996

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Along for the Ride


There are times when I’m determined
(or at least, some times I feel)
that my life should find its purpose
in constructing something real:
an edifice in marble, some landmark
of stone and steel,
so that my passing leaves some sign.
Such thoughts have their appeal
when I imagine that my hands
are tight upon the wheel,
and that this life is more than just
what cards the world may deal.

To leave a mark upon this earth,
to feel a sense of pride;
a man seeks to find meaning
where two roads may coincide:
to make finite steps forward,
rather than to merely slide
along inside the slipstream,
carried onward by the tide;
to know that one has gathered up
enough good sense inside
to choose the path their feet would walk,
one’s wisdom undenied.

Yet other times, it seems to me,
I think with greater sense,
and ponder with less confidence
my whole experience:
a lifetime spent in wondering,
in straddling the fence,
denying often greater truths
for lack of evidence
(at least, the kind that leaves its spoor,
some fleeting track or scent)
and feeling lost inside a maze
of moments, gained and spent.

So then what does it matter
whose hands are upon the wheel?
Both journeys planned and unrehearsed
have proven their appeal.
Too often my decisions
(or their counterpart, no choice)
result in finding chaos
where I cannot hear my voice.
What destination beckons?
Let the universe decide;
for I am just a passenger
come along for the ride.

02 JUN 2006

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The Honkytonk Manifesto


Real country music is not defined by its performers, recording studios or media labels. It is not a style of music so much as it is the embodiment of a way of life.

Real country music’s appeal is universal because it is at its heart uniquely and profoundly personal.

Real country music is always more applicable regionally or geographically than nationally or internationally. Without each region having its own local flavor and style, country music as we know it would never have been birthed, or evolved.

As a result, real country music may require a commitment of the entire heart, sound and mind of its writers, singers, musicians and listeners. That is because they do not define country music. It defines them.

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Words Burst the Thirteen Open


“I have nothing to say and I am saying it; that is poetry.” — Thirteen Words, John Cage

What it is or was mulled over like cheap wine
we drank although we didn’t know it and so we
called our passions sad mistakes and so refused
to comprehend but never mind it overall and if
you’re sorry that’s the price or so you say but
I was giving it free of charge in case you didn’t know

(grow old with me I said
as childishly I pulled you through the grass across the lawn
behind the backs
of those
who paid themselves to watch)

What it is or was and in the end became to be
because when I just happened to you accidents
can happen to love you and there’s nothing else
to say and my mistake was letting you believe
that I could accept nothing free of charge.

(grow close to me I said
as hopelessly I let you block the light across my soul
behind the house of cards
I built myself
to watch fall down)

Where do you think those words came from?
Did you think I was kidding?

Would I have struggled through this:
aborted our unborn children,
burnt our home together down with deliberate matches,
killed the part of me that made you love me
just so you could sleep easier knowing
it was one less decision you had to make?

Look, here is the moon you wanted!

In my worthless, bloodied hands you see it;
it is what you want, but my having it makes it dirty;
you look away – the sight of me
with your sky makes you weep.

I am the sacrilege in your dream.

Your emasculated knights could never bring it close,
the feeble soldiers for whom you feel appropriate,
but I have held it here with me for three months now,
fought dragons and returned near death,
in vain, to hang it on your wall.

Although you want it, you must not take it from me –
that would mean something, a commitment.
I refuse to let myself be shamed by your refusal
of it; it was not the moon at all you sought,
but mere reflection of it:
substance, not the style that hides it,
is the gift you turn from.

That is my flaw, that I have substance without style,
truth without flowers –
these are my bitter pills,
presented without their sugar armor.
What it is or could have or to have not anything
about will never weep my secrets:
I have cast myself into this pit
and wrenched my heart from where it was
and burnt it here upon the hearth –
for rather than the something different

something

I would have the nothing that we shared and then made sorrow
by denying
that it mattered, that it felt,
that it was real, that it was anything …
that it was everything.

Look, I can be more than just your mistake!
I can stop hurting, just like that!
I can deny that i will always love you!

I can look forward to Hell, where
I burn now for lying,
and you commit yourself like murder,
while we stand aside and watch ourselves
drowning in the fire.

1994

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Numerology


When I reach the age of Elvis crucified,
two years and small change from now,
I shall have been 33 years a missionary:
singing love songs to the deaf;
painting pictures for the blind;
copying manuscript parts to hand out
to a toneless, voiceless choir;
dancing for a stoic crowd
of cynical philosophers.

At that time, like Rimbaud,
I shall have been a serious poet
for seventeen years.

And like young Arthur, who cast aside
his disillusion and grandiose angst,
I shall endeavor to never preach
another sermon.

The prayer book from which I read,
the liturgy crafted lovingly from my own sweat,
whose matins I have sung at dawn,
its vespers whispered to the fickle fingers
of twilight,

I shall renounce.

My voice, that grows tired of its own echo
in the empty hall;
my fingers, that have worn down the ivory keys
of life’s tempered clavichord;
my mind, that seeks to claim some vain energy
by which to transform, incandescent,
the darkness —
these tools I will abandon.

In these score and thirteen years,
with the coin of Caesar I have been paid:
the pennies of disillusion,
the nickels of apathy,
the dimes of indifference;
and within the span of the next 700 days, or so,
I shall have accumulated
the postage
to return to sender
what talents the gods have sent me,
unsolicited.

Unless, of course, I win the lottery.

Because, as Hemingway observed,
the rich are different from the rest of us:
they have money.

19 AUG 2004

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God is a Lonely Whore


I am so in love although I have never seen;
my eyes are full of things my heart denies me:
colored visions wrought in the language of amour,
the word made flesh in the weak metaphor
of wretched, babbling men
whose hollow shoulders form the bowl of tears
in which my true love’s face is drenched
(the ablution of loneliness).

The street, narrow and ill-lit, covered windows
blinderized as animals of burden,
where we first met; the oceanside cafe

(do you remember our first vows of constancy?)

where bread and wine were defined and then shared;
the desperate bed that lead our wrung hands
to cartography;

the tiny chapel in the woods we gaily toured
and in our fancy, pretended,
like small children will,
to celebrate our nuptials –

oh, how memory serves its aweful dregs
like bitter, rousing tea.

Remembrance is the greatest tool in love’s mad arsenal!

Yet even more wrenching
is the memory of the future,
the once upon a time that hasn’t happened yet;

like all loves will, I see my love
in everything around me.

Unlike the simpering, weak, whines
from other lovesick swains and paramours,
who find their ‘true love’s countenance’
in such a narrow spectrum
of their world

(bah…I laugh at their enfeebled similitudes)

there is no limit to the specters that remind me
of my other half.

‘Tis but a rose, you hopeless suitor,
it may never be the cheeks of the sweet face;
only an odor carried on the wind,
a breath of carrion or the opinion of swine,
it will pass for a scent of the alcohol and water bath
which lingers on love’s neck,
a neck supporting the fairest visage
since the “real” contests were spawned:

Olympus has been redeveloped,
Atlantis has been drained and reclaimed,
the heartless shores of Troy
have become a resort community
for lost and half-found converts
to the order of a new world.

Oh, pale would-be conquistadores,
your weak and gutless vision of your beloved is nothing.

Would you, as Lucifer once dared,
refuse to bow to any but your true love,
and suffer
the banishment,
the desolation,
the yearning to live
only to remember your lover’s sweet “Go to Hell”?

1993

Thinking of Dante, thanks to fool_in_spirit, I dug through the archives and pulled out one of my favorite older poems on the subject of Love.

There is a Persian story that posits that Lucifer loved Jehovah above all things. Lucifer lived to be in the presence of his love, and would accept no substitutes. Then, Jehovah created humankind, and asked all the angels and such beings to pledge allegiance to this new form. Lucifer, distraught, swore that he would not; his allegiance, he proclaimed, was due only and exclusively to his one true love, Jehovah. As punishment for his imprudent action, Lucifer was given the most cruel punishment that Jehovah could think of — to banish Lucifer forever from the presence of Himself, to never again hear his voice, to live only thanks to the memory of the love that was (and is) his sole sustenance.

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