Tag Archives: disillusion


There is no need to stop the clocks,
nor try to dim the constant noise;
let those who listen, soldier on,
despite the sonic din’s abuse.

There are no hidden codes to find,
nor secret doors along the wall;
let those who look, persist in vain
while their illusions peel and rust.

There is no gathering of tribes,
nor universal dream to come;
let those who would awake, sleep on.
The morning will come soon enough.

There is no right, there is no wrong,
nor side that always ends face up;
let those who would place bets dream on,
beyond the realm of win or lose.

There is no stirring battle cry,
nor mourning wail to soothe the dead;
let those who sing learn different tunes
in some more pleasing universe.

04 AUG 2014

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The End is Near: a chant royal

The end is near, and what is worse,
it looks so very much the same
as the beginning. How perverse!
We’d best start handing out the blame
before the opportunity
is past, and we are forced to flee
elected our own scapegoats. How
I wish we’d planned much better, now.
We’re stuck with everything, it seems,
and all those swords we forged from plows
have severed us from our own dreams.

The end is coming, like a curse
or the last seconds of a game
we played half-assed; seeming to nurse
an old war wound, we acted lame,
and in the name of being free
insisted all should “be like me”
and praised the sweat on every brow
that bowed down to our sacred cows.
We’ve ruined everything; the cream
has curdled and is worthless now.
We’ve lost access to our own dreams.

The end is on us, and the purse
we thought to win, the wealth and fame,
has dissipated; while we nurse
our young so long they grow up tame,
and “being all that they can be”
decide on “nothing” as the key
to great success in life, somehow.
We’ve earned it all; but what it means?
No clues, until our final bow:
that fond farewell to all our dreams.

It is the end; no furrowed brow
lost deep in thought will help us now.
The fabric’s worn, split at the seams;
as does the tree, so goes the bough.
we’ve nothing left of all our dreams.

27 APR 2011

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Better Your Dream Dies Young

Better that your dream dies young,
its promise as yet unfulfilled,
a youthful willow Juliet
to your enamored Romeo,
than that it live until old age,
when riddled through with cancer scars,
its cracked voice jaded with regret,
it makes your life a nursing home
where you both wait
to meet the grave.

Better that your dream dies young;
so you can shake your head and laugh
when those who posture, pose and preen
still with the vanity of hope
(which is religion for the young)
expound upon their charted course,
imagining the world will care.

Better that your dream dies young,
instead of sadly lingering on,
its beauty faded, spine curled in,
and what was once a lucid wit
reduced to shriveled memory.
Let it go in your youth,
while you still have enough time
to mourn, and move on.

27 NOV 2007

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This Place

Everything about this place just tends to bring me down;
I look into the mirror and see one more hopeless clown.
The people on the street have a sad tendency to frown
and no one wants to be the only soul left hanging ’round
this little bit of nowhere that some joker named a town,
who’s happier to be long gone and six feet under ground.

Everything about this place was meant to be just so:
straight white picket fences and fake shutters in a row,
with people shut up inside watching television shows.
Nobody wants to be outside and watch the flowers grow
along the winding street that follows where the river flows
but still seems to get nowhere, and why, no one really knows.

Everything about this place is waiting to expire;
folks waiting for apocalypse or when they can retire.
The people on the street seem unimpressed and uninspired;
nobody wants to tell the truth or cross beyond the wire.
It doesn’t seem to matter much who’s honest or a liar —
either way you’re wasting air trying to light a fire.

Everything about this place is tied up in the past,
secured in little boxes tied with string and stitched up fast,
going through the motions like bad actors in the cast
of a show still in re-runs, like a flag flown at half mast
in praise of some great compromise that ends the war at last
with an uneasy silence interrupting the broadcast.

Everything about this place falls down around my ears
in echoes of an irony that will not disappear:
sad people on the street seem to accept heartache and fear;
nobody wants to be the only one left when it clears
and leaves each of us naked with our ledgers in arrears
as the sad charade is ending and the day of judgment nears.

Everything about this place just makes me more depressed.
I look into the mirror and admit I’m not impressed:
can’t stand my sad expression and can’t stand the way I’m dressed,
but thinking about changing only gives me added stress;
and anyway, it really doesn’t matter, I confess,
’cause everywhere is nowhere in it’s own way, more or less.

06 NOV 2007

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Welcome to the Undertown

Undertown (n): Like the bottom part of the wave that actually moves all the water (and can do all the damage), that beneath the surface pulls you in and gives you an appreciation of the ocean, the undertown is that part of any place that provides a glimpse into its true meaning — beyond the lip service, hypocrisy, glib acceptance speeches and polished recordings. The undertown is where you find the literal and figurative prisons of a place, its dark secrets and hidden longings. You find what a place truly wants to be, and people willing to stand up and do what is necessary to make it happen.

In a musical context, the Undertown is what doesn’t get played on the radio. Music that doesn’t have a face on MTV, VH1 or CMT. It’s music with a connection to personal roots, an absolute absence of disposable music – reverence and relevance where it is due, and iconoclasm where it is required. Bluegrass, folk, Appalachia, Western swing, hillbilly, hick, redneck, rural, Bakersfield, Austin, midwestern, plains, poor, downtrodden, spiritual music. The music that represents the America you don’t see except out your front window, if you bother to look. The America that doesn’t require (or for that matter, appreciate) reality programming.

The Undertown is then, more or less, a battleground. A place where a war is constantly raging; not of flesh and blood, though that too may be consumed in the struggle. No, it is a battleground of the spirit. What is the struggle? In the words of e.e. cummings, “to be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”

For many years, I have been a citizen of Undertown. That experience has resulted in a number of different poems and songs, like this:

Late at night it slows a little:
that slow burn right down the middle,
turning progress upside down
and into the sad streets of undertown;

Where nothing’s likely brewing,
and the only thing worth doing
is to swim or else you’ll drown
beneath the current in the undertown;

You think I’m joking? Look around.
Welcome again to undertown.

There is no use in speaking
out against the darkness leaking
into everything that’s found
its way here to the heart of undertown,

and no sure way of knowing,
not much of a good thing going
when they shut the sidewalks down
and turn the lights out here in undertown;

It’s hard to find your way around
Here after dark in undertown.

Outside there’s the sound of thunder;
how long will it last, I wonder?
’til the lost have become found
and take the road that leads from undertown

where there’s no light left burning
to prove that the world’s still turning
any way but straight and down
to bury itself here in undertown.

It may sound funny, but I’ve found
just one way out of undertown.

07 FEB 2007

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Why Things Burn

A moment of brilliance,
shot through the heart and left for dead
on the side of the road;
An instant of insight,
unclouded by the circumstance of reason
as the teardrop explodes;
A spark from a fire
too long extinguished, with no memory
or meaning of flame.
A blink of an eyelid;
unconscious movement without conscience
or the concept of pain.

What is the reason why things burn?

A moment of madness,
illumination that burns through the curtain of dawn;
A second of shadow,
fogging the mirror before it is faded and gone;
An inkling of brilliance,
one shining hour that dies as the minutes decay;
A spark of electric
current that waxes and wanes as it travels away.

What is the reason why things burn?

30 JUL 2007

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Rock the Casbah

In one sense, as the Casbah rocks,
it merely sways on concrete blocks
that buried deep beneath the sand
give history its strength to stand;

and its foundations, built of steel
and solid rock, can barely feel
the tremors from such surface noise
cranked out by grown men and young boys

who think to change the world, but fail,
forgetting it takes years for shale
to yield to pressure, making oil
there miles beneath the fertile soil.

In one sense, as the Casbah crowd
believes the hype thats blast so loud
across the endless sea of sand,
it neither will evolve or stand

for anything beyond its press,
just fade to nothing, more or less,
converting substance into style,
then neatly sorted to some file:

the “where are they”, “what happened to”,
brought out of mothballs for their due
at some parade where they are mocked
by those who never knew they rocked.

10 APR 2007

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