Tag Archives: freedom

Freedom of Speech

Americans talk loud and often
of their right to speak:
a pillar of democracy
that gives voice to the weak
as well as strong, in equal shares,
so each may truly taste
of freedom’s sweet, delicious fruit
and none will go to waste.

And yet, a legal right to speak
is often not enough;
reality suggests in action
such talk can be tough.
The truth is, outside one’s own home,
and often even there,
we never say just what we want –
we could, but do not dare

to say the speech that we would speak,
if we felt confident
that we could trust those listening
to grasp at what we meant
with honest ears and open hearts
that tried to understand
despite their wish to disagree
or cut us where we stand.

Alas, we all too often hide
behind our words, instead;
encouraging “just bite your tongue
and never lose your head,
take heed of what your friends will think;
the walls have ears, beware!
They’ll use your words against you
if you loose them in the air.”

But truth is not in comfort zones;
it lies somewhere outside
the social structure we impose
to justify our pride
that we are somehow civilized
and will not cause a scene,
regardless of the pain it costs
to forget what it means

when you are truly free to speak,
your voice heard loud and clear,
to cut through the hypocrisy
without regret or fear,
and truly share as equals
in a strength that won’t decay
until we open up our mouths
and find nothing to say.

15 APR 2013

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Stale Yellow

This morning my country’s on orange alert;
or maybe stale yellow, if you feel perverse:
the color of bullies, who’re cowards, in fact,
who put down in others convictions they lack.

The war is on terror, they’ll loudly proclaim;
but killing is killing, no matter the name.
Nobody learns nothing by point of a gun,
‘cept when to stay hidden, and which way to run.

Freedom’s a journey, not some point in time
when your way of living is the same as mine.
Truth is an ocean and peace is a verb;
How we each get there shows what we deserve.

This morning my country’s enmeshed in a war
financed by the rich, fought by the young and poor
who trust in their leaders and will pay the cost
regardless of who we say has won or lost.

The war is for freedom, those leaders will say;
the world is our oyster, let’s keep it that way.
But force just accelerates, it won’t evolve;
making more problems than it ever solves.

Freedom’s a journey, not some future point
when who we like has the run of the joint.
Truth is an ocean and peace is a verb;
How we each get there proves what we deserve.

This morning my country’s on orange alert;
or maybe stale yellow, which may be much worse.

22 FEB 2007

Stale Yellow (demo)

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Wide Open Road

For some reason, I’m in a shit-kicking mood today. All my ducks are in a row, and I’m feeling my oats. Could be because it’s a beautiful warm spring day with a slight breeze and plenty of sunshine. Could be because it’s Friday. Could be just because.

Anyway, here’s a song I wrote about being your own man, finding your own road, and not listening to any crap along the way. What’s that Jeff Bates says? If you don’t feel like turning it up, it’s not a real country song.

WIDE OPEN ROAD any direction I choose
Shakin’ off this town like an old pair of shoes
Like my old man told me, you’ve got to use it or lose
And if the man don’t call you brother,
don’t give him your membership dues

WIDE OPEN ROAD and no kind of a plan
Shakin’ off these blues like I don’t give a damn
Just like my wife done told me, you’ve got to get it in gear
And if you’ve got no direction,
better bring it on back here

Two lanes is all I need, the right to cruise or to pass
Don’t need no big city news, don’t bother shakin’ your ass
You can tell my friends I’m trying to lighten my load
They can find me out there somewhere on the WIDE OPEN ROAD.

WIDE OPEN ROAD with nothing blocking my sight
Shakin’ out of my skin, just like I told you I might
Just like some folks try to tell you, they say you’ve got to keep your place
Well, if you feel like you’re under the wheel,
there ain’t no smile on your face

WIDE OPEN ROAD and nothing out there for miles
Shakin’ off my past like I was shredding my file
Just like the old man told me, sometimes you’ve got to move on
And you can give better answers
if they show up and you’re long gone.

Two lanes is all I need, the right to stop if I choose
Don’t try to slow me down with your big city news
You can tell my friends I’m trying to lighten my load
They can find me out there somewhere on the WIDE OPEN ROAD.

Spring 1998

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Yesterday’s Angels

Baby’s got a hole in her shoe
Tells me she’s not sure what to do
All her watercolors have turned to blue
Said she wanted a choice, but now there’s nothing left to choose
Tells me that her well’s about to run dry
Got no more tears left her to cry

Baby’s got a lot on her mind
Tells me she’s not sure just what she’ll find
All her fortune tellers have been found blind
Says I know wanted change, but wasn’t sure what kind
Tells me she just wants to be free
Then picks up the chains that bind her, and throws me the key

I don’t need no angels to show me the light
Yesterday’s angel is still burning bright
Don’t try to save me, and I think I’ll be all right
Just leave your wings outside my door tonight

Baby’s got a lock on her soul
Tells me she don’t want to lose control
All her convicted lovers have been paroled
Said she gave herself to the night, didn’t know it’d be so cold
Tells me her bridges are burned to the ground
Got no more heartache to pass around

Baby’s got a hole in her heart
Tells me she just wants to make a new start
All her horses left her with a broken cart
Said she wanted to know it all, now it hurts to be so smart
Tells me she just wants to let go
Then picks up the chains that bind her, throws the key to the floor

I don’t need no angels to show me the light
Yesterday’s angel is still burning bright
Don’t try to save me, and I think I’ll be all right
Just leave your wings outside my door tonight…

And so I did.


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From The Trial of Nesorna


If far too often fate seems to be fixed
and all for nought, pray you remember this:
of our own choosing are these states of life,
both law and ruler from among us rise.

‘Tis in our hands, that much of being free
oft comes to nil, and so our apathy
determines how our democratic state
enslaves us with its silent, civil chains.

So, those who would be wise kings, please take note:
the clever word defeats the sharpest sword;
for those who rule the soul confine the mind,
and conquer silently the heart and hand.

Democracy holds promise great, if freed,
where liberty and justice count for all;
and though expressive right may tax the taste,
the alternate means none may choose their fate:

To choose the gods that suit one’s path and place,
may in the so-called pious cause alarm,
but free will gives this choice to each alone;
to interfere is to deny a right.

So tenuous is our hold on the truth,
that some may seek to have their will imposed,
and quench the fire in those who disagree,
while wand’ring lost themselves in faithless doubts.

Let not this trembling thought of fate unknown
breed trust in leaders boasting “sacred right”,
or you may silence longing in the heart
for principle, and thus destroy the state.

So stories go, and mine presents a time,
not past, not present, but of both constructs;
A fictioned tale, perhaps, but warning, too,
that our existence faces likewise tests.

For words divine, when jumbled, may distort,
and so confuse the heart and harm the mind;
converting honest fears and hopeful dreams
to damning, pure and simple ignorance.

Maybe a lesson is here to be taught –
that facts can quickly be repressed and scorned,
and that which passes for blessed and devout
may be manipulated and ill-used.

Without a warning, liberties we love
that thrive on the most tenuous of threads
may be no longer granted us from birth,
but lost to mem’ry in chasms of time.

A time when reason, logic and defense,
along with independence and free will,
may lose their place in definition books,
and be unknown to us who live in chains.

from The Trial of Nesorna, Act I, Prologue: Chorus Monologue

1990, 2004

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Let Words Escape

Rescind your tortured sentences; let words
escape like AWOL soldiers past the fence,
like sullen rocks that would grow wings like birds
and fly out into fresh experience.

Rethink your injured poems; let each line
cascade in a cacophony of sound
where all the images you dare define
in simple rhythm’s ancient tongues resound.

Don’t cast your works in broken, fragile stone;
they will not last beyond the dusting brush.
Instead, seek for the essence that alone
reduces recent shouts and cheers in hush.

The modern lasts no more than single days;
its history a palimpsest of mist.
If you would build a temple worth more praise,
you must do more than exercise the wrists.

What vision can withstand the critic’s bile
unless the artist draws it from within?
What good to end up in some dusty file
where fickle fancy’s fads end and begin?

Let no one else restrict the words you choose,
nor help you seek the spirit of the age;
If you would seek to please others, refuse
to put another letter on the page.

24 APR 2005

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That Subtlety Escapes Me

Philosophically, I’ve walked
the wrong side of the tracks for quite some time;
and in a chasm that’s grown bigger
I have passed ridiculous into sublime.
But the fundamental differences between us
haven’t really crossed my mind:
you on one side claiming genius,
leaving me a portion of insanity.
There may be a difference, but I have to say
sometimes that subtlety escapes me.

Realistically, if given even odds,
I’m not too sure there’d be a split decision.
Yet it seems that one of us gets all the praise,
the other laughter and derision
because our goals diverged at some point
that I can’t pinpoint with much precision:
you on one side in majority,
with me standing where your shadow ought to be.
There may be a balance to be struck,
but I must say that subtlety escapes me.

Confidentially, I’ve watched the way you operate;
and it seems underhanded:
how you stumble into things and have the gall to say
that’s just the way you planned it,
and yet when I discover happiness in small amounts,
you want me reprimanded.
Just because you are imprisoned,
it infuriates you that I might be free.
There are some chains much more obvious,
but honestly, that subtlety escapes me

01 MAR 2005

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