Tag Archives: longing

For Starlight: cancione

I cannot claim to know her;
at best, I’ve mapped the surface:
those little nooks and crannies
that she feels like revealing.
More knowledge would not help me;
to understand more deeply,
would take a lifetime’s effort
and skills beyond my grasping.

But what she deigns to show me,
that small part I can handle,
in just over a decade
has become sun- and moon-rise:
my alpha and omega.
There is no life without her,
no breath, no flowing current;
she is my one and only.

They say that men are simple;
we eat and sleep and venture
so few steps from our comfort,
content in our small fiefdoms,
but crave the complication
of woman’s advanced nature
to give our lives their meaning,
some sense of awe and beauty.

I can’t refute that logic;
and for myself, I wonder
where I would go for solace
if she were not here with me.
I know I cannot claim her;
more truthfully, she owns me:
and I live in her service,
my payment is her love.

24 NOV 2010

Ten Seconds Too Long

Standing in the echo of the last show’s fading note,
wondering through the night about the last song that I wrote:
the one that drew a line and put me on the other side;
was that what we both wanted, or was it just foolish pride?

I wouldn’t be so worried if there was some way to know
how long that it might take before I stop loving you so;
see, I can handle heartache and a lot of misery,
but it would make it so much easier thinking it will only be …

Seven days and fourteen hours and twenty seconds more
until you come back to your senses and are standing at that door
with a handful of good reasons, each one worth the staying for.
I may not know too much, but I know now that you’ve been gone
seven days and fourteen hours and ten seconds too long.

Listening to the raindrops fall against the windowpane,
running through the last things that we said, time and again;
every word seems like an echo slowly fading with the night
that takes with it the good we had as it slips out of sight.

I wouldn’t care so much if I was more sure that we had
enough of the good times to outweigh what we know was bad;
but we got out of balance somewhere there toward the end.
I know it’s for the better, but I also know it’s been

Seven days and fourteen hours and twenty seconds more
since you came to your senses and walked straight out that front door
with a handful of good reasons, each one worth your leaving for.
I may not know too much, but I know now that you’ve been gone
seven days and fourteen hours and ten seconds too long.

In the arsenal of love, the deadliest of tools
is memory, that brings down both the wise man and the fool,
and over time, serves to remind us where we went astray
by keeping in our minds the worst mistakes we ever made

and now it’s …

Seven days and fourteen hours and twenty seconds more
until you come back to your senses and are standing at that door
with a handful of good reasons, each one worth the staying for.
I may not know too much, but I know now that you’ve been gone
seven days and fourteen hours and ten seconds too long.

1 APR 2006

You Can Come Home

One winter’s night a number of years ago in Boston, I was huddled in my small studio apartment on Boylston Street near Berklee College of Music. It was a cold December evening, and as I recall I was broke and in fact sitting in the dark because the electric bill had not been paid. I did have a battery operated radio, however, and a squeaky and somewhat effective radiator in the corner, as well as a number of cigarette butts with a few drags on them. In other words, not rock bottom, but pretty near the shoals.

I was listening to some late-night Grateful Dead program (I think syndicated, but who knows now), and they were playing “deep” cuts. In the midst of my depressingly cold scene came a hauntingly beautiful song — probably one of the most beautiful songs, in terms of sheer lyricism and fragility, that I had ever heard. It was I Will Take You Home, words by John Perry Barlow and music by Brent Mydland.

I have heard this song only once; that evening, and never again. But as soon as it finished on the radio, I picked up my guitar and wrote the following song.

When all the sad Romeos you call companions
have found their way back to the night;
and all your engagements for debutante stages
aren’t coming as fast as they might;
when the crowd you enamored decides you’re a scam
and finds some other queen for your throne,
and you’re trying not to weep, trying to sleep, trying so hard
to forget that you’re sleeping alone,

when your circle of friends fades to lines on the mirror
that tell you the years have gone by,
and your social connections just send their condolences
(sorry, they just can’t stop by);
when the world outside your side of which you’re so petrified
just might be nothing at all,
I’ll be around when there’s nobody else you can call.

When you’ve played Cleopatra and Anthony’s gone,
and your lovers have found other roles;
when the rest of the blessed have begun to confess
they’ve no need for your broken down soul;
when your audience turns from compassion to apathy,
leaving the theater bare,
and you’re trying not to weep, trying to sleep, trying so hard
to forget that there’s nobody there;

when you’re shunned like a leper by all the pretenders
you thought were your very best friends;
and the children you’ve raised turn their backs on you,
leaving you to wander alone ’til your end;
when you’re old and turned gray, and they take you away
’cause you can’t seem to find your way home,
I’ll be around when you don’t want to be all alone.

When all your imagined battalions of Galahads
fade back into the mist,
and you find your influence has faded to nothing
and you’re not so hard to resist;
when those princes on horseback find some other maidens
to seek out and rescue from pain,
and you’re trying not to weep, trying to sleep, trying so hard
to pretend that it’s all still the same;

when the dreams you were promised turn out to be nightmares,
and all of your hopes turn to tears;
when your vanity fades and you pull down the shades
and think back on the faraway years;
when you’re lost in the night, and even the cold moonlight
has left you, and you’re all alone —
I’ll be around when you need me to take you back home.

You can come on home.

1993

So Long (This Time So Long)

I’ll leave the light on outside
so you can find your way when you come home tonight
I don’t know where you’ve been,
but I ain’t asking, I know I don’t have the right

Besides, it’s just another passing evening
You’re passing by those bright lights
searching for one to believe in
If you don’t find it here
I guess you finally will be leaving
Like you wanted to so many times before
Guess I’ll lie awake until I know for sure.

If you get home before morning
lock the door and turn the light out in the hall
Use the phone out in the kitchen
if there’s someone out there that you need to call

It’s not like this don’t happen every evening
We’re past the point of all of that,
ain’t no one been deceived here
If you don’t come home soon,
I guess you’ll call and say you’re leaving
Like I thought you would a thousand times ago
Guess I’ll lie awake until I finally know.

This time of night
gets longer every minute
When I look across the bed
and I can see you’re still not in it
I hope that nothing’s wrong …
it’s just it’s been so long, this time
so long this time
guess it’s so long, this time
so long

I’ll leave some supper on the stove
so you’ll have something waiting later on
And the sheets out on the couch
so you’ll not have to wake up to the sound of my alarm

It’s just another early morning evening
You’re tired of telling lies that I’ve grown tired of believing
The only question now is if you’ll come in while I’m leaving
Or if you’re out somewhere deciding that you’ll stay
Guess I’ll lie awake and wonder either way.

This time of night
gets longer every minute
I keep praying that the doorframe soon
will have your shadow in it
I know my faith is strong …
but it’s just been so long, this time
so long this time
guess it’s so long, this time
so long

1991

That Reminds Me

It doesn’t take much to remind me:
a trace of perfume in the air
lipstick stains on a cigarette butt burning there
as much as I tell myself that I don’t care
no use lingering on
these things now that she’s gone.

But sometimes late at night
when the traffic is light
and the hum of the AC goes off
with a cough,
I can hear her soft breathing
beside me, believing
forever’s down payment
will carry us through;
what’s the use?

in this lifetime we hadn’t much chance
to grow old together,
in deeper romance.

And the seeds that we buried
will all turn to plants
in another man’s garden,
another man’s dance will be
with her tomorrow;
the joy and the sorrow
we shared and were spared
linger on in the air,
and despite my pretending
that I just don’t care
one trace of her perfume, the scent of her hair
or the sight of a cigarette just burning there
still reminds me.

27 NOV 2005

Blame It On Your Memory

I know it’s late and you told me you don’t want me coming ’round
But I was in the neighborhood and on my way downtown
Thought you’d like to know I saw your memory yesterday
He told me to look you up before he’d go away

I know that we both agreed we’d be better off as friends
But memory got the best of me and brought me ’round again
You don’t have to say you love me and I’ll try not to care
We’ll just look up our old heartache and see who’s living there

Ain’t no use pretending that all the feeling’s gone
But we can’t stop the burning of this bridge we’re standing on
Just tell me you don’t wonder sometimes when you’re all alone
And I’ll tell your old memory to take my heart back home.

I know it’s late
but I was thinking that you might want to see me
We could walk right up the street and drink to memory
Thought you might like someone who knew how to have a time
If memory serves me well, I know your favorite brand of wine

It’s thin ice that we’re walking on, but it will turn out right
Besides, your memory wouldn’t let me stay away tonight
You don’t have to call me darling, and I’ll try not to stare
We’ll just look up that old heartache, and see who’s living there

Ain’t no use pretending that all the feeling’s gone
But we can’t stop the burning of this bridge we’re standing on
Just tell me you don’t wonder sometimes when you’re all alone
And I’ll tell your old memory to take my heart back home.

1997

Ginger Freed from Wall Singing

Won’t you me the dance
out of reaching your space
into nothing close where longing
breeds its sorrow armor

(amour)?

Drum talks your babel tonguing
instinct-burnt incessancy;
naturalized immortalifications
reduced to venial chancery
in the cold light of reminder.

My number forgets itself
when not recalled;
soon, its once my tender memory
archived upon three days hence.

My legs are not broken,
won’t you me the dance?

When music’s beatless ardor
swells into itself, then poetic
gran plies split themselves

and we have only the panic
of this moment.

1994

Another one from the Memphis years.