Tag Archives: metaphor

Round on the ends and high in the middle

After thoroughly enjoying my new Ampeg bass amp (the magnificent BA300 115), I am reminded of something essential:

It’s NOT the lows or the highs, it’s what you do with the middle that makes all the difference.

Yeah, the highs and lows are important, but it’s the middle that defines who you really are. And that’s brought home in bass amps by the incredible phenomenon that is the “Ampeg sound.” Anybody can effectively woof or tweet. But unless you’ve got the middle right, it’s either just mud or screech.

That’s a metaphor for life, I want to tell you. Like your second and third albums, the middle of anything (life, a string, a circle, the universe) really gets to the core of your being — and it either works, or it doesn’t.

That’s why there’s such a thing as a mid-life crisis (or Chrysler, as a friend of mine used to say). Because if you get to the middle, you’ve got to either get your shit together or quit. Otherwise, you’re like a dull knife that just ain’t cuttin’ it; talking loud and saying nuthin’.

BTW, the new Ampeg is awesome – only 59 pounds and pure SVT sound. You can get Duck Dunn, Bootsy, James Jamerson, Gene Simmons, Geezer Butler or Victor Wooten all with the dial of a button or two.

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Today’s rune: the eight-legged horse
that Odin rode to battefields;
where god and rider seemed as one
great being, neither man nor beast.

My own steed? More of Boxer’s ilk,
George Orwell’s noble working brute
who would attempt to cure the world
by taking on the extra mile.

We toil as one, that horse and I,
and still, the work is not enough;
our dented armor shows its rust,
the plowshare swords are dull and bent.

The labor never seems to stop;
the world continues to decay,
and will not pause its slow decline
despite our efforts, night and day.

Yet bound by pride, my mount and I,
press on and without breaking stride
move slowly through each newfound task.
Our fate is sealed, the dice are cast.

The centaur that we have become
through this long night seems deaf and dumb;
and silent, spends the too few hours
between midnight and dawn awake.

Ehwaz? Bestill those mighty hooves;
the world is filled with noise enough.
And no storm yet is so untamed
it ends other than drizzled gray.

10 DEC 2007

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What has the Earth to Do

What has the earth to do with air?
They seem a most unlikely pair.
Just look to the horizon, where
they touch for miles, but cross nowhere.

What has the sky to do with land?
The ground will never understand;
it may find heights, but none so grand
as air seeks without thought or plan.

What has the earth to do with air?
Look to the fields and roadways where
when mixed with diligence and care
their children grow beyond compare.

What has the air to do with earth?
It gives it life and fire and mirth;
and just beyond the sight, gives birth
to flowers that cost a penny’s-worth.

20 JUN 2007

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Checkered Flag

Rodney Jones left this town while he could still buy the gas
Told the factory boys out on the state route they could kiss his ass
Didn’t know where he was going, but he was damn sure travelin’ fast
Figured out that stayin’ here, there’s no way he would last

Rodney had ambition, but not a lot of social grace
He could see the future clearly, but not the nose upon his face
Thought the only key to winning was just showin’ for the race
Never thought of consequences, never thought of second place.

All he ever wanted was a straight road and the fuel
All he ever recognized was overheat and cool
All he ever studied was the way to break the rules
Rodney Jones, he never played the fool.

Rodney hit the circuit in his homemade muscle car
Talked his way onto the track by starting in the bar
Didn’t know which road he’d taken, but he knew he’d traveled far
Figured it was gonna happen, he was gonna be a star.

Rodney lost a tire on the second straightaway
Lost control for the first time, and saw the wall give way
Says he don’t remember much, but his eyes they seem to say
“Don’t tell anyone I couldn’t handle it that day.”

All he ever wanted was a waving checkered flag
All he ever recognized was pressure and the drag
All he ever studied was the polish and the rag
Rodney Jones thought it was in the bag.

Rodney Jones came home today in a big motorcade
Everybody’s talking about him, and the splash he made
Never knew the dice were loaded, or the game it was he played
Now he’s lying ‘neath a yellow flag and marble, in the shade.

All he ever wanted was an engine and the tools
All he ever recognized was gamblers and the mules
All he ever studied was the gauges and the fuel
Rodney Jones, he never played the fool.

Summer 1998

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Addled Essence

“The problem,” he said, “with making life so easy, particularly for the young adult, is two-fold. First, a life of leisure without significant responsibility or strife is bound to result in an attitude of mere idolent malaise — which of course is far from intense enough to serve as the impetus for any angst-ridden revolution or major shift in philosophy.”

“Secondly, the parents of such youngsters, who must deal with the nebulously undefined childish and ultimately selfish agendas resulting from their offspring’s lack of needful action, are likewise never taxed, insofar as their abilities to deal with REAL paradigm shifts are concerned. As a result, they become weak and flimsy shadows of their potential selves, and are woefully unequipped to counter the nefarious attacks of those unscrupulous individuals (and their attendant organizations, religions, governments and so on) who would shape the moral fiber of their children so that future generations will not even be aware, let alone care, that the world does not belong to them, or that they have been forced to in effect pay rent on their own bodies to afford the luxury of being alive with absolutely no free will whatsoever.”

“What was once adolescence,” he continued, “I therefore think would be better off termed ‘addled essence.’ It is at this critical stage that those in power first successfully attempt to convince people that they are in fact powerless, hopeless and witless — by offering them courses in empowerment, positive thinking and entertainment.”

“They are like the young elephant, who when relatively weak and small is attached, via a lightweight chain and metal hoop around their leg, to a stake in the ground. At that young age, no matter how they try, they cannot free themselves. After a time, they give up trying. As a result, even when they are fully grown and could easily pull out the stake and/or break the chain simply by lifting their enormous foot a matter of inches, they can be controlled, and do not attempt to escape, when tethered in this fashion.”

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Art of the Midwest

I understand the Midwest: there is no substitute for work,
labor being the sacred art that transcends even grief.
What is madness, but belief that toil will not resolve conflict,
and an aversion to the sweat through which the Holy Spirit flows?

I understand the Midwest: no outward sign of strife or tears;
the stock pot never brought to boil that simmers on, each passing year.
The art of work is Midwest art; a beauty to be utilized,
from steady hands held firm despite a frailness to be disavowed.

I understand the Midwest, and the metaphor of Luther’s hands:
despite the drudgery entailed, the Lord’s work will be done.
And those whose hands are smooth, without a callous or a scar?
They tend to the demented souls who cursed, are unemployed.

I understand the Midwest: Sandburg’s rough Chicago smile,
the farmer’s tan, the sweat-stained cap, the sun-bleached overalls.
What is madness, but excuse for someone else’s hands
to lift your shovel, tote your bale, store up your share of coal?

I understand the Midwest: steam that blows the whistle there
must be imported from the coast; what’s native turns the wheel.

28 JUL 2005

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Against the entropy of time

Against the entropy of time, no wall
is strong enough to stand and remain whole.
Though guaranteed a lifetime, it will fall,
reduced to dust and rubble; and the knoll

which it divides will also wear away,
in its old age succumb to wind and rain.
What seems a solid edifice today,
tomorrow is reduced to a sand grain.

Great mountains, bold ideas — all degrade;
each second’s thimbleful deepens their graves,
and every hour reduces their acclaim.

Despite what grand advances have been made.
time serves no kings, nor pities fools or slaves,
and treats beast, man and god the very same.

09 JUN 2005

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