After the “Song of Amergin”
I have been a fly on the wall of a corporate meeting
I have been a child lost in snow that drifted roof high
I have been a broke-winged bird, flightless through winter
I have been a prisoner in some Gothic dungeon
I have been a supporter of lost, hopeless causes
I have been a wandering fool, aimless and goal-less
I have been a prodigal son for whom died the fatted calves
I have been a homeless man in cities of great wealth.
I have been a harsh word whispered in a darkened alley
I have been a silver slick carp, no good for the fry pan
I have been a glee-man singer for spare change and train fare
I have been a ragged voice crying in the wildness
I have been a drowsy student of life’s strange instructors
I have been a trust fund baby given deceptive means
I have been a reed in the wind blown aside by gale force
I have been a poet stoned with drunk and swollen words.
I have been a teacher of some useful knowledge
I have been a night janitor in the halls of justice
I have been a poor cross-maker, Pharisee and martyr
I have been a young soldier, grown old in the battle
I have been a raging fire made from drenched matches
I have been a quick perceptor without a portfolio
I have been a childhood plowman, tiller of the earth
I have been a knowing victim of victimless crime.
I have been a cold white speck in a snowfall blizzard
I have been a big, loud fish in an empty trout pond
I have been a moving current and the dry of drought
I have been a helpful force to some creative light
I have been a drifting cloud on the face of the sun
I have been a changeling spirit of the moonless night
I have been a watcher of winds that shape the noon sky
I have been a friend of the trees that breathe the earth’s air.
Who, more than I, can claim to have been loved?
Who, having also being lost, can with more conviction believe themselves found?
Who else, having for so long lived under a curse of their own making, has been more blessed?
29 MAR 2000
Thinking for some reason of this song I wrote and recorded probably 15 years ago, during my “Elvis Costello” period…
I used to dream with my eyes wide open
I would sing songs for the deaf and paint pictures for the blind.
I spent my life destroying
every good thing I could find.
I fell in love with a bad idea;
I could look in the mirror and tell myself lies.
It was easy to believe
that there was nothing left inside.
Spent my life looking for the Devil’s daughter
and now all I’ve got left is some wine that used to be water
I used to think through my mental blinders
that the worst thing you could do is learn someone’s last name.
I could never be tied down;
just kept shooting the horses when their legs went lame.
I used to think it would all be ending:
we could dance down to the river and sing songs with the king;
but now looks like the castle’s empty
and it ain’t guarding anything.
Spent my life searching for the Devil’s daughter
and now all I’ve got left is some wine that I wish was water.
Yes it’s true. Pride can bring you down;
just look at anyone after they fall.
You may have seen a miracle, but when the deed is done
the water’s gone, the wine is gone;
there’s no much left at all.
I’ve spent my life living with the Devil’s daughter
and now I’m waiting for someone to come
and change this wine back to water.
Imagine a person made completely out of salt.
If that person chooses to be immersed in the ocean, their very being is absorbed by the sea. Once their head is beneath the waves, no distinction can be made between their now dissolved form and the depths into which they have sojourned. Not even the ocean can separate itself again, saying “this minute portion of me is of that small salt doll, and the remainder is not”.
Such is the case, too, when a person approaches and begins to comprehend the infinite energy of the universe. Once an individual recognizes the eternal within themselves, the external sack of temporal cloth in which that eternal has been stored melts away, and only the infinite remains.
In either case, who is left to report, to return some answer to the question they originally set out seeking? And in what language could that answer be expressed, that those on the shore, whose toes scarcely dare to dip into the surf’s foam, would be able to understand?
Even the cleverest of parables fails. And to speak with the voice of the ocean itself is to be misunderstood as a overwhelming roar.
I’ve spent a life in parables,
disguising my ideas
in costumes and strange metaphors
and so perhaps convinced the world
that I’m a harmless quack,
imagining just chimeras
with no spine in their backs.
But recently, while looking through
and sorting sundry stuff,
I’ve started thinking parables
are just not clear enough.
So I’ve decided to speak plainly,
well, at least plain as I can,
and for a while, pretend that I’m
a new idea man.
Besides, it seems at present
the world needs of bit of this;
so I beg your indulgence,
and hope you won’t find amiss
the fact that I’ll be writing things
to stretch your world, and mine —
and perhaps we together
can build a new paradigm.
24 JAN 2005
There was an idea
that grew in a brain —
not a clean break, but rather
a troubling sprain.
It swelled up and shut off
the centers of speech,
thus remaining hidden;
and just beyond reach
it festered, fermented
and spread like a rash
along the poor cortex
which gave up, and crashed.
But that was so long ago —
now the brain’s learned
to shun stray ideas
lest its pathways burn
with even the memory
of strange and queer thought;
to be safe, it forgets
most that it’s been taught
and so pretty thoughtless
it plods through the day —
imagining it has
always been this way.
Now dearly beloved,
believe this is true;
lest you want ideas
to happen to you.
08 DEC 2004