With fifty ways to bust your ass,
Fifty ways and maybe more,
The foreman who you have to pass,
Stands to meet you at the door.
"Here's a job, when it's been done,
Find me for another one."
Set to work in seconds flat
He tells you "more" is where it's at.
He doubles as time-study man,
Working overtime to plan
Another way to make us work
Faster still. He's cutting cost;
Taking back the token perk
Regaining profits somehow lost.
We're on the job he's set us to--
He checks to see we follow through,
Cruising like a nosey shark,
Smelling slack and weaker fish.
JAWS, until you hear him bark
Out his boss's latest wish.
He'll power by, cup in his hand--
Cup of coffee, understand,
He uses for a little speed
To get around to watch us bleed.
He cuts a minute from our break:
Sixty seconds more to ache.
He adds a minute to our day:
Sixty seconds less to play.
He keeps his distance, keeps it cold,
Ashamed because he's bought and sold--
He gave it up to take the fall
For the boss who owns it all.
A bit like lying
To soothe the spouse
And cover up a cheating game;
Akin to trying
To fix a house
By shrubbing up a crying shame.
We know it, known it all along,
We're caught up in the past;
Revisions cover up the wrong
So that the wrong can last.
Tear the motherfucker down,
Start it over from the ground
Work a line for someone older,
Catch the younger with a bolder
Jingle, jangle sound to move to,
Acting out the love and war
Each of us one day go through--
But not the cold dance of the whore
Or satanic dance of death.
Dance to changes, dance for love,
The kind of dance to take your breath
Away with clear-eyed visions of
A love to give
And fight to live,
Free from interference by
Starred and spangled
Lyrics with no reasons why.
Safety Acts: they help somewhat--
Help from lazy bureaucrats
Who see a danger that's clearcut--
They hang around like swarming gnats
With about the same effect--
Another bother for neglect.
The foreman said the sweetest thing--
Ah, yes, the memory lingers
In my mind his words still ring:
"On that saw you watch your fingers
Or you'll lose them all so fast
You won't know where you seen 'em last."
Hypocrite. He's talking shit.
Before this steel's been deburred,
I'd like to see if I could fit
It up so far his vision's blurred.
This diamond saw's so obsolete
Its specialty is cutting meat.
Party lines, drawn from reports
That had been hearsay evidence,
Become a noose. The line distorts
The truth and has the consequence
Of raising parties high enough
To hang them letting their feet scuff
The dusty ground. The party twists
On tiptoes in the lazy breeze:
Lines from hearsay analysts
Dangle from streetlamps and trees--
There to hang the party high
Enough to please the FBI.
He cut adrift on seas of wine,
Deserting ships importing. Fine.
But on the wine he sailed a sea
Running free, the course he'd choose
We're usually inlets to the booze.
Doesn't mean he'd never suffer,
Or that sober had it tougher,
But wine would soften up some change,
And change to him was passing strange.
There were times he'd cruise on by,
Me--a landing--so he'd tie
Up to get his bearings straight.
But he wouldn't hesitate
Casting off--away he'd sail
Into another barroom gale.
You ever tried to tell a friend
It wasn't highs they had to end
Or a sailor's visions of
Safe passage and a waiting love?
Now the waves are getting higher--
He's heading for his last resort.
I don't think I'd be a liar
To say, someday, it won't be port
But ballast so's to reinforce
Courage for a braver course
As mean as storms up from the south,
But dry as Sunday morning's mouth.
Add this to their list of crimes
But blame it all upon the times:
They'll never follow when they're scared
That they'll be left to die alone;
They're afraid that they'll be paired
Up to a Howdy Doody clone;
Little trust when things get hot;
Can't expect they'll follow through.
Trusting only when they've got
The upper hand on me and you.
Friends have proved they're not, before--
Best of friends pulled guns and knives;
Deserted them in times of war;
Friends have made it with their wives.
Except for highs we've all enjoyed,
You can't get close to them because
Relationships get paranoid
When standing outside bourgeois laws
"If you lose, babe, what'll you do?"
"If the union gives up hope?"
"Or if, back in, they fire you."
"Who knows, honey? Deal dope?"
"I thought as much." Belly laughter
Over jokes that you make after
Fighting racists half your life--
Chicano and an Anglo wife.
Wages, salary, piecework-pay,
Compensation for the day--
Job pays well when work is clean,
Less when work is hard and mean
You sell your time like they sell things
For what they cost to make.
Like things, the price your labor brings
Will match what it will take
To get enough to meet your need:
To stay alive, alert and breed
They tell you, you can work on up
Until you reach the top;
You hand your boss his coffee cup--
And brown-nose till you drop.
Compete and look for easy gigs--
And you become one of the pigs.
Wages separate us from
Each other--then we fight
Over every precious crumb
That falls within our sight.
To get us by to work tomorrow,
Sometimes steal, beg and borrow
Fair day's wage for fair day's work?
That's a loser's call.
Throw out wages, salary, perk,
And let the profits fall.
Fall-out from the revolution
Precipitates a clear solution.
This country's in an awful fix
And it makes little sense
To suffer through the politics
That work at our expense;
Hard to tell what's going on
And things don't look too bright.
Tell me what I'm doing wrong,
Trying to get things right.
Government takes care of business--
Business acting lame;
On the streets are walking homeless
People, who's to blame?
All we're getting is a song
And dance about the country's plight;
Tell me what I'm doing wrong,
Trying to get things right
They say that no one wants a war,
They say we all want peace;
So tell me why they're making more
Arms that just increase
Chances that before too long
There's going to be a fight;
Tell me what I'm doing wrong,
Trying to get things right.
Watch them build another nuke--
While someone's getting maced.
Every now and then a fluke
Will lay us all to waste;
Fossil fuels are going strong,
Lighting up another night.
Tell me what I'm doing wrong,
Trying to get things right.
You'd think that we'd deserve a break--
They get us every time.
The more we work the more they take--
They hassle every dime.
I've been getting by this long
And I'll be getting by tonight;
But tell me what I'm doing wrong,
Trying to get things right.
Children want and children need
To know what kind of systems go.
Backward notions come mislead
Them it's O.K. they're eating crow.
Schools teach them to behave--
Early training for the slave.
They're up and running--business takes
Them out to visit easy streets;
Just a peek, the tour makes
Sure they stay put in their seats.
Easy Street: end of the line--
Corporate bus arrives on time.
Transfer comes with paid-up fair
That takes them back, where they made do;
Transfer to the wheel chair--
Graveyards line the avenue;
Helpless waiting for the dying,
Quiet but for gentle sighing
It's profit when you bust your butt
And from the brains you rack;
Profit's that which comes from what
You make but don't get back:
Never see it till it's spent
By the rich or government.
With no profit, who would bother
Ads are what they use to father
And shouldn'ts, do's and don'ts--
Habits breaking wills and won'ts.
With no profit, who'd sell porno,
Drugs and vices too?
No more victims who'll wear no
Clothes, posed set to screw--
Can't fulfill a natural need
By substituting for the deed.
With no profits motivating
Ways for making money,
Who would bother propagating
Hefner's Playboy bunny?
You can bet Heff's pushing ass
For the playboy ruling class
Bye-bye fashion, flashy style,
And prostitution too;
A bright, delinquent juvenile--
Who's been supporting you?
Piss-poor way to make a living
On explosive thrills you're giving.
Profit gone? So no more cheap
Goods that fall apart.
No more food that makes us keep
Agreeing that our heart
Is going to stop because we ate
Something it won't tolerate
Without profit, who'd pollute?
Who'd be such an asshole?
Businessmen in hot pursuit--
To the point they gas whole
Populations just to get
The juice allowing them to jet.
Business under stars and stripes
Is letting war decide
Who pokes where with oily pipes:
To take and re-divide
The planet's wealth they claim to own--
No boundaries to their battle zone
With no profit, why make guns?
Who would be the enemy?
Profit-takers are the ones
Deserving of our enmity.
They're the ones who push for war
Whenever they can't sell us more.
How bad's profit? Makes you sick--
Spoiled beyond use;
A habit you can't send to Schick,
Won't come off the juice:
Bottle full, it's war again--
Abolish profit: peace. Amen.
Businessmen can't help but see
This presidential reign
Like those who once saw Germany
Before they found their main
Man to save the corporate world--
As the swastika unfurled.
Business goes it with another
When the system fails;
Coming up, a back-up mother
Fucker filling jails.
But Bush is weak, he really is,
The guy is Mister Nice.
But nice can't take good care of biz--
They need the lies and vice
And kicking ass for what it wants--
Especially when the commie haunts.
They need to break up left-wing groups;
Infiltrate and call out troops
To break us up for real--
Hiring all the creeps and thugs
Who share fanatic zeal;
Set us up with guns and drugs,
Anything, and then some too.
Same old same old, nothing new.
Any day one's bound to take
You unawares, knock out your lights--
Mayabe something that'll break
You up or down with little bites;
Drives you crazy, brings you to
Accept another point of view.
Glue your eyeballs to the page:
Buy it--chip in on my wage.
The party serves to liberate--
First one at a time,
Working to eliminate
The hassle over every dime
That you brought home from work today--
Now you work another way.
The party serves to liberate--
First the people who
Always work to propagate
Another point of view
For the worker's of the world--
Before the red flag comes unfurled.
I sit and wait. My butt is numb.
Expectations from the chair.
I get up to see what's come--
Checking, seeing if it's there.
All my life I've been so good--
Believe in God and familyhood.
Counting on the nicer things
They promised me, I sit and wait
Beneath the shelter of the wings
Spread protecting all that's great.
What I've worked for all my life
Was just a cruise, me and my wife.
Now they're telling me a crisis
Dropped my share below its worth--
A crash; a war; the sun god Isis
Dried up lakes and scorched the earth.
All I get for working hard:
Handshake and the handle, "Pard".
TO THE TURKEY IN THE STRAW
They call it pop. They say it jigs.
Neat, but they won't say it's good.
No satisfying bourgeois pigs,
But I'm not saying that you should.
Why would you do that?
Why would you try?
They're bacon fat.
I'd have to lie
To make them think I wouldn't eat
The rich before I kissed their feet.
FOR ART'S SAKE
Helpless artists raging on
Oh, the pain.
Infantile staging on
Poison--garbage artists treasure--
It sells and lets them choose their pleaure.
January, down in Rio;
Washington in May;
La Jolla shores, the sun in Leo;
November's when they stay
Warm indoors with all the charm
You find on some New England farm
They keep their distance from the stream
That's coursing history's bend,
But you hear a brittle scream
When artists see the end:
Up till now they've broken hearts,
Now they'll take what life imparts.
SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS ARE LIBERALS
Their best lines appear affected,
Right on, right on, lacking class
To back up what should be respected.
(You won't see them kicking ass--
Timid when it comes to being
Right about the wrong they're seeing.)
Party? Party? Party. Where?
All I get's a line
Getting down to splitting hairs:
Usually straight and fine.
Rhetoric is everything
When the party lines are king.
Inside/out, about the same;
The world inside is one that came
Along with everything outside--
Our inner space is occupied.
Lines are maps made to unravel
Mysteries out of sight.
Maps are made for those who travel.
Lines made to excite
And move someone a certain way,
Read: say goodbye to have-a-say.
Unashamed to say that love
For others has ignited
Passions helping people of
The world to stand united.
That which loves and yet still hates
Is passion that no longer waits.
Passion with the countless faces,
Canebreak fire, passion races
With the wind and touches those
Who have no choice, but burning can
Bring an epoch to a close--
And to another, burning, span.
Circles widen, flames conspire,
Join together, come to be
The passing epoch's funeral pyre--
Leaving everybody free
To share the bounty after flames
Have purified, and life reclaims.
He laughed and said what we should do
To make a real change.
You'd think the way the feathers flew
He'd fired from close range.
He said, it won't hurt anyone
To orbit every supervisor
Permanently around the sun.
One potential organizer
Is 'bout to lose his lousy job
For saying what he really feels.
We're going to feel the upstairs throb
When word gets back to those shitheels.
Sourdough bread, some wine and cheese;
Sunset and saltwater breeze,
And all the romance when we met
Are memory's silent silhouette.
But shadows fade and slip away
With promises, like yesterday.
You and me, and kids are four.
Today we haunt the grocery store.
You don't like the way I shop--
Bus stop bench is where you drop,
While kids and I go in and start
Loading up the shopping cart;
I fill up the kids with bread,
Cheese and fruit and then we head
For some magazines to read--
Couple pages, then I lead
The kids out through the check-out stand:
We're all hiding contraband,
But buy something that isn't much,
Having left the cart in such
A place that it would only seem
A shopper's looking for the cream.
The contraband we bring to you:
Cheese and bread, and crazy glue
To hold together your best shoes
You need to wear for interviews.
I'd cry except it's so damn funny:
Land of plenty counting money--
Production cut almost in half.
We get by and we can laugh
About this later, when you're paid--
But Welfare has denied us aid,
And eating out is not so dumb
When food-stamps aren't about to come.
BEGGARS WOULD RIDE
If thoughts were missiles,
The dreamer would jet.
If facts where whistles
The dreamer would get
Them to our ears in just the nick
Of time to make some changes quick.
Head full of wishes
And practiced charm
Do dinner dishes
But can't disarm
The cowboy on the range today:
Might as well get down and pray.
WHAT'S TO BE DONE?
Spontaneity fine by me
But I'm not bowing to it.
When I bend is when I see
Authorities come chew it.
Like always, blind,
Then has to toodle-oo it.
To take the kiss
Of death and place it where it squares
Against the ass
Of ruling class
Those of them determined they
Should rule the world another day.
PASSIVE PEOPLE/CHEMICAL CHANGE
It's never good enough for them--
Nothing that they can't condemn.
It has to be a precious gem
Or have a beat so they can dance
To greener pastures, fame, romance
Since they're inclined to take a chance.
Pipe dreams mist reality blue;
At a loss as what to do--
Need something to get them through.
Uppers, coke and crystal meth;
Senses shear, they catch their breath
And crawl from overhanging death.
Lose their way from some confusion
And take their cues from self-delusion;
Shattered, come to this conclusion:
Act, before they all get caught.
All together, sit and plot.
Hey! Revolutionary thought:
They're planning to assassinate
The head of some repressive State,
The revolution wouldn't wait:
Can't keep folks down on the farms
When heavy-revies pick up arms.
Red lights flash, off go alarms,
Don't know what they're waiting for;
They won't take it any more.
They bust loose, all out, full bore;
Head on, getting beat but good:
Can't do what they thought they could.
They stand back from where they stood.
Now they need another flash
On the State they're going to smash.
Maybe try a little hash.
The Party thought the family
Could do without the sun.
They had only praise for me,
Being satellite number one;
The kids were planets two through five
That circle suns to stay alive.
They've come to take the warmth away,
Though it's but an ember.
May we follow? Yes, we may,
As long as we remember
We're on our own and must survive
If we're to keep the dream alive.
That's as far as Parties go--
Thin dreams left to keep us warm;
But the heavy revy pro
Is out to cause a terrible storm,
Making worse a troubled thing:
Family. Outside, how we cling.
Budget's small and they're unable
To neutralize the trouble-maker;
Televise a crime and label
Some outstanding liberal shaker
As a person who's unstable.
Someone call the undertaker.
Dump on trust, a sudden gust
Will make the pile self-combust--
And what a burn. It's like no other.
Paranoia is a must
To fire fear and blister trust
We have for one another.
No state of mind
Can set you free
Or save you from the state you're in.
Unless you're blind
The state you see
Is bad as any's ever been:
A state that takes with little thanks
And what it takes it owes the banks.
The state of things is never far
Off, cruising in a state-owned car:
Obvious kind of government cop--
More departments made to stop
You, hold you, pump you dry:
Questions from the FBI,
Secret Service, CIA,
The IRS and AEC,
INS and BIA;
NSA and NSC;
A to Z it's FDA;
ABC and DEA;
SSS and war machines:
Air Force and of course Marines
Who'll make a man of some of you.
Army, Navy, Coast Guard who
All make up a monster state
With inter-changing arms and heads.
Its purpose is to dominate
Us one and all as sickkness spreads
Its arms around and touches us,
Feels around and clutches us--
Each arm known for what it is,
Frisking, taking care of biz.
One false move, it's on your ass,
Pumping for the ruling class.
Thicker, they say, than water.
But bourgeois blood runs faster.
Can't regard this blood a clotter--
A scrape--they scream disaster.
But to our side whole sections run
Before the revolution's done.
Some are carried--brains in bottles--
Kind of person someone coddles
Because they have the egghead mind
That goes to pieces when they find
Things aren't what they thought they were
Regarding: race; the struggle; her.
Some are hopelessly confused
Because they get so easily used.
They never know what's going on--
Almost get it, then it's gone.
Hevy revy, bourgeois fem,
Somehow you put up with them.
Doesn't matter how they come,
Just so long's they do:
Sneak across or beat a drum
Down Fifth Avenue,
Bringing with them knowledge of
Science. Roots. Affairs. And love.
They can't bury history
The way they bury you
When they talk of destiny--
Their act goes on review
When history's written by the ones
Whose story barrels out of guns.
Can't hang back,
Lay down and die--
Wait till TAC-
Squads sends a spy--
Pin you flat
Inside your house:
Them the cat
And you the mouse.
Between the tides, four thousand waves
And surfers bragging on their ride;
The hotdogs having their close shaves
Off the big one called outside;
From the beach the lifeguard saves
Swimmers in the veiled riptide
That sweeps beginners to their graves--
Fathoms under, open-eyed.
Seen, unseen phenomenon
With unexpected convolution,
But never stops, keeps coming on
Like the coming revolution.
So clear that when he'd talk or write
The words came out as fine
As simple dreams. And he'd unite
Them with a single line.
That line would be the perfect one
That lead us to what's to be done.
They're Reds to kids in college
Where they first involved themselves--
In between library shelves
Until they got their rap down pat.
Now they tell us where it's at.
They have their lines
They say defines
The nature of the movement.
Get us razzled,
But no one sees improvement.
Follow them, you follow phantoms,
Left in spirit, right indeed.
Have the stuff of cocky bantams-
Morning crow, we're up to speed.
Every day the SUN's spellbound.
But follow them, word gets around.
Now they've called us all together-
Tell us, dance down stormy weather;
And since they lead us in the dance
They think they'll lead us into war.
Cocky might do for romance-
Past that cocky's got some more
Things to take into account
Before I offer up my heart:
Things like mountains to surmount--
And getting lost--survival Art.
Happy days the day we take
Over ways and means to thrive,
Thriving, learning how to make
The love that's in us come alive:
Satisfying every need,
No longer seeing people bleed.
Time is money, people say.
When you haven't either one
You're lucky if you have a day
That leaves you any time for fun.
You live between the bills ahead
And time left when kids go to bed.
Payday nutures monster roots
That feed a ruling class;
Payday feeds a million shoots
Which someday will surpass
The stature of the trees that grew
And thrive today on me and you.
TO WILHELM REICH
Fathers drumming out dead-beat
Children over-ruling them.
Beggars living on the street,
Mothers still defending them
From a fascist reign that comes
As hard and fast as father drums.
He waits on others waking,
She agitates instead:
Bends to a little shaking
To wake the sleepy head;
Get them up and over yawning
To the revolution dawning.
Heavy. Hey. They're heros. All
For starting revolution,
Thinking they should make the call
To arms for execution
Of a plan on one who sits
Above us tearing us to bits.
It's the terrorist who thinks
Their act can get us acting
Out our working class instincts
And by their acts attracting
To the heavy revy pro
More to help them overthrow
The State. That's how it's done?
No way when we're just beginning
To realize what's to be won.
The terrorists, in anger, spinning
Out their plans that only gain
Us misery on top of the pain.
TIME IS MONEY
If time is money, what is time
When you're down and out?
Time's a monkey, trying to climb
On your back to shout:
There's no land of milk and honey
When you don't have any money.
When you haven't any money,
You're usually killing time;
You work all day or else do funny
Things to try to climb
Over, under, in and out
Of days of darkness, nights of doubt.
HAD HART HAD HEART IN '84
(Hart's Speech to the 1984 Democratic Convention)
"Yesterday I flew with gods,
Sipping on their fine champagne;
In the race despite the odds,
Thinking I could win and gain
The chance to run against the man
Who's backed, like me, by gods and ran
The country and its business so
It could survive when times were slow.
But times are fastest when defense
Costs us more than makes good sense.
"Halfway through campaigning they
(These gods, that is) could see no way
That I'd be spending fast as Fritz
On defense. So business quits
Underwriting my campaign,
Buying gas for my jet plane;
Made me look like I was lame--
They even questioned my good name.
But just like every Democrat,
I was someone who saw that
Democracy stayed in the suites
And never made it to the streets.
But Jesse Jackson, he knows how
To struggle for that privilege, now.
Because of this, it's my intent
To run as his vice-president.
"As number two I've no regrets;
I'm making sure no one forgets
That Jesse Jackson always lets
Us know the way it is because
He goes and finds out how it was:
Damascus, Jesse pays some debts;
Then Managua, Jesse jets;
El Salvador and Jesse sweats
Death squads like the Ku Klux Klan,
Where, for him, it all began.
In Cuba, Jesse Jackson sets
Records over White House threats;
Business tightens tourniquets--
How can they sell armored cars
When he and Castro share cigars?
San Francisco. Business bets
On leggy blondes and short brunettes,
Letting party suffragettes
Stand behind the man who leads
The party on to greater deeds.
"But, if Walter Mondale wins,
The man could get us into war
As fast as Ronald Reagan grins--
Like Democrats have done before,
Because the liberals have a way
Of going back on what they say.
"But Jesse Jackson's not the same--
He never liked to play that game.
Jesse Jackson fights for peace,
Justice, and a large increase
In benefits and human rights
So that the human race unites.
"Jesse Jackson's democratic,
In these times that takes some class;
They all say he's charismatic,
Charismatic! My white ass.
Leave the image at the door;
Let Jesse Jackson take the floor--
Let him talk so he can lead
Us all to fight the corporate greed."
Feels like I'm talking to
A wall the times I talk to you
About some things that we could do
To make it better for us all.
Garbage going everywhere--
The only thing you gladly share;
You're over there or you don't care
And all you do is let it fall.
Working up a fever pitch
You try to tell me life's a bitch.
Now I call that bitch a switch--
Tell me when you've had to crawl
On your knees to pick up crumbs
That fall for me and always bums
Me out because it always comes
Down to talking to a wall.
They suck you in,
You're blown away.
You never win,
What can I say?
They charm, they smile, they promise, tease,
Getting everything they please.
He gets high
To see you pucker
Up to plant one hard and square
To make another millionaire.
Young punks, no work,
Busy getting stoned.
Dress code: berserk.
Usually they're disowned
By parents cringing every time
They see another earring climb.
Young punks, no joke,
Pay attention here:
Some fire, some smoke;
Pressure gets severe;
The poor kid steals, rich kid begs
To wind up with the bitter dregs.
Young punks, why not?
Who cares? So what?
Things don't look so good
In a world that loves to hate,
Criticize and devastate.
Young punks wise up
Or learn to hold your tongue;
Don't suck lies up--
Don't go dying young;
But times you find that you can't hang,
Don't go out without a bang.
They don't make it any more--
Can't say they ever did
Much to help the working poor;
A tale someone slid
Inside our heads to make us think
A savior saves us in a wink.
I'm thinking what you've written back
Wasn't something you would say.
The tone and content seem to smack
Of a false communique.
I'm thinking I'm a candidate
The State's set up to isolate.
I'm over that when I assume
The stupes can't be that strong;
They're not in every mailroom,
Jotting notes. I must be wrong.
Paranoia! What a ham!
Face to face with Uncle Sam.
If I were still, would they rejoice?
A voice that's shrill as mine?
They haven't time to catch the voice
That's coming from the laundry line
Singing silly lyrics why
We cry until our eyes are dry.
But when I think I don't get through
To people who I know--
And letters I receive are few
Like someone's squeezing off the flow,
Something's happened. Wonder what?
But that's crazy. What a nut.
Back to guessing that the stupes
Are stronger than I think;
Secret police and super-snoops,
Social science and the shrink--
Hired on and paid to find
Out what's on somebody's mind.
Red morning sun
Will bring some rain;
Not bothered none,
My window pane
Will let me see what's past the storm
Is going to leave me dry and warm.
Freeway artists getting down,
Resurrecting souls downtown;
Slogans written on the wall,
Bringing us the midnight news;
Music playing for the call
That's getting over bourgeois blues.