Don't do what's offensive:
One thing religions taught.
Another: war's expensive,
Civilizations have been brought
Down to rubble--not just the weak,
But leviathans at their peak.
So much for religions, eh?
Apocalypse, now everyday.
Precious is the softest nest
I think we've carved from stone.
Feathered warmly by the best
Of down the gentle winds have blown,
While storms that rip the earth apart
Have lost us to each others heart.
YOU TALKING TO ME?
You feel like the Taxi Driver,
Working on your draw;
Aim to be the soul survivor,
Prepared for shock and awe
When you're face to face with one
Who'd take away the good you've done.
I caught myself, there on the street,
Talking away to no one there;
To make the craziness complete,
I didn't even hardly care--
I could've been talking on my cell
As far as anyone could tell
But had they heard a word I said,
People'd say I lost my head.
Third world we don't have to fleece--
Or turn into a bombing run.
I said there's a way for peace,
We make enough for everyone;
The only reason we have wars:
The rich need them--and us their whores.
Jumped from a roof into some leaves
When I was very young;
Coaxed by big kids below the eaves,
Soft landing but I bit my tongue.
My tongue was out, chin hit my knees--
Bit so hard I would have cried;
Hurt, but didn't want them tease
Me, I would just as soon have died
Than cry in front of bigger kids--
I just wanted to be like them
Doing stuff my ma forbids.
But hurt no one and you know what?
I learned to keep my big mouth shut.
To die forgotten's got to stink.
To die, you being nothing but
A single quick, forgotten blink
In eyes of those you met. Know what?
Cultures pushing idolization
Leave the rest of us damnation.
Fantasies are what get us by--
With them, don't ask the questions why
Life sucks. But when the dreams we dream
Keep us going it would seem
We'll live them when our number wins--
Live those future whoops and grins.
LOOKING AT YOU LEONARD,
The solitude of strength described
ONE LAST TIME...HEATHER
Him controlling what came next,
Even though he'd not imbibed
Much at all in venal flex.
He was alone, what next was old,
New to him but common, so
Like always, he'd be cold and bold
To go where few of us would go
Suggesting jobs and government
And our beliefs in god,
Have us all so terribly bent
To act so cruelly odd--
He said, that's what we can't undo.
And all because we're there for you.
For so long you've lived alone.
Not bad, you even liked it,
Much as anyone can own.
Except there was the lonely bit--
Until you found one you could own.
Together now, you're both alone.
Without the ego, can it be done?
How else are we getting there?
The product, man, the very one
You can make and want to share.
How's your ego, can it stand
The touch of getting out of hand?
Or cliches, life if you build it,
Will it come like you had willed it?
TV shows us as monsters, fools--
It's fucking with the honest, weak.
It's one of many clever tools
The system uses, so to tweak
Control of us--our hearts and minds,
Combination schmaltz and fear;
Successful when it knows it blinds
Us to the facts so it can steer
Us away from taking action
On paper tigers holding power,
Representing but a fraction
Who're living in their ivory tower.
Give TV the thought or time
You'd give an off-hand line of rhyme.
When everything's expensive you
Are at a place with servers who
Are there for this, and there for that;
And if you ask, they'll trim the fat.
But you pay for every favor
They might do, because it's labor.
Just one sign you really care
Apart from what I do for you
Is going to get you everywhere--
I think that's all you have to do
To get me back, you know I love
You more than all the stars above.
Because I'm so undisciplined
About recalling what I see,
I toss myself into the wind
To catch a thought escaped from me--
I smoke a bowl, I take a pill,
Yes, mix a drink, take what I will.
He took chances, some were slim--
That didn't seem to bother him,
Even when he came up short
With no chance he could abort.
But what a thrill the times he jumped--
Times it worked out he was pumped.
Big heart with a bigger soul,
A laugh that makes you smile.
Your life's down the toilet bowl?
He would walk the extra mile
To pull your raggedy ass from it
And help you deal with the shit
That you got into, never mind
It's your own fault--the man was kind.
By the time that facts are known,
It'll be far too late
To kill the seeds of evil sown
By a government of hate
That plants resources where it will,
Each of them designed to kill--
Resources of the human kind,
Designed to dig into your mind.
There is one commodity
Expensive as the best:
Trust. It seems an oddity
They sell it like the rest.
The more you pay, the more you get,
Trust is not a virtue yet.
Without the cash it's one cold sweat.
One exception: trust your mate--
Not even then, when things aren't great.
Six year-old and hobby horse
That he made in school.
School's out, last day. Of course
He's in the park. No teachers rule,
Rides alone and dreams of peace,
Rides to see the conflict cease.
WINNERS AND LOSERS
The losers are the bad guys;
The winners are, well, winners.
The losers in the people's eyes
Are butchers, monsters, sinners.
The winners write the history of
All that happened, it's them we love.
Profits drive our industries,
Not care nor need. While fear and want
Fuel our furious fantasies--
Like wants are needs. Such phantoms haunt
Us to buy until we bleed--
The profits satisfying greed.
The moon is there for you and me.
Alone, apart, we're staring at
It together--can almost see
Each other in its mirror flat
Upon the sky connecting us,
Like a shiny cosmic bus.
IN GOD WE TRUST
They write, trust in god, upon it.
But we listen to the money.
From Merry Christmas to Easter bonnet
It's Santa Clause and Easter bunny
Telling us that money rules.
That's not taught in Sunday schools.
They tell their kids the boogey-man
Can't do what their Jesus can;
Jesus can protect them and
Throw in heaven--take his hand.
The troll beneath the bed won't get
You, nor will any other threat
If you trust in Jesus when
The lights go off at night again.
And it works, no monsters got
Them at night. Religion's hot.
All the women who I want yet
Are decent--not at all like me.
They like me fine, but they won't let
Me close enough to ever be
A lover so it's total frost
Coming down to their legs crossed.
Nothing goes as deep as sorrow,
Rage is shooting for the moon
Knowing that there's no tomorrow.
The moon cannot go down too soon
For sorrow in the moonlit night,
Death has never seen so bright.
He wasn't one who'd ever pucker
Up for those on power trips.
Once, one bad-ass motherfucker--
Brought together blood called Crips.
Didn't need to rob--they dealt
What so many people wanted--
Drugs you'd smoke or ones you'd melt,
That satisfied the needs that haunted
Those on boring, lonely days
There was nothing much to do.
The product sold them would amaze
Every time the times were blue.
And yes, there was the competition--
They blasted Bloods into perdition.
The life that I will never live
Is the life I've dreamt about.
I dream too much, no time to give
Attention to a serious drought
Of attention that it takes
To correct my life's mistakes.
For those who'd do us harm, he said,
We'll have to take some measures to
Protect ourselves until they're dead
Or captured, and that fact means you
Will have to give up, here and there,
An arm, a leg, you know I care--
Our freedom's in the rockets' glare--
Those who'd harm us--everywhere.
Us? I beg your humble pardon George,
Our freedoms fare on which you gorge.
BUMPKIN YANK IN EUROPE
My wife and I were tourists,
Taking in the streets of Rome.
The natives there, the natural jurists
Judging those away from home.
The Forum was our destination
And that was not too far away.
Ahead there was some excavation
Sifting through the Roman clay.
Chain link fences squeezed our walk
Down to a beggars' gauntlet that
Was lined both left and right with them--
A family one could bristle at,
Ignore, or worse, choose to condemn--
I tend to give, this time I chose
To ignore thorns of the Roman rose.
Guide books warn to watch your purse
Or wallet--even watch your watch.
Had my wallet, for better or worse,
In my front pocket by my crotch.
A teenage girl, pretty and sweet,
Held out her hand, I smiled, but no.
Her young brothers applied the heat,
Pulled at my arms--would not let go.
One of them pinched until it hurt--
Swung my right arm free and yelled.
The pinch was only to divert
Thoughts on what my pockets held.
They pulled back, my wife then asked,
Wallet? Gone. Ten second task.
Let me tell you about my wife:
Street smarts of a slim stiletto.
Seen her share of troubled life--
Grew up in a city's ghetto.
She looked back and saw the girl
Put my wallet down her coat.
My credit card--our precious pearl
One might say--that's all she wrote.
But not my wife. My wife, she turned
The tables, ran back to the thief,
Who didn't run, knew she was burned
By a woman threatening grief.
She gave my wallet back, and I
Gave up a coin, don't ask me why.
Had I but given 50 cents
To run that gauntlet there
(Sidewalk narrowed by a fence),
Would it have been enough to spare
Me being chosen as a mark?
In the States, more likely gun
Held by someone in the dark
Shadows that the systems run.
They were gypsies, we were told,
Blaming gypsies once again--
Ones who won't fit in a mold.
They say that's how it's always been--
Exploitation stocks their shelves,
A ruling class all by themselves.
News loops feed the viewer,
Morning, noon and every night;
The questions answered: fewer,
And answered with a single bite.
And few of us are asking why
There're untold stories they deny.
They're not giving up
They're not giving in
The righteous tears belong to those
Of ones living up
To living the sin
Of living their lives to oppose
She stopped me on La Rambla,
A street in Barcelona;
Down jacket pink as gamba,
Told me her name was Mona.
A frosty night, and busy street,
She asked me if I wanted her
For 50 Euros, it would be sweet--
She'd get me off, she said, for sure--
She'd do anything I wanted,
Talked the hooker's talk to lure
Me in and talked undaunted
When I said I had a wife.
She put her arm around me, hey,
Said she wasn't going change my life,
No chances she'd take me away--
I kept saying, sorry, No.
Kept on walking, she's at my side.
If I said yes, where would we go?
Even side streets couldn't hide
Us doing any sexual act.
The streets were full of people and
I'd no fear I'd be attacked
And robbed, that wasn't planned.
I walked straight, she held on tight.
I turned and asked her where she's from.
Liberia, and she smiled bright.
Kept talking how good I would come.
I stopped, said bye, and put my hands
To her smooth cheeks to draw her close
To kiss her lips, she understands--
Eyes looking like they'd seen a ghost,
And she would have no part of me.
She pulled back, you'll have to pay,
Not one part of me is free--
I still remember yesterday.
She walked away, and that was that.
Would-be Romeo falling flat.
OUR FOUNDING FATHERS
I hate to be a gloomy gus
But fuck the founding fathers.
What could they have known of us?
Changes happen and what bothers
Me is, they are in the distant
Past and they are served as demi-gods.
Communication now is instant,
Consider, now, the distant odds
They'd write the same guidelines today
As what they wrote rebelling when
Revolution's the only way
To change for them what's always been?
Heroes? Yes. Messiahs? No.
It's time to let those rich men go.
BIRTH AND REBIRTH
He felt the love
Come from your eyes
With him above
Your measured cries
That rule your heart from letting go
Into that world that hurt you so.
Interesting, this getting old,
When inside you feel the same
As you did when you felt bold
Enough to take whatever came
Your way, but now response is all
Up to experience you recall.
Took the Metro to Montmartre,
Had seen the arch for Bonaparte,
Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame,
I must be sick, it's all the same--
Tourists queue up in long lines
For souvenirs and what defines
A culture--every one is great.
To be a tourist though I hate.
In Montmartre, I had a friend--
Ex-patriot, of sorts, who'd blend
In where artists got their start--
A part of Paris where the art
Experimented with the forms
That went beyond established norms.
Greeted me like old friends do--
I'd only met him once, it's true,
More than 30 years gone by.
His welcome was so warm that I
Saw a friend I hadn't seen
In many years, but in between
We'd kept in touch. We hadn't. Though
To hear us talk you wouldn't know.
Went to a bar, upon that hill;
Talked pleasantries, that is, until
Our talk went over politics,
And what was going to be the fix;
And consciousness, and what's it take
To undo a big mistake.
I asked him, "Oh, but by the way...?"
He knew what I was going to say.
He told me, truly, that the French
Like the Yanks. The monkey wrench
That's screwing up the works is that
Our leaders' heads have gotten fat.
I agreed, but said to blame
The system: makes them all the same.
He smiled and asked if all the tears
We shed were from the shifting gears
Of industry, or was it voices
Telling us to make wrong choices?
I had to think, he had a point--
That the universal joint
Getting us to work together
Was consciousness. If we could weather
Out the storm brought on by class
Warfare, yes, it all would pass:
Class consciousness. He smiled again,
My rhetoric was waxing thin.
We finished up the wine and parted,
But a conversation started.
She can't stand to be alone
Unless she's shopping--he's the guy
Who's filling in for what's unknown
About the weather in the sky--
And answers to a lonely sigh.
I'm not good at faces, names--
Grew up blind, I'm growing deaf,
My memory's going up in flames
Turned on by an old sous chef
Who forgets the fire's lit--
Me, I can't remember shit.
TOURISTS FEELING AT HOME
Had a few beers,
From every place we went;
Shed a few tears,
Our eyes and ears
Learning that the discontent
Was anywhere the corporations
Invaded neighborhoods and nations.
We'd see Starbucks everywhere,
Even Burger King was there
And open on the holidays--
Grim, that it's no passing phase.
DUNGANNON, NORTHERN IRELAND
Green and misty rolling hills
Outside of Belfast's industries;
The somber beauty of it stills
The beast with its bucolic breeze.
Through the shifting mists of grey,
The troubles seem so far away.
THE SECULAR MIDEAST
The US used religious right
For drumming out a likely change.
The US stopped what movements might
End or either rearrange
The social order based on class,
To keep control of oil and gas.
I've always thought of suicide
As a way of getting out
Of facing coming genocide,
Torture, crime, the fear and doubt
That we're put through, and then we die--
No answers to the question, Why?
"There is only one really serious philosophical question,
and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living
is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy.
All other questions follow from that."
Priests and preachers, ones who fuck
Their loyal congregation
In more ways than one, they suck...
Bring on my damnation
But I believe religion has
Its fill of fakes and razz-ma-tazz.
Benjamin Franklin, worthy soul,
Had a favorite preacher,
Until he learned the preacher stole
His sermons from another teacher
Of religion, Ben was bummed,
His beliefs severely numbed.
Would writers of the days of old
Have written better with computers?
Of course not, but the stories told
Of the sinners and straight shooters
Would have come out faster had
They a keyboard and mouse pad.
Most are gambling for the money.
The few are in for power
And weather storms and wait for sunny
Days when profits shower
Them with tributes close to glory.
Capitalism. End of story.
The Indian givers were the whites
Who gave and took it back.
No such thing as human rights
From the British Union Jack.
And treaties with the stars and stripes
Were little more than Baby Wipes
For natives who survived the world
As the stars and stripes unfurled.
I've never had much confidence,
And surely I lack common sense--
But when you dream of lasting peace
You don't see it when they fleece
You of the comforts that you've had.
"They" being those who've got it bad
For making money, doing what
Ever it takes to kick your butt.
INQUISITION MANUAL FOR BRAZIL NUTS
If nuts don't rattle, then don't try
To crack them open, hey.
If you do, then you'll know why--
The meat hangs on all day
To the shell. Cracked, what you find
Are chunks of meat and shell combined.
My son would like to kill me
For being such a shitty father.
The prospect doesn't thrill me,
But I wonder why he'd bother.
The father to us all, this world,
Is under what flag's been unfurled.
Had a few beers
And bought souvenirs
In the town of Amsterdam.
Went to a cafe,
We might have smoked a quarter gram.
The freedom is real,
Don't have to steal
Freedom from the government.
People are fair,
And all they care
Is that you're not a malcontent.
Amsterdam, yes, Amsterdam,
You've always been so kind
To people other people slam--
The innocents the world's maligned--
Jews, Ann Frank, now addicts who
Religion once had saved them from
The pain of what they're going through,
With visions of the kingdom come--
Now served up in the coffee shops;
Picture menus with a range
Of remedies from cannabis crops.
And no one there thought it was strange
To sell drugs they considered soft--
Who's the victim? someone scoffed.
Amsterdam, canals and dikes,
Its population moves on bikes,
Likely you've never seen the likes
Of a town like Amsterdam.
Canals crisscross the city streets.
Good folks, good beer, sturdy eats,
And tolerance there that surely beats
The Puritan from the tightest clam.
Soft drugs and sex that they sell here
Are casual as a bottle of beer;
Frank and honest and full of cheer,
Were the folks of Amsterdam.
These are sheep you won't see laughing
From the heart or belly;
But you'll see some serious graphing
Charts for Machiavelli
To support his latest schemes
To fleece the people of their dreams.
WHAT WE'RE WORTH
If there's a heaven, earth is hell.
I don't even doubt it.
Not much difference I can tell,
But I can talk about it.
Hell is torture, tragedies,
Everybody has a story;
Hell is swift dark comedies,
With events that have no glory--
Unless the story's been retold
To suck somebody in
With nothing more than fool's gold--
A story wearing thin;
That there's no heaven here on earth
Speaks volumes as to what we're worth.
I think I got it just right when
The eyeballs tumble down the lines
Until the end, get up again
And tumble down again for signs
They might have missed the first time through--
Lines on which the thoughts can chew.
I need your strength and loving care,
I need your understanding too.
I'm lost the times that you're not there,
I can't explain the things I do.
You're everything to me, my wife;
For you, my love, I'd give my life.
Frankie never bought the story
Life's a game you have to win.
He wasn't into fame and glory,
Nor was he in to giving in.
He lives his life out on the street--
He maybe has the system beat.
Oh, Van Gogh, you rascal you--
You loved life in all its forms;
Broad strokes that your brushes drew
Went beyond established norms--
A flower, a face, defiant, divorced
By brilliance storms of life have forced.
OLD, OLD FLAME
The eyes have it all;
Old bodies to waste.
My eyes can recall
And remember the taste
Of thrills still there and realize
I see it all--comes from your eyes.
But I don't need the looks so much
As do I need your bashful touch.
No longer can we play it safe,
Fetters to production chafe.
Excuse the pun,
What needs be done
Is get up off our butts.
We'll have to make some cuts,
Like the talk about what's right.
If you don't know, you're not too bright,
Or a shill for those in power
Holding on to their last hour.
When do secrets make you strong?
When do secrets make you weak?
A secret might mean something wrong.
Secrets what you use to tweak
Reality you have to hide;
Maybe then a lie's required--
Only problem, now you've lied,
The fact is now you're getting mired
Deeper in the lies you've told,
And you try digging yourself out
With another lie you mold
To fit the measure of the doubt.
Secrets that make you strong are those
About your strengths you don't disclose.
You'll have to excuse
You being my muse--
I pray it's no embarrassment.
I've nothing to lose,
Unless you choose--
Charging me with harassment.
Hurt you? Hurt you? Hurt you, how?
Are you thinking with your brains?
The only time we're in a row
Is when you're putting me in chains.
You work me half to death and then
Feed me shit to do it again.
THE SYSTEM AS SEEN BY AN OLD TURK
End this system? What else works?
You think the system's working now?
It's more than minor tics and quirks--
It's losing grip on its cash cow.
Now tit for tat and this for that
Between the hungry and the fat--
The system's going to bring us down
And burn the planet to the ground.
Did you know
The genius Van Gogh
Sold but a single painting?
Could not contrive
Resources for acquainting
People to a startling new style--
Laying colors thick as tile,
Often with a pallet knife.
His paintings made you feel life.
Once wrote his brother, where to start?
Start from the soul or from the clothes?
When a body's a subject of art
And peg for hanging ribbons and bows,
It doesn't last, but he would last--
His soulful portraits unsurpassed.
Cadmium yellows, a favorite pick--
When he needed fine lines, he'd lick
The brushes he sharpened with his lips--
Madness followed the pointed tips.
Shot himself in the chest when he
Decided he'd failed miserably.
Left a note--"for the good of all",
Ashamed for what he'd done to Paul.
With a straight razor, chased his friend--
Then brought his own life to an end.