DIVISION OF LABOR
So, you want to be a doctor?
Study. Seldom fool around.
Don't be cheating when the proctor
Sniffs down aisles like a hound.
Go for it, I pick up trash--
Watching fortunes turn to ash.
I wore my heart upon my sleeve,
In hopes you'd look my way;
I'm romantic. I believe
That someone else can make my day.
Though they say that love is blind,
One look at you made up my mind.
Once I had tricks up my sleeve--
Can't pull one out today,
Always felt one day you'd leave
And feel you near now you're away.
I know--they say that love is blind,
But clearly, you're still on my mind.
Wild. Swears. She drinks. She smokes.
Was knocked up by some jerk.
She left her baby with her folks--
Left town to find some work.
Single mother, Great Depression,
Can't but get a bad impression
From a woman hard as nails--
In your face when bullshit fails.
Droning engine underscores
The need for pulling up eyesores
Before the plane gets down too low:
Cessna pilot flying slow
Above the ridges and a stall--
Spotter wants to see it all.
Growers pull the best they've grown,
Probably spotted, overflown.
Leaving what they grow in shade,
Pull up emeralds, rest is jade,
Shade-bud being their last hope--
What else is there growing dope?
Growers split between two camps:
Those ganged up for gentle crime
And those who think like macho champs
And wait for breaks to seize the time:
Revolution in the hills,
Starting out on heady thrills.
Hardcore-farming out so far--
No toilets, dump, no store, no bar,
Aladin lamps light up the nights;
A dish is aimed at satellites--
TV's getting plenty use,
Generators pumping juice.
Get up with the rising sun,
Let it hang outside;
Eat your breakfast, nothing's done
Until it's verified
That CAMP's not coming this-a-way,
Safe by 9 to start your day.
CB's always let you know
Where CAMP will raid that morning;
CB operators blow
The whistle giving warning
To every grower when CAMP shows
Up where marijuana grows.
Womper settles down between
The ridges drowning out
Talk from those who go unseen
By the helicopter scout:
Guiding CAMP from roads above--
Rambo down on hippie love.
The pilots guide their forces in
Sight of plants that grow beneath
The trees, before (below the din)
Growers, by the skin of their teeth
Vanish with their plants, in fact,
Escape with their ID intact.
Growers chop remainder down
And hide it in the trees;
Happy CAMPers go to town
Doing what they can to seize
The plants and growers if they can;
But growers duck the New Age Man.
Mellow hippie. Dreams so big.
Otherwise, another pig.
Killer. Hey, thank god for dope.
Without it there'd be little hope
Except to see the rage come down
On heads of other pigs downtown
Lets's stop talking games of chance
Or talking up a hot romance;
Let's get down to high finance--
Down to cold, hard cash we sweat
That doesn't keep us out of debt.
Amazes us that it still lives
While being rotten to the core;
The odor that decaying gives
Keeps maggots lapping at the sore.
Unlikely anyone can tell
Us how it lasted anyway.
The burning sulphur fires of hell
Is sandalwood to them I'd say,
When people, hanging on, in power
Need more than just soap and shower.
Have we forgotten dreams we dreamt,
Neglected dreams and learned contempt
For living for a dream?
Weren't there dreams of lasting peace,
And dreams that promised to increase
The chance to live a grander scheme?
Have we lost our will to use
Our dreams to free what night subdues
So we may dream a bigger dream?
Getting what they want?
Enough to hang themselves?
They act so nonchalant.
Meanwhile interest delves
Into habits, present, past:
Someone's freedom's going fast.
Golly, Ollie, I just heard
You singing like a mocking bird--
A mocking bird that coyly sings
A wake-up for extremist wings:
Patriots, it's rise and shine;
Golly, Ollie, you're devine,
Singing for what's true and good,
Like apple pie and motherhood.
And patriots, like apple pie,
Can do much more than satisfy.
In fact we know it's no big trick
Indulging till they make you sick.
But golly, Ollie, how much more
Can we indulge your private war?
They'll close one eye to see things flat
Before it's put to paper
As distractions taper
Off into a world that's made
Of color, line and various shade.
O BOY, JOY
Hard to keep a smile long
Worried day and night
About the things that could go wrong
Before we get it right;
And seeing things you can't excuse
While Happy never gets the news.
You get happy feeling strong--
Or when you've shed some light
To help a few things move along
To where we needn't fight;
To where you rarely ever lose;
To where no one gives you the blues.
Watching TV's old re-runs,
Catching jokes you missed;
Getting chuckles from the ones
Who aren't trying to enlist
You into feeling life is fair
The way they play the games out there.
A woman looking in the mirror
Will soon be out the door;
First she's hiding lines she's sure
She never saw before
That man had come into her life--
And they tried being man and wife.
Haunting loneliness that greets
The evening in disguise,
Is walking aimless through the streets
With hollow, vacant eyes;
Someone passed who they once knew--
Eyes met then attention flew.
Life so dry, becoming brittle--
Chipping, cracking at the little
Things that loom so large and break
You into pieces though you take
The measures you need to survive;
Wasted but you're still alive
To dream and wonder what the chance
Is in finding joy, romance;
Fame and fortune, all the rest,
Without a fight to stay abreast;
Still alive to dream and wonder
How much longer you'll be under
Thumbs opposing what you do.
The monkey's made one out of you.
They settle in and foul the nest,
But have another place--
A spot picked out from all the rest,
To live in squalid grace--
Through another decade yet,
Through the 90's, watch 'em jet.
The puzzle that is life we try
To figure out as soon
We start to hear. But questions why
We see the silver spoon
In someone's mouth but not our own,
Or why some sleep while others moan,
Are questions that get answered with
Unlikely dreams and standard myth
They passed down from the arrowsmith.
GETTING INTO AVA
You can say I'm pussy-whipped,
but putting lips
to where they went
but my pleasure.
It wasn't easy
getting into Ava.
the only time I could,
I'd been the total jerk.
I felt like shit.
When I quit
being such a jerk,
I didn't get
in Ava again
until her views
on how we two
could get along for good
had finally gotten through.
It wasn't that hard.
It was fair,
except me being
lazy didn't fly.
be so lazy,
letting things slide by.
But getting into Ava
was everything I dreamed.
Everything I needed came
so easily, it seemed.
Ah, getting into Ava.
Love is flesh and blood and heart
And feelings that can't be confined;
Love consumes you from the start--
First it dominates your mind,
It's nothing like you once believed--
Starts itself and it won't quit;
Cancels notions preconceived,
And stays with you till you submit--
All your free time going first.
Learn again to laugh and cry,
Share the best and take the worst;
Lovers, without knowing why
They fall in love with those they do,
Come to make one life from two.
Who ever said to love and lose
Sure beats no love at all,
Must have never had to chose
Heaven just before a fall.
Thoughtful measured words seduce
You. I write every day.
But I'm thinking, what's the use?
You seldom ever stay.
You don't feel the way I do
And you do what you want;
Everything I write to you
Comes back on me to haunt
This room of mine I realize
Will never see your sleepy eyes.
From hostage in the Middle East,
To disappeared and dead
And assassinated priest,
San Salvador, to dread
Invading parents every day
In cities in the U.S.A.,
Dread their children soon may be
Involved in some catastrophe;
Dread their children might get hurt
By a battered, sick pervert;
Victim of a sadist who
Gets off seeing pain;
Or victim to a chosen few
Who follow those insane;
Or victim of the groups who seize
The planes they boarded overseas;
Or victim to a wild side,
Promising a care-free ride;
We're victims of the civil war
Rich losers want us to ignore.
They used to call us Bolsheviks,
Yesterday called Soviet
Dupes and hope the story sticks
To the specter's silhouette.
Looking like it more and more:
Another tragic civil war.
Civil war: our banner's high--
Red star on a cloudy sky.
Eyes that take me through the night--
The brightest eyes in town;
Smiles bright as day delight
Me any time I'm down;
Never quarrel, never fight--
Morning shines like polished chrome;
The worst it gets is just all right--
Except sometimes she won't come home.
I'm a victim of romance:
She mugged me with her grin;
I swear I didn't have a chance--
Where should I begin?
I often caught her stealing glances,
And her eyes would tend to roam,
Especially on the nights she dances;
Nights she doesn't make it home.
Going by she says "ex-squeeze me",
Happens every day;
Maybe she just loves to tease me,
When I'm in the way;
Every time my baby sees me,
She's as sweet as honeycomb--
She always knows just how to please me,
Honey, when you coming home?
Every time you stay away
I lose again another night
Of sleep because I'm left to stay
Up thinking thoughts afraid you might
Have found another, one who has
Won your heart and all that jazz
Mental pain, I'm told, is worse
Than pain your body feels;
No one but yourself can nurse
The pain that never heals.
Once concealed, and now too late--
You're left to inch on to your fate.
Every day gets more unreal
And you don't feel a thing;
You observe as days reveal
The ugly, hateful things that spring
To mind at night, and that's the pain:
Nightmares driving you insane.
In place of heart a funky smear
Of sentimentality's spread
Over facts like cheap veneer--
Truth might as well be dead.
Instead of heart it's paper thin
Lies and his shit-eating grin.
The slightest flux
And some see red--
That's the way it's got to be;
The poster said--
Who is going to disagree?
BUT EYES SAY YES
Feeble wills take potent pills
Or lay tracks to their brain--
Liquid trips, uncertain thrills
Pump sudden through the vein;
Some go slow and some go fast--
Pick their nose or fix a blast.
Half-gallon cartons picture faces;
Children missing from
Families who can find no traces,
Don't know what's become
Of missing children--no arrest;
Expect the worst, hope for the best.
I know why they disappear.
A death-squad walks the streets;
Kidnap to inspire fear:
A way in which the State defeats
The opposition to its rule:
Effective as it is so cruel.
The dirty work's done far away
Or somewhere dark, downtown.
The government makes us obey--
Keeping people down
By taking children from the ones
Who'd overthrow the State with guns.
Heaven didn't look so good
If she was forced to judge
It on the macho brotherhood
Who couldn't make her budge
From her opinion all that's true
Of God and heaven, here on earth,
Is learned from knowing what to do,
It's not your looks or what you're worth.
REQUIEM, MS. AMERICA
Ruin had burrowed underneath
The victories she could show;
She was dying. Ground her teeth--
Sister she refused to go
Though living lacked that healing mirth
That rose above the measured worth
That kept her grounded her here on earth.
We march with time, pause for the dead:
Family, friends--the rest unknown.
Death: regrets; the guilt; and dread
The death next time will be our own.
Awesome, sure. Most likely dumb:
From basket-cases we become
To suicides and martyrdom.
Ashes scattered, peace attained
Behind the curtained window, death;
After death all that remained,
Besides the welcome breath
Of fresh air she flew on
(Feather light, and now she's gone),
Were the memories we chew on:
Was she set and strong enough
To pull tomorrow from night?
We remarked she's frail but tough
And thought tomorrow might
See us do a little more,
Maybe this time not ignore
The pain we saw her body store.
We were good at acting nice
Behind immobile, stoic masks
Worn to watch her sacrifice
Her dignity. She finally asks,
Knowing we could see her need.
Survival was our stingy creed,
With silly prayers that she succeed.
THE LABOR SAVING DEVICE
Labor saving device, my ass:
It looks to me like overtime.
Nothing saves a certain class
From earning every last thin dime
Working for a boss who thinks
Your time is his, and your work stinks.
Labor saving. What a laugh.
Machines are treated better
Than a stiff whose epitaph
Reads like a Dear John letter:
"This, to whom it may concern:
This old body had its turn."
Labor saving means one thing:
Now there's time for more to do;
Freed from one job, bosses bring
You around to working two.
Working forty-plus a week,
If that's progress, future's bleak.
Nothing like that pearly flake
That peels off the rock;
Take as much as you can take
And marvel at the shock
Your body stands just one more time,
Running through another dime.
You never knew that you could feel
So good, you want to break;
Wishing it was all for real
While you can't help but take
Another little honeymoon
You're going to suck up from the spoon.
Your latest lover, like no other
In your wasted life;
Any time you want another,
You unfold your knife
And shovel in another hit--
As much as you think you can fit.
I saw where the monkey dies:
If it has a choice
It buys a ticket for blue skies
And lands where hearts rejoice--
So happy it won't stop to eat,
Monkey drops dead on its feet.
You tell monkeys it's your last--
You don't want to die;
Cheap vacations were a blast
But what a funky high.
When monkey see and monkey do,
The monkey in the picture's you.
GET A JOB
Get a job. You find me one
Where bosses treat you right...
Get a job. ...That doesn't run
Me ragged day and night,
On wages too low to afford
That much beyond my room and board.
Get a job. There's too much stuff
Crowding retail shelves.
Get a job. We've got enough
Goods to glut ourselves.
Get a job. Hey, what's the use?
You go to jail or produce.
It's hard to keep a smile long,
Seeing things you can't excuse.
Those who act like nothing's wrong
Never seem to get the news--
Never get to seeing that
The times that we get up to bat
The ball wears spit the pitchers hack
Or curves inside to brush us back.
Fish can't see the water
Like some don't see the cause
For why it's getting hotter
Or why so many laws
Don't do as much for you and me
As laws do for the bourgeoisie.
Plenty of change and loaded with friends
Where you go today depends;
Break some hearts, and make amends.
Get down, get high
Anything that gets you by.
How much better could your life get?
Babe on your arm and ready to jet,
Plenty of change and buddy you're set.
Get up, get in,
Play the game until you win.
Everything's right and going your way,
Everything's fine but safe to say,
Everything isn't exactly O.K.:
It's her, for sure,
She made you blue, she's got the cure.
Better get ready, better get high
Anything handy that's getting you by
But don't ever try to do something twice
That won't leave you feeling twice as nice
Gray shadows with a sheen that holds
Like satin, stiff through rise and fall
Of languid curves that end in folds
Of lurid pinks and reds that crawl
To edges where they softly feather
Into blue skies: stormy weather.
Caught between the feelings of
Two men who couldn't see
There's such a thing as too much love
That makes it hard to feel free
In front of both--one or the other
Ends up being like a brother.
She couldn't stand to see one hurt.
How can someone choose?
One she's needing to convert
From what might prove to be bad news:
Changing love of men who ache
Into one love that she can take.
A face stands for the leading edge
That's coming at us when
There're people stepping off the ledge
Ten stories up again.
Bodies fall. The buried vote
Is keeping stars and stripes afloat.
Parties promise, faces pledge
To clean things up and then
Behind the faces stories dredge
Up bodies while the yen
Sinks bankers letting dollars float
To prime the nativistic vote.
Faces in the race allege
Another ticket's been
Handicapped. Opponents hedge
Their bets on some good men.
Parties gamble. Dollars vote
To keep a stable line afloat.
PARALLAX VIEW OF OLIVER NORTH
While drama to TV
Is guessing at the facts
To stories that you see,
A sudden parallax
View of truth is witnessed by
A child soon about to die.
Before a bomb explodes
And takes the child's life,
A patriot unloads
His story while his wife
Sits behind him with a smile--
Been there for him all the while.
Those taken by her calm,
And mild, gentle eyes,
Take comfort that the bomb
That drops from morning skies
Is dropped accordingly to bring
The crashing peal of freedom's ring.
Their questions on the air,
While politicians close
Their speeches with a flair,
The child hears the whispering death
And quickly draws another breath.
From a ditch the child sees
The truth as metal rips
Apart the air and leafy trees,
Slowing as it skips
Through the body of the child--
Yet the woman's eyes are mild.
I could unwind
Before my time
And terrorize the neighborhood.
I strain to wait
To get it straight
To where the rage will do some good.
Home from work, mean as a bear,
Payday doesn't fit the bill;
No one told you life was fair;
Weren't you taught shit runs downhill?
This is going to be your life:
Mortgage, bills, your kids and wife.
AMERICAN DREAM TOO
This is going to be your life:
Getting off, your biggest thrill.
Coming home the kids and wife
Learn shit always runs downhill,
Hearing, ask me if I care,
No one says that life is fair.
Though times together usually were
Good and often prime,
He couldn't fall in love with her;
He was passing time:
He couldn't match the love or care--
No commitment--simply there.
Everybody's fighting for
Freedom and the overthrow
Of despots getting into war.
But how does anybody know
Among the many super-powers,
Is the despot theirs or ours?
So we think we know the truth.
Or so you'd think from what we say.
Once a year the voting booth
Lets us in to make our day.
Seems to me we're out of touch.
Perhaps it's that we trust too much.
Read the papers, watch TV
Thinking that we know it all.
The thing on which we all agree
Is that we're up against the wall.
Uptight, mean, or scared to death
That our next is our last breath.
I know it all from all I've read
And seen or heard from earnest friends;
Can't seem to get it through my head
That everything I know depends
On news that's spread by those who own
The means to let the truth be known.
Beneath the minaret or steeple:
Ayatollah, Pope--my ass.
Give me access to the people
Underneath the ruling class
And Popes and Ayatollahs who
Oppress the people they undo.
Daylight fades and with it run
The sights and sounds distracting
Me from thinking of the one
I left behind; the dark attracting
Thoughts that ask to spend the night;
Silky skin, white teeth, her lips
That teased and pleased me, made me light
Up from toes to fingertips.
I've never felt as much as this.
What I'd give to see her smile.
Ay! Taxqueña, every kiss
Promised it could reconcile
Opposites like sun and moon--
Your kiss would hand midnight to noon.
I can't wait to hear you say,
"I can't wait," to me again.
I can't wait, I loved the way
That night you said you couldn't then
I heard your breath catch in your throat;
You couldn't wait, and you went on,
Leaving me with words to float
Around me knowing you were gone.
You drew me in and I came to
A place where feelings spread and glide.
While ahead of me you flew--
You couldn't wait. I can't decide
I love it that way best or better
To hear you breathless, cry, "Together?"
Over rip tides strong winds blow
The whitecaps off the peaks of waves;
There're corral covered rocks below
The surface marking open graves.
Underneath, a surging tide
Worries ragged canyon walls;
On the currents heartbeats ride
The ebb and flow and waterfalls--
I once was strong and I could buck
The tides below and waves above;
But letting go, the currents suck
Me deeper into seas of love.
I'm stronger now for giving in
And going where I've never been.
SMALL FRY, BIG GAME, SUN TZU
They can see you when they move
In closer for a better look;
They notice when you skip your groove--
They think you plan to book;
Then keepers of the status quo
Will ask you where you plan to go.
Songbirds, now, no longer sing;
A shadow creeps across the land;
Stalking is the single thing
All creatures understand--
Anything that smells or sees
Knows when something's in the breeze.
We're camouflaged to hunt
Or camouflaged to hide,
Or armored so's to blunt
The slash across the side:
Some have warnings plain to see--
A sting adorns the flashy bee.
Hunt/be hunted: that's a choice
That's given those whose thoughts take voice
Who make the hunter prey to bluff:
A voice, like sticks, might be enough
To shepherd out the rattlesnakes--
A voice, I'm sure that's all it takes.
I woke up, hungover bad,
Can't believe how much I had,
Having too much fun last night.
Partied down. Menudo might
Fix the headache, so I'm told,
When you shoot tequila gold.
Squinting down into the glare
Coming off the steaming soup,
Bloodshot snake-eyes coolly stare
As the spoon dips in to scoop
Up softened tripe and pigfoot bones.
Your Sunday breakfast, Mr. Jones.
mail: John Wester