Click here for a complete list of song titles 

 104. It's Always Christmas In This Bar

It’s always Christmas in this bar

And it’s always St. Pat’s and also Halloween

Nothing here is ever thrown away

Here, real Art always has its say

Kenny hangs up brand new work just about every 30 days

Look around, it’s the Fourth of July

It’s always Christmas in this bar


At the bar a regular proves once more that he’s just a xenophobic jerk

The piano’s always out of tune,

But just the keys that work

The soundman drinks the night away

The mix might lead you to say

That you have entered hell, but on hell’s most festive holiday


And it ain’t only the piano that’s been drinking

I’d tip my hat to Kenny, that’s if I could only find my hat

And there’s a Ringo built of stars hovering proudly ‘ore the bar

Someone’s playing the house guitar

It’s always Christmas in this bar


Johnnie’s back from his last bender

He’s mixing cocktails behind the bar

He wears his silver rings. 

He’s wearing a broad-brimmed smile.

He’s got a brand new turquoise bolo tie

And for every woman he got a line

There’d be one more bender, but he won’t return that time

Outside on the corner young and old share their papers their pipes and their pot

Some still smoke tobacco but weed says louder “up yours” to the cops

One late night some guy drove a drunken car

Through the front wall right into the bar

Thank God the pizza oven lived or some of us might just starve


And if you’re free on Sunday there’s always a free Sunday meal

All you need to do is say one prayer

And buy yourself a couple beers

Me, I always tip the cook if I find he’s still standing

And I’m proud to say that I’ve never thrown up after eating here


And yes there maybe a few bars that I’d find stranger

And the soundman and some women are real glad that Johnnie’s gone

But a stranger’s just a stranger here

For less than one half a beer

And the only fear we have to fear is when last call’s called


And it ain’t only the piano that’s been drinking

Where else have you seen people juggle people with their feet?

And Picasso and George Bernard Shaw hold court over Kenny’s lovely bar

And it’s my turn to plays guitar

It’s always Christmas in this bar

- February 2018


 103. Don

Now's really the time.

There’s something I need to tell you

But I am not gonna tell you to believe everything I say

Although I swear on my children’s heads that all of this is true

You should never ever trust anyone

Who wants to entertain you


When I was 14  I made me a friend

He was 14 too,  but with his beard he looked more like 42

For the sake of this song  I’m gonna call him ‘Don’,

If its all the same to you, 

‘Cause Don was his name too.


And Don, well Don was very strange but very very smart

He told me he knew more than anyone about WWII

That was in our school where most kids were Jews

The school alumni even included

A couple of the Netanyahus


Well Don was what we call a “contrarian”

Don quoted Nietzsche, and Hitler, and said one day he’d join the Klan

But in the ‘burbs of Philadelphia there were no Kleagles that we knew

Besides they’d never let me in. 

See, Don was Catholic, too


And although we weren’t yet 15, we took out his Daddy’s Rolls

In the nicest ride I’ve ever had to this day

Don drove us down Broad Street then shopped for clove cigarettes and throwing knives,

Then we took in a matinee

Of a very famous Noel Coward play


After, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. met us at the Stage Door

Don wanted to talk to him, and get his autograph

See, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. knew the actress Greta Garbo real well

And Don, he had stacks and stack at home of

Greta Garbo movie stills

Don also had stacks of the porno tabloid ‘Screw’

And claimed his lawyer father knew Al Goldstein well

At 14 I thought I knew a little something about sin

But boy those rags sure opened wide

My imagination and both my eyes


But Don’s real obsession, his most prized possessions,

Were guns he called his ‘private cache of weapons’

He even owed a Carcano rifle

Just like the one that Oswald used

That is if you really believe anything that

The government tells us is true


Why would any kid like me

Who knew that all of this was wrong

Would want to pal around with a guy like Don?

Might as well ask ‘Why would Bonnie Parker?’ Why would  Nathan Leopold?

Why would Eric Harris wanna hang out with Dylan Klebold?


One day his parents sent Don to a military school

Like parents like his always think they should

Me, I never really tried to keep in touch

Never thought I see him again

And hoped I never would


But then one day Don reappeared and he beckoned me over to a car

We sat in the front seat and talked, but not that long,

He wore full military dress and said he was on the run

For beating up an officer.

And BTW it was NOT his car.


I’ll leave you to make up your own minds ‘bout Don & me

I’ve ain’t made up my own mind to this day

See there will always be kids like us

Who just cannot fit in

Who spend their lives as strangers

Outside looking in


Some live angry.  Some live alone. 

Some tread a twisted path

Some become songwriters, others sociopaths

But look I felt it was the time to tell all of this to you

And then leave you wondering

Just how much of this is true.


Now what I want to know is

Did I entertain you?

- February 2018


 102. What We Are

Now that your world has gone turned inside out

And everything you hold true is plagued with doubt,

If there’s still a place where life’s wrestled free from fear,

And there’s a God who loves us,

It ain’t here.

Look, you and I both know that mistakes were made

As the philosopher said even Emperors will,

But it was telling the Emperor what kings just don’t want to hear

That got the philosopher killed.

When speaking lies is safer than speaking true,

Listen friend. There’s something you can do

Take your broken wooden heart

And carve yourself a gypsy violin.

Make it laugh just like a mother’s crying.

Listen while it whispers ‘The world isn’t dying

And tomorrow‘s really not that far.


Tomorrow’s what we are’.

Get in my car.  I’ll drive us down to Ancient Rome,

54 AD.  Emperor Nero ‘s at home.

At night in his garden, Christian torches* aglow

He entertained the masses with a fiddle and a bow.

And like the late Spade Cooley, he kicked his wife to death.

He killed his brother and his mother, too.  It’s true.

And before Rome knew what hit her, fires would grow.

Tell me, does this sound like anyone you already know?

Somewhere hope can’t hurt you, it only makes you strong.

Somewhere no one claims a thing’s right that’s just plain wrong.

Somewhere men know we must walk awhile in another man’s shoes,

And that a lie is a lie, and not ‘fake news’.

The stones on your chest ain’t really new.

These fallen seas around us can rise for me and for you.

Take your broken wooden heart

And carve yourself a gypsy violin.

Make it laugh just like a mother’s crying.

Listen while it whispers ‘The world isn’t dying

And tomorrow‘s really not that far.


Tomorrow’s what we are’.

-February 2017

*What’s a ‘Christian Torch’, I hear you ask?  First, take a Christian.  Tie him to the top of a long pole.  Then douse him with pitch, and set him on fire.  An unusual light.

 101. A Short One On Life (for KR, Tom Skinner, Skyline Radio, and Tulsa)

She walked in.

She looked around.

She picked me out and she spun me ‘round,

And said, ‘Kiss me now boy, but don’t ever take your eyes off me'.

To this day, I ain’t sure if this story’s even true.

Tell me, does this kind of shit ever happen to you?

‘Cause it ain’t never happened to me before in my whole goddamn life.

And maybe, well maybe, she’s just real drunk. I couldn’t tell you.

Me, I’d rather take what comes then try to tell a river which way to run.

‘Cause there is only one fact that I’ve hewn hard from my long life,

And that’s that life, well it ain’t that long.

If she had a nickel,

Or so I was told,

For every one-night wonder with a heart of gold

And a name for his cock that no thinking person would ever even name a dog,

Then she might have had time for nicer finer things.

She might’ve even stayed home past age 13,

When with her father’s long coat and his cigarettes,

She hopped a freight train for Tennessee

And maybe, just maybe, she’s just crazy. 

And sometimes, she’s just hurt.

But who needs a stranger’s tears.

A stranger’s more use for vodka and beers.

And you’re never gonna make me believe it’s a sin to want a warmer place to sleep,

Even if just like life, he ain’t that long.

Some folks got names for women like her,

And she knows the places those kind of folks can go.

The small minded kind who like to pass judgement.

Well, they can all just kiss her ass,

And then kiss the ass of the woman who should have been president.

There ought to be a law against stupid.

Well, we stayed a couple  

For a couple go ‘rounds,

As if two losts could ever make a found.

We were off and on and in and out for two years that I will never see again.

Well, I could complain out loud how my life unwound,

But that’s just the way that some lives are bound,

And though you know you can’t step into the same river twice,

Don’t mean you’re ever gonna quit tryin’.

And maybe, well maybe, life’s meant to be crazy, sad and strange,

Messed up and poorly planned, and the only one you’re ever gonna have.

But sometimes, well sometimes, I get a little lucky, and something comes along,

Like a short song about life, how life ain’t that long.

A short one on life, how life ain’t that long

- June 2015 

 100.  Think What You Will

"The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American Left who hates Christendom. ... What I'm talking about is onward American soldiers. What we're talking about are core American values." Rick Santorum at a South Carolina campaign stop, Feb. 22, 2011

Think what you will.

Say just what you think.

It’s a free country still.

Tell us what’s gone wrong.

Tell us what’s at stake

If we deny

What we all know Jesus hates

About our blessed country.

Everything you think

You know you think is true

Don’t you?

And everywhere you go

You find folks who see things like you do.

Which only proves

That  those  who  disagree

Well, they’re just misinformed

Or more likely, what they are are liars

Provocateurs Skivers Intellectuals Defilers

And of course you think

That no patriot can shrink

From the greater task at hand

To root out those who disagree,

To punish those who’ve earned our calumny,

To sever the cancer that corrupts

Our one True God’s country

Only then will men finally see

The wisdom to agree

With righteous men’s advice

Or, put more clearly,

Rich white avarice.

 -September 2011

 99. What Is It That You Want? (for Diane Izzo and Marco Zas)

What is it that you want

This time?

Can you put it into words?

Would you know it if it bit you?

Could you wrap your fingers around

Those dreams that are put there to kill you?

Tomorrow’s lying face down in the road

Congratulations! You’re our one millionth new Tom Joad.

But if you don't believe what’s just been said

This is a wake-up call

But are you already dead?

Listen up Brothers and Sisters

What is it that you want?

What is it that you want?

Yes you.

Face facts

You better fucking think this through.

But you don’t know what you want, do you?

Here’s a mirror.  Tell the truth.

You laugh. You smile. But you’re just a liar

You're blowing smoke but without the fire

You say you can live without desire?

Can you name anyone else who would even want to?

Can I get a witness brothers and sisters?

What is it that you what?

Is it a brand new car?

A brand new wife?

A good night’s sleep?

A decent life?

To die in your own bed with your loved one’s near?

Your soul to keep?

Or just one more year?

Do you want to sing to hear to see

To walk to talk to live to breathe

To know deep in your soul

That you were once worth something to someone

That you ain’t yet died inside

That your ship ain't sailed its last time

And when it all finally slips away

That your life has been one hell of a stay

Testify for me Brothers and Sisters

What is it that you what?

 -July 2011

 98.  A Stoopid Broken Heart (for JJ)

A day don’t pass me by that a perfect stranger doesn’t tell me

That I remind them of someone that they once loved or knew that’s died

I smile back at them as if to say 'Well, thank you'

‘Cause it’s good having been seen for having tried.

Like you, I’m here to raise a glass to all my lonely foolish dreaming

The cup spills over sometimes when the troubles start to swell

No right minded no one wants to break down to a stranger

So that’s why God made bars and girl bar singers and one-night cheap motels

But hey you look like you’re just drunk enough that you might understand me

Let me pull on your coat awhile 'til the night pulls us apart

There ain’t nobody sober gonna talk to me tonight

‘Cause they’ve all heard this one already about me and the girl bar singer and

A stoopid broken heart

I know just why I came here but I know I won’t admit it

At least not until I had a few more than a few

I’m staring at the stage wondering when she’ll get started

A few more and every song she sings will be about me, too

She sings of loneliness like it’s something she invented

She’s kicking at my head from the inside

She shatters my illusions that I just might one day be happy

Then she leaves smiling before I can drink up all I can’t hide

But friend if you’re me friend you'd think you’d tell me

But I’m too drunk to listen and the night’s torn me apart

There ain’t nobody sober gonna talk to me tonight

‘Cause they’ve all heard this one already about me and the girl bar singer

And a stoopid broken heart

-Nov 2010

 97. Somewhere


It’s almost certain


Somewhere it's almost certain life has finally wrestled free from fear.

Somewhere it's almost certain there is a God who could love us,  But man, He ain't here.

But it’s almost certain somewhere 

Somewhere it’s almost certain hope can’t hurt you. Hope only makes you strong.

Somewhere it’s almost certain no one claims something’s right when it’s certainly wrong.

It's almost certain

We’re running somewhere in a coward’s parade.

From a world that is poisoned, broken and sick.

Go on. Try to breathe freely. You’ll drown in shit.

What dreams you've left obscure your view.

The stones on your chest ain't new.

It's almost certain

They were hewn somewhere.

Somewhere maybe men know just how hard it is to walk in another man’s shoes.

Somewhere all the so-called lovers of Jesus know

Lies are called lies, not "the news"

It’s almost certain

Is it true in their somewhere no one has ever died?

A somewhere where nature’s defied?

Where you can live unwounded and clean

With nothing to learn or to lose

‘Cause you’re sure? Or a fool?

It’s almost certain


You don’t need to die just to be reborn.

No man lives a life that’s untorn.

But you’re being cheated by powerful men

Who think they’ve nothing to learn or to lose

‘Cause they’re sure

You’re a fool.

They’re so certain

They’re somewhere

-October 2010    

 96. Nine Is The Lucky Number (for Jeff and Emi on their wedding day)

Five hundred years after the war (the one Thucydides retold)

Or about a hundred since Julius C. had remade

What Lucius M. had so well razed

A letter penned in Ephesus

Sailed across a wine-dark sea

180 miles west

To Corinth on the Peloponnese

It’s subject, immorality

And faith and hope and charity The greatest being charity

But when we stow our children’s things (Translations by an English King)

Charity is replaced by love (Very much a marriage thing)

Horns of jealousy are veiled

Women’s teeth are painted black

One thousand and one paper cranes

Sail gold across pacific seas.

From another Island Nation-State

To an Eastern sea-board town

Two families fuse their two

Southwest mile high desert kin

Three times three (san-san-kudo)

Stand with your greatest human flaws

Hate and pride and ignorance

Behind a 14 welders lens

And you can look straight at the sun

And re-read Paul’s 1C13

-June 2010

  95.  Ain’t It So Nice Outside Today?

"There but for fortune may go you or go I" - Phil Ochs

Ain’t it so nice outside today?

Ain’t it so nice outside today?

There’s so much you want to do.

Ain’t it so nice outside today? 

His back's been broke a couple times.

Her neck just won’t bend quite right.

He lost his left eye in some bar fight.

Her shoulder’s froze up tight.

She can’t mount a flight of stairs.

Can’t climb out of a chair.

He said, 'My head got busted with a 2 X 4,

Since that day doc, it’s like I got no soul no more."

 And it hurts so bad,

And it’s hurt for so damn long now.

The pain won’t ever go away.

But I gotta live another day.' I wanna live another day.

'Cause there's just so much I wanna do

And it's so nice outside today.

Sister been deaf since she was born.

Brother been blind since he was two

From something he caught from momma when he got born.

Whatever it was carried momma off too. 

Your good hand keeps dropping things. 

Your foot feels like it’s made of wood.

Can’t walk. Can’t talk. Can’t stand. Can’t sit.

And there’s blood every time you take a shit. 

And it hurts so bad,

And you ain’t worked for so damn long now.

The boss won't dare your coming back.

And if you don’t work, well you don’t get paid

So you can't live to work another day.

And there’s so much you still can do. And ain’t it nice outside today?

The nurse, she said good luck 

She give you these pills, but you don't know what they do.

But these pills, they just don't see you through.

It's like helplessness is just another word for nothing left to lose.

There but for fortune

She said 'Doc, the meth ran out.,

And I crashed real hard

February. The cops found me down

Outside an E/R that'd been shut down.

Seems I’d slept too long

I slept too hard on my right arm.

They said there weren’t nothin’ they could do.

Doc said he had to cut it off before time I’d come to.

And it hurts so bad.

And it’s hurt for so damn long now.

I can’t even feed myself.

But didn't Jesus

Didn't Jesus even ask God himself?

Didn't Jesus ask even ask God himself?

Why can’t I live another day?

'Cause ain't it so nice outside today.

Ain’t it so nice outside today?'

helpless hopeless aimless homeless pointless

toothless limbless useless faceless worthless


But it's don't cry don't cry don't cry

Baby don't cry

‘Cause there’s still so much that you can do

And ain’t it so nice outside today?

-November 2009

  94.  All Out Tomorrows


It’s a brand new me

Stoney broke 'n broken down

‘N so low down ‘n so let’s dive deep down in

Look, I took my wooden heart and carved me this gypsy violin

Listen while it laughs just like a mother's crying

Let its sorrow burrow into you A brand new tattoo

 We’re sailing cruelly random seas

The effluent of time and stupidity

On shore in rock crags pools beings evolve

Slippery as history

Here, the now and then squirm and throb and teem

Alive only for one ebbing tide

Then drown again like stones

Or truths we’ve cast aside

Fallen seas always rise

So haul all your tomorrows along with you

Don’t ever let them go

Don’t let go


What we are

Bodies strewn up in the crowns of trees

No better place for hiding leaves,

Pause in awkward dangle awaiting autumn coloring

Look, I really loved you

But you just can’t take it in

I really loved you

It’s so hard to know the one’s who’s true From those put here to fuck with you

So you’d best haul all your tomorrows along with you

Don’t let them go too far

Tomorrow’s what we are

Haul all your tomorrows along with you

Don’t ever let them go

Don’t let go 

-July 2009

  93. In Between Kingfish

Kingfisher's Sam M. Walton will ‘splain you from his grave

Just why he can’t be undersold

He's was where I bought this brand new tent

Run me less than one month's rent

Or a-tenth the mortgage I used to owe

That was 'til the paper was worth more than the house, and the bank said: “Go!"

Still, winter and Fresno won't meet up again until sometime late Halloween

But by then who knows just how bad things just might be

So for now, like all these other families

In all those other tents

I just got caught up a little in between

A little in between

Folks say California’s a garden of Eden Abhez ‘Nature Boys’

Clever as their tans, and beach-stoned to a man

But here in this inland No-Town, lives remain

‘Bout as easy as fallin’ 'neath a train.

Gov’ner closed New Jack City, but said we can move on up to his state fair 

And his state cops can watch us closer there.

Summer and Sacramento bake you drier than a stone

200 miles north of all you had and all you’d known.

Noiw you're strung out like a wire

Hung from what your future was to wherever the hell your your future's gone,

And you’re left hanging in between and on your own

Forgotten and alone

The Kingfish Huey P. Long sang there’s ‘nough for folks to share

And if you all work hard, you can even be a millionaire

They called him a demagogue, bolshevik, cracker and clown

He sang “Every man a king but no man wears a crown”

He built bridges and highways and the hospital at LSU

That was 'til a doctor shot him in 1935 and he bled to death at the age of 42.

Woody Guthrie and F.D.R.

Sit with Sam and Huey in an abandoned car

Behind a vacant Wal-Mart in a town like them that’s died.

Huey strums Woodrow’s guitar

And sings a song for working folks with kids who gotta live in their cars.

Franklin whispers sweetly, “In this light, Samuel, you look just like Eleanor.”

And Kingfisher’s Sam M. Walton can’t recall just what the hell his whole life was for,

Although he’s sure it was gold

Or maybe it was green

Or maybe something in between

-April 2009

 92. Versteht? Or Whose Hands And Whose Hands?

Did you know that Brecht used to sing songs with a guitar in coffee bars? Note: This song is written entirely in German, except for the words.

Hey,  let's say we play this brand new game,

One where I make up all the rules.

And on your turn you follow all these rules to learn

That I've changed them all

And that it's always your turn.

And the game's called "Watch You Dangle" From every bone you’re thrown

Do you know that all you know Is just so very very very wrong.

C'mon Everybody, sing along!

Swing your hammer of a head and ring the bell.

All your dreams are dead as hell

'Cause I've got your whole world in my hand. I've got your whole world in my hand.

And what part of "Fuck you!" don't you understand?

I remember when they used hold you up

Like a diamond against the sun

And I'd watch you as you caught the light

So that anyone who dared look at you would go blind.

But they say that what goes up

Sometimes needs a little help to land,

And that what goes 'round sometimes swings around

Wielding something shiny sharp and heavy in it's hand.

It’s so easy to fall for love with the ones one should avoid.

Look deep into my dark blue smile

And see what’s lying tightly coiled:


Hey I like you.

I do.

I even respect you, too.

Think of me as a faithful friend and fan.

Then watch as I wield your loyalty and trust

To turn every friend you ever had against you to a man.

And the game‘s called “What’s the poison?”

That I've poured down in your well.

Spreading lies can satisfy

Near as much as pulling wings off writhing butterflies.

You’d never believe it if I told you

What the guy nailed up on that cross believes is true. It's true.

And I’ve got your whole world in my hand. I've got your whole world in my hand.

And what part of what you've heard don't you understand?

If you know "What Keeps Mankind Alive?"?

Sing it in the German if you can.

And what part of "Fuck you!" don't you understand?


-March 2009

 91. '77/17

"[You] creep me was thirty years ago ...get over it" – Nancy H

'77 /17

It was fucking easy being green

And there, proudly on the movie screen 

A rock and roll transvestite queen

Midnight lips

My first kiss

Susan Saradon’s lovely tits

John and Paul, Glen, Sid and Steve 

And a brand new Elvis stops the TV

Harry Reems gets out of jail

William Jefferson Clinton still don’t inhale

But she let me put my fingers there

Then Nancy slipped off her underwear

'77 /17

A couple hundred nights and Christ, I really loved you Nancy

'77 was like a blur

The Pistols flipped off the whole fucking world

Steamed up car windows radio nights

Policemen and their long flash lights

Bee Gees under winter stars

Not all the way, but really really far

I swore to her that my love was true

And God knows I longed to show her, too.

So I walked hours to her house through streets of snow

Still, Nancy'd never tell me no

Though if she had, well I would have died

What a fucking perfect way to go

'77 /17

Many many many many many nights and

Christ,  I really loved you Nancy

It was '78 when eighteen hit

I was college-bound

I was dumb as shit

The music died at Winterland the fourteenth day

I prayed she wanted me to stay. but she wouldn’t say

God she really made me sad

But to her it looked like I got mad

So one day I just didn't talk to her

And to this day, Nancy ain't never said a word

Sid and his Nancy were a year away

But me, I think I really died that day

I want to go back and learn

How not to love someone in turn

Who lets you kiss 'em at a show

Where every punk that you know knows

'77 /17

Jesus Fucking H. Christ, I really loved you Nancy

Mary  Mother of God, I really loved you Nancy

-December 2008 

 90. You Can’t See Me in This Light (for Rachel Langer)

All needs be

Seen by me

Is lit by the light

Burning steady in your eyes

Ruby glowing coals

Bank the timbers of your soul 

A strange strong light

Burning steady in your eyes

Shine on me

Let your light shine down on me

It don't matter you can't see me in this light

But let your light shine down

If there’s a point

To have a heart

It’s so I'll know

Just what it means to lose it

And man it's gone

I'll never find it in a night that's gone this blind

From the white pure gleaming

Burning steady in your eyes

Shine on me

Let your light shine down on me

It don't matter you can't see me in this light

But let your light shine down

All love is

Is a door ajar

You're drawn through

After light falling from a star

Build me a cage Out of your arms

I will be a perfect effigy

Burning steady in your eyes

Shine on me

Let your light shine down

It don't matter you can't see me in this light

But let your light shine down

-December 2008

 89. A Tout Jamias (Pour Eva)

Is this for Eva,

This world that is all that it is?

Whatever it is, or was, never bothered with me.

And our mad conjurer Wittgenstein strolls out onto the sea

With a small map of Europe tucked under his arm 

Which he unfolds to be

Vast new and unwanted territory.

If you really can't say, try saying nothing

For Eva

Again I have chosen to say nothing

For Eva

And for Eva

I’ll hide on my side of all our unknowns.

I am adrift and subdititious. I have lost my home.

So I’ll winter in the branches of an old dead tree.

From the wood open arms and cling to the breeze

Blowing through all those moments which could never be requited

For Eva

Sometimes some things cannot be

For Eva

And Eva

When you unsubmerge you’ll no doubt be found

‘Neath that hat. The black-hearted poppy periscopes over the crown.

To spy the horizon, hope’s vanishing point,

A green Flanders’ field.

I sit nearby where the world came to die but the poppies are real

And I break bread with the crosses and stones

Which stand row upon row upon row as no doubt they know

Every one that once was, was once the case.

Every one that once was, was once the case.

For the ones the world lost here the world makes its case

With a novena for those the world never knew

And all the others the world's forgotten

And Eva

The ninth day’s prayers are held safe

For Eva

-November 2008

 88. The Lucid Nightmare Revenant

When I finally cease to be

I won’t leave anything behind.

All those crazy troubled thoughts I shared

Will no longer prey upon your mind.

When I finally cease to be

I won’t even leave a stain.

It’s no trick to disappear

When you ain't never, ever,  really came.

Every trace has been erased

The dust shook off to the wind.

Dare to think of me and all you’ll feel

Will be some kind of phantom limb.

If you’ve memories of me

They’re only memories of you.

See, I was never really there

And the past's gone missing too.

When I finally cease to be

It won't even make me sad.

There’s no memory of pain

Of all the times that I got had.

There’s no long shadow that I cast.

I leave no footprints where I stood.

Derision whittled away the best.

Laughing women undid what they could,

Face facts. You cannot give away

What no one wants to take.

And no one keeps what they don’t want

Despite any “Thank You’s” they might make.

But what’s not been taken does decay

With a lonesome hollow sound.

'Til there’s nothing of me left.

No one, nowhere bound

But truly nothing has been lost.

In fact there's something found.

A clear clean is what remains

Miles upon miles of emptied ground

There is no future I will abide

Hope’s the sword on which I fell

Dreaming is where madness lies

So I bid this bedlam fare-thee-well.

But f you insist, I will seal this song

In a jar which I'll then cast into the sea.

A long goodbye no doubt soon long forgot

Of when I finally cease to be.

-November 2008

 87. Wrong

I am always wrong about these things

I am always wrong about these things

Wrong about which songs to sing

Wrong about which songs to sing

Still, I am often wrong about these things

Seems I’m always wrong about these things

Wrong about my masterpiece

Wrong uptown friends, wrong ice, wrong grease

Wrong neon, floods, hipsters, engines

The wrong kind of dirty magazines

Wrong kinds of starts, false finish lines

Wronged hearts to bring, lost ways to find

I am very often wrong about these things

Very very wrong about these things

The poems gone wild, fake teas and blues

Bad bedrooms, women, and uncorrective shoes

And though I can be wrong about these things,

And I am always wrong about these things,

And misunderstand what the summer knows,

Right about the banjo, though.

-June 2007

 86. The Wednesday Boys

Monday's child is fair of face,

Tuesday's child is full of grace,

Wednesday's child is full of woe,

Thursday's child has far to go,

Friday's child is loving and giving,

Saturday's child must work for a living,

But the child that's born on the Sabbath day,

Is fair and wise and good and gay.

-A Fortune Telling Song

I was born a bastard in a Brooklyn.. NYC hospital on January 27, 1960, a Wednesday. It rained the next few days.

Cut it loose.  Cut it loose.

For Christ’s sake, dig it out and cut it loose,

The rueful treasure in your chest, the buried child that’s of no use.

The bitter gilded stupid sorrow so staunchly unsurrendered

From that hollow part that once held a heart.

Tune it out. Tune it out.

Turn it off.  No one is even listening.

Even to a kind, kind friend, it only sounds like pissing.

You've been betrayed again and again by a restive, unforgiving brain,

And by those songs that always seem to make it fucking rain.

I ain't going down this time.

You can’t bring me down again.  This time it’s mine.

I've no more room for shadows.

I’ve no more time for that kind of noise.

Say good-bye to one of your Wednesday boys.

Look again.  Look again into that mirror.

Cross yourself down and count to ten.

The stranger in that unkind glass ain’t never been no real good friend.

Although you both could stand a real good talking to.

Would he listen this time?

Ask yourself, would you?

So cut it out.  Cut it out.

Come no nearer, not even for that one last look.

Step of the shadows. Lift the chin up off the hook.

Leave behind the songs that always make it rain,

And all those holes where you earth your poisoned honeyed pain.

I’m ain't going down this time.

You can’t bring me down again.  This time it’s mine.

I've no more room for shadows.

I’ve no more time for this kind of noise.

Say good-bye to one of your Wednesday boys.

-May 2007

 85. Yesterday's Wrong (Green)

Hope springs eternal in the human breast; Man never Is, but always To be blest: The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home, Rests and expatiates in a life to come.-Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744)

Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, Or what's a heaven for? - Robert Browning  (May 7, 1812 – December 12, 1889)

Once upon a time the time was now.

And 'Yesterday' was just a popular song.

Tomorrow and today feigned to get along.

And then yesterday went wrong.

Brightly shown the mise-en-scene.

The earth and the air and the sun were green.

And you knew that there was something you were gonna be

And then, yesterday went wrong.

Where you gonna go

Once the world says, “Man, you no longer belong”?

Where you gonna go

Once yesterday’s wrong?

It ain’t rained here in real real long.

The earth’s parched in tomorrow’s heat.

You’d drown at the bottom, but your well's run dry.

Hearts are punished for each done good deed.

Got to eat a frog, better swallow fast.

Got to eat two? It’s the small one last.

They’re all brightly colored as your checkered past

And as poisonous as yesterday’s wrong.

Where you gonna go

Once your purpose has been scavenged by a murder of crows.

Hope’s a magpie choking down stones.

And yesterday’s wrong.

Do the horrors around you no longer make you gasp?

Does your reach no longer exceed your grasp?

Do sorrow, shame and fear borrow to your core?

Have they finally wrestled from you just what a heaven’s for?

The future’s seared, furled,  gone,

Lost to the wind like seed.

But hope springs eternal for the beautiful,

The powerful, the stupid, and effete.

Green expatiates its own kind,

Selling off the places a man could rest his mind.

Man should have been blessed, now he’s lost and unkind,

And his yesterday gone wrong.

Where you gonna go

Once the world says, “Man, you no longer belong”?

Where you gonna go

Once yesterday’s wrong?

-April 2007

 84. And Jessica Smiled (for Jessica Mills)

Love without hope,

As when the young bird-catcher

Swept off his tall hat to the Squire's own daughter,

So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly

Singing about her head, as she rode by.

--Robert Graves (1895-1985)

How’s your weekend going?

They’re always going.  Think you could ever make one last?

Kiddo, from my end, I fear a fool’s heart always breaks way too fast.

How is it that a girl?  How is it that your smile

Could make me so proud to be humbled, broke up, and beguiled?

Kiddo, I am just another stupid fan,

An old weak, married, foolish man.

But you, you are wild life, a pistol, sex, and white light,

A dancing pyre built of a thousand burnished diamonds.

Dare I take your hand?  Crash with open arms wide?

'Til everything stops still as you flash another smile?

I pray that this song finds you,

And wherever it finds you, that it find you well.

Kiddo, did I forget to mention my wife?

She said she liked you. I can always tell.

Me, I hold to this kind of bent Punk-Christian view.

Always try to ask myself, “Now just what would our Sid Vicious do?”

And when I find an answer to put my heart at rest,

I draw a broken bottle across my chest.

But if God could just forget, or forgive, just this one time.

If Sidney is still dying for all these stupid sins of mine.

Then grace might co-mingle with ecstasy

While my mounting stupor whiles

Away everything that once seemed somehow important

Before Jessica smiled

Kiddo, I just an old man.

Even less of an old man than some knotted old tree.

But Kiddo, can you help me try to remember just how it felt to seem so free?

Young mens’ inspiration just spills down from above

While we old just prattle on about Graves and hopeless loves

And you, you’re young and rare enough it’s true

To be the squire’s only daughter, too.

But all the larks asleep within my hat

Dream of their escape to fly and sing about you.

All the drunken drumming, the singing madly in that room.

And underneath the din,  a rock rolls from a tomb.

But do I long for you, or what could have been

Had I been wanton heedless and wild?

Or is it just that for so long, I have so longed

And then Jessica smiled.

It’s  a heartache

Nothing but a heartache

Hits you when it’s too late

Hits you when you’re down

-April ‘07

 83. True, True Love (To Vernon Tonges and Stacey Earley on their wedding)

Gather all ye myrtles brown

Watch all the queer town folk dance round and round

There’s confetti in the air

Loosen up your underwear

Put on some Uncle Peter. 

Plant your lawn chair near the sound.

Listen to a few delightful lies

As the hummingbirds and the horseflies

Try and guess each others size

The dried flowers and fresh weeds

In that bouquet you tossed into the trees

What kind of shadows do you throw when you're under moon and stars?

I’ve never seen this man so happy

Or this woman brought so near to tears

She can’t stop laughing.  Can you blame her? It’s been years.

Tell me where do you think your life begins?

Listen up young feller.  Can’t you feel it on your skin

The strongest, the strangest smell

In all the world that I’ve heard tell

Is True True Love

Is True True Love

He will be her sword,  she his shield

They’ll sow queen’s anne lace together along the Elysian Fields

They’ll take the time to watch it grow

From down here it looks alot like snow

They’ll stare into each other’s eyes until this winter dies

 She’ll lay down with him and make angels

He will piss a heart into the snow

Children learn to doubt there’s springtime if desert winter’s all they know

You can take your stupid little smirk

You can shove it up your ass, you lost and lonely cynical jerk

For the sweetest, the deepest smell

The purest water from the well

Is True True Love

Is True True, True True Love

 -August 2002

 82.  The Ballad Of Mary O'Connor

By the mid-afternoon of September eleven,

Mary O'Connor had emptied her draw'r.

She was saying goodbye to her office in midtown,

Four-sixty Lex, on the fortieth floor.

Ride, ride, Mary O'Connor,

Down to the street, to the sirens and cries.

The fortieth floor ain't no place for you, Mary,

The air's filled with paper.  Ash chokes the skies.

So for months she stayed home; she was taking no chances.

Her city still smoldered with fire and fear.

But she found an old photo of her as a child,

Her hair lit with sunshine, her eyes brave and clear.

So high, Mary O'Connor,

Up on the top of the Empire State.

Your mother would take you 'cause that's what you wanted.

From up there you'd dream of the life you'd create.

So twelve months, and a line winds along Thirty-Third Street.

The mood, it is quiet, the faces are grave.

When a guy makes some joke about bombs and bad timing,

His wife twists his arm and says, "Can't you behave?"

Ride again, ride, Mary O'Connor,

Back to the top of the Empire State.

The wind up there whispers of all that you'd hoped for.

It's waiting for you on the eighty-sixth floor.

So ride, ride, Mary O'Connor,

Up to the deck on the eighty-sixth floor.

Remember, this city still has hopes for you, Mary,

And you'll see 'em all from the eighty-sixth floor.

-September 2002

Music and lyric by Mark Hollmann and Greg Kotis, originally published in the New York Times 11/2001 Additional Lyrics by Rich Krueger in 2002

 81. Bartender

She said

Drop dead

So I said

Tell me what you're really thinking S

o she said

Drop dead once again

And then she offered to help me

Then I said, 'No thanks I'll get there one my own'

So she said, 'Toward that end, your next drink is on me'

And I just fell in love with my bartender again

She's nice


That is if you don't spill and you tip like you mean it

And if

You try to ask her on a date

She'll bite your head off like the geek from a circus

Just like you were some sort of chicken

And if you ask me I'd say you're chicken

And I just fell in love with my bartender again

We all know that love is strange

But what I've learned since

Is that drinking here is even stranger

You sit

And you drink

And you get drunk

And then start contemplating suicide

As you reflect upon your fucking miserable life

Once full of promise now a wretched disgrace

She comes over and says "Can I help you?"

You tell her your life story

She laughs in your face

And I just fell in love with my bartender again

That's what you get for whining in public

And I just fell in love with my bartender again.

-June 1998

 80. Elizabeth (for my wife Elizabeth Hawkes)

As for me, daylight’s built for wonder

And so I wonder, who in the hell chose me

As the luckiest guy on earth

I agree.  I agree

No one deserves this.

But then again,

When was the last time you got what you deserved?


Did your momma teach you

To keep your love from dreamers?

Dreamers all turn cruel.

Protect yourself. Protect your heart.

They say, ‘A life is best kept fool proof’

But Elizabeth

No one’s as ingenious as a fool.

It’s just past noon

And me, I’m just past thinking.

When it gets this hot you could waste your time

On each and every degree.

So I just try and keep real still

Don’t worry what God’s up to.

You see, the Devil thinking,

'It don’t seem so hot to me'.


What did that Gypsy tell you

When you slipped her ten to have a look

At your future so far?

Did she smile?

Did she cock her head the way a moon rises on Saturn?

As if to say, 'All you need to know is who you are'.

The day is gone

And again I have accomplished nothing

Save to notice how the sunset isn't seen colors like this in years.

Cause when you’re lucky as me

There’s no need to be ambious.

Lucky enough to truly love the one who loves you dear.


When did you become so foolish

That you would give your love to me?

All dreamers are fools.

And although I cannot say

Just who will protect your children


I know the wonderous gifts God gives to fools.


You are the wonderous gift God gave this fool.

-June 1998

 79. Dying Young

Gonna get me a great big truck

Load it up with everything I own

Blow my last five bucks on gas

And drive up to the high cliffs overlooking the sea

Me, and everything I own

Are gonna stop and contemplate the ocean

Reflect on our lives

As our lives surely pass us by.

Bet the boss’s wondering where I’m at,

And where his favorite chair has gone.

It’s a great place to park your lazy ass.

They’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.

Me, and everything I own

Brought along a few things

I stole from my neighbors’ homes.

It’s okay.

They’re all insured.

You see, I saw to that,

I was the one who sold it to them.

Before me, and everything I they owned

Headed for the hills.

Bet the boss’s wondering where I’m at,

And where this month’s payroll went.

It’s a great way to spend your later years,

Every material need met.

Two beachcombers found my truck

At the base of the cliff where the surf runs away.

The truck, and everything I owned.

The police suspect foul play.

And although my corpse was never found,

They figure it washed out to sea.

In the insurance game, tragedies like this have a name:

Double Indemnity.

Bet the boss’s wondering where I’m at,

And knowing him, he’s pretty stressed.

Me, I’m living a little like Paul Gauguin

On an Island where the women underdress.

The only difference is, I am very rich.

And I am extremely happy.

And who says you can’t take it with you?

Here’s to dying young

And everything I own.

-June 1996

 78. Family, With Apologies To The Rev. Al Green (for Doug Brush and Sue Krueger on their wedding day)

We’ve come to hear the march from Lohengrin

Only this time the organ’s been smoking a little Rev. Al Green

Then the choir of heaven cuts in

With ‘Let’s Stay Together’

And they make it sound just like a hymn

It’s sets the world spinning true

Me, I’m busy this afternoon

With my family

So put on your famous wedding blues

I promise you tonight you’ll hear nothing that’s new

The old stories may feel dumb

But they're the places you hail from

The borrowed puzzle you build all your life

It’s your shattered looking glass

You see you never really look back

You just pass your reflections along

To the family to whom you belong

Dare to tell the world you’ll never leave me.

Look down in your hands ask yourself “What do I really believe?”

Point your finger over here

I ‘m gonna dress it and tell you

Loving you forever is what I need.

Put on this great coat I made just for you

Walk with me won’t you

Let’s meet the family.  Ah come on

Let’s meet our family

-September 1995

 77. Ain't Life Grand

I sit on the ceiling

And watch myself sitting

In the back of an old classroom

Staring out the window at a crow

That laughs on a black branch

And now I’m that crow

Staring through the window at the backrow

At that kid, who has now grown older,

Who’s no longer distracted by black flashes of laughter.

The kids stares up at the ceiling

Right at me

And right now I am really confused

And all twisted up

Wound tight as a drunkard

With nowhere to sleep that’s dry from my own damn dreaming

I’ve strangled my heart so many times

My skin’s gone cold.

I’ve become little use to friends and relations

And less use to those who tell you they know you.

We all link arm in arm and stare out the window

At the black tree where I sit on a limb, singing

Ain't life grand?

It’s an odd bird that sits in your hands

And it sings an old song that’s profane and troubled and sweet

And as we careen towards peace

To fall through a window in a muslin sheet

Singing “My Ain't Life Grand” as the bird takes wing.

Has your foolish world run off with a lover,

The kind who is young immodest and cruel?

The kind who will stare deep in your eyes and tell you

‘Baby everything will be fine.’

And ‘You can have everything you ever wanted’

And ‘You do everything well’,

‘You look swell,’ ‘You’re always witty and charming,’

And ‘Everyone in this room is your friend.’

And as you float on up to the ceiling

To watch the world swirl in the confetti of some pornographic newsreel

Where everything is gray and nothing is real.

Give me back my black flash of laughter.

Give me the sense to fall ‘til I see where I’m standing.

And endure the cackle of crows

‘Til I know that they know that I know that

Ain't life grand?

It’s an odd bird that sits in your hands

And it sings an old song that’s profane and troubled and sweet

And as we careen towards peace

To fall through a window in a muslin sheet

Singing “My Ain't Life Grand” until our bird takes wing.

-June 1995

 76. Jesus Loves Me (I Know This)

Where you gonna run to

When there’s no run left in you?

Who you gonna turn to

When even your savior can’t find you the time?

I can’t seem to get out of bed

And I’m thinking a lot about shaving my head

And moving to the airport

Where I can annoy people with that Jesus-Freak-Speak

I’m in trouble

That’s one thing I’m sure of

That, and even paranoids have enemies from time to time

And I remember what my momma said:

'Son, you’ll be a loser 'til you’re dead.'

That, and 'If you can’t say anything nice, go bother your dad.’

Woe is me

Woe is my one true blue companion that always stays blue.

Folks say, ‘If life has got you down,

If you want to get your ass off of the ground,

Grab hold of your bootstraps.’


Who the fuck stole my bootstraps.

I think what I need is to move me to the country

Where people will even feed you whether you deserve it or not.

Or I’ll get a ten penny nail and a shoe

And kill me a catfish or two.

You gotta tend your own fire

If your gonna cook a squirrel.

Woe is me

Woe is my one real good excuse that never seem to get old.

But then Angels up above

Sent down a little of God’s love.

Seems he’s found me a new job.

Or was it I’m the new Job.

Still I know God must have made me for a reason

And it ain't nobody’s business if the reason is to be a fool.

So if it’s all the same to Him

I’m gonna do my best to grin

And find me someone like Jesus,

Who loves me

Because she has to.

-June 1995

 75. Off To Change The World  

Where the hell should I begin?

Somewhere between the fall of Rome and 'The Big Return of Jesus'

I guess a little history got between us.

I didn’t mean to change.

I mean I didn’t mean to turn mean.

It’s just that some things don’t shed any light ‘til they are soaked in kerosene.

And you will cough and you will sputter

And the smoke will blind your eyes,

But you’d be amazed what you can live with if you really try

So don’t hold me back

Just wish me the best of luck

And shake my hands and kiss me man.

I am off to change the world.

Does your life feel like a film that’s shot in the pouring rain?

Is every song that Stephen Foster wrote running through your brain?

Does your love shine like a diamond?

Are you digging on your pain?

Has that asshole that you work with started pulling on your chain?

And if not for every jewel in Christendom will you play their fool,

Then I’ve got a feeling buddy that the feelings mutual.

So don’t hold us down

We paid full price for our rides.

Just kiss Walt Disney for us

We are off to change the world.

And if what you want is heaven

Why do you settle for the moon?

I’ll get my longest ladder

Hell, I’ve got all afternoon

So don’t’ hold me down

Bid me a fond farewell

I guess is this is forever

I am off to change the world.

I will think of you when I am lonely

I am off to change the world.

-June 1993

 74. It’s A Wonderful Life With Apologies to Frank Capra (for Ezra Idlet on his 40th birthday)



As you look over the hill,

What do you see,

A 12 year old named George Bailey?

He stands

A megaphone in his hand and leads the parade.

Sleds down the hill on a garden spade.

And later that same scene, he saves his brother’s life.

Costs him his hearing in one ear.

The angels take an interest in men like him.

Somehow, they always hover near.

And so, Merry Christmas, you old savings and loan

And Happy Birthday to all those who do apply.


You say,

“Is just like any other day.

You got the wrong guy, pal.

Me, I ain’t over no hill.

It’s not my back that’s aching. It’s not my legs that tire.

You won’t catch me yawning before the sun is dawning.

I’ve got the energy of a twenty year old kid

And he won’t catch me with it, that’s for sure.

George Bailey and I stand, our suitcases in hand

A place for labels from all around the world.

And so, we listen for the traveler’s refrain

The train whistles, the planes motors, and anchor chains.”



Are you going to storm the hill,

Or is this just the clearest view of the top

You’ve had in years?

George Bailey stands,

His children in his hands.

Bert the cop plays on the accordian

And his wife pours out the wine to the strains of Auld Lange Synge.

His brother calls him the richest man in town.

Don’t you concede? I mean, the man’s got Donna Reed.

All you angels clap your wings.

And so, ring the bells, for an aging Birthday boy,

And best wishes from not much farther down the hill.

with love, R.K.

-August 1993

 73.  Girls Go For Arse’oles

Let me start by saying I'm a liar

Can't say how much of this is true

But if it makes things any better

I'll swear by the copper in my tattoo

And you will watch me steal your heart

Watch me drop it at my feet

Watch me brush away your tears

Watch me go skipping down the street

And you'll cry out you've been martyred

Hell, we've all had brighter days

You'll ask yourself, are we all like this.

Go on ask me, will I change my ways.

And don't bother me for reasons.

The reasons sleep behind your eyes

They set you head a-swimming

They wrestle Jove between your thighs

And there are those whose dreams ache

To fondle the blackest heart

They know their love with uncorrupt it

They make me laugh until I fart

And did I tell you that I love you?

I wouldn't wonder if it's true.

But if I can't be honest with myself, babe,

At least I still can lie to you.

And don't cry out you've been cheated

The vulture's circling today

And those who cry the loudest they've been taken

Always return to play.

Let me start by saying I'm a liar.

-June 1993

  72. Waltz (Terpsichore)

She throws back her head and she laughs

Her hair is as wild as an arsonist's dream

I wake and brush off the cinders,

She turns and whispers, 'Ain't life a scream.'

And I reach for the floor, and struggle with my shirt over the last cigarette

Ah, she never wastes time, I find it's already burning

I probably should have guessed what that meant.

Then she shrouds herself in a damp sheet

She stands in the moonlight, her eyes start to gleam,

She says 'Let's run up the iron escape,' and throws up the window

I follow the steam.

And we lie on a rooftop under an infinite ceiling littered with stars

This may not be freedom, but at this point in our century, pal

I'm not sure freedom's gotten us that far.

And then she starts in on a waltz

The kind you don't hear anymore

Where you grab your best girl

You lead her out of the door out on the veranda

Your head swims with fever,

There's a pain in your chest and the bright paper lanterns around you

Light softly her breasts

Then she pulls a bottle of wine from a smokestack

The way rain's conjured out of thin air

And I'm feeling more strung out than Jesus three days before Easter

She slices a pear.

And then unwinds her gown, and dozens of roses appear as if from nowhere

And I'm thinking out loud when Christ looks back on the garden,

Does he wonder, 'Should I have taken the dare?'

And the city spins round in a waltz

The kind you can't feel anymore

Your face is painted blue, you're hardly breathing at all

And the last thing you remember before it all goes gray

Are the bastards who kissed and betrayed you,

The lovers who missed you

And one or two times you got laid.

Ah she'll come and sweep off your hat.

She’ll howl in your alley.

She'll lead you back from hell

She wields the wind with the full force of tenderness,

And you pray to God she always will.

She gave you a gift,

A song that preys like a hawk on a wing.

It's a question of vision,

And when she lets loose her talons, boys,

That'll be the last time you sing

And in the distance there'll be that waltz

Of things you can't talk of these days

The loves best unspoken, loves that have been driven away

Loves spilt in a barroom

But I'll stand on that bar and raise a glass to the time that would frighten the sober,

If they'd only fucking well ask.

Ah, what we need here is a waltz

La di da da da....

-July 1993

 71.  In Regard Of Flight


I will dangle from this pipe.

Inspect the cables one more time.

It’s my life.

I’ll climb up.

Perch myself upon this tree.

Wave through the spotlights

My sequins gleam,

As a clown sings 'The Man On the Flying Trapeze'.

Hey, kid, the circus is in town.

Scare your parents, run away.

It’s your life.

Let go.

Tuck your head between your knees.

Throw your weight and spin ass over tit,

Then grab the pair ankles on the next trapeze

And I am lithe

In my short-lived man made flight,

Over the crowned heads of europe and the gaping mouths of children,

And if I fail

And fall twisted to the earth,

Give my regards to Orville and Wilbour Wright.

A boy sleeps on my trailor floor.

A townie from two towns ago.

His name is Wild.

He’s up at day break

Mending the costumes before I wake.

Then, he stands on one foot

as he shaves my face.

He talks tight ropes the balance of the day

When I was young, I walked the wire.

Worked with an umbrella and no net.

And I was a fool.

But there’s no telling him this.

I know there’s no stopping Wild,

The bound and determined future equilibrist.

All I can tell him is, 'Kid, you better know your tools damn well'.

There’s no trick

To living life defying death.

The trick comes in earning a living

Getting the crowd to hold its breath.

They hope you fail,

As you pretend to risk your life.

P. T. Barnum meet The Bros. Wright.

Do you dare

Imagine flying through the air?

Or, do you dangle by your teeth

Swinging in the breeze?

Are you waiting for an offer, or the next trapeze?

And I am lithe

In my short-lived man made flight,

Over the crowned heads of Europe and the gaping mouths of children.

One day I’ll fail

And fall twisted to the earth.

Give my regards to Orville and Wilbor Wright.

-June 1992 to June 1993

 70.  Little Richard’s World of Mirth

Throw open the gates.

Unleash the true scum of the earth.

Stroll onto the midway of Little Richard’s World of Mirth.

Just grease Richard’s palm, erect your faulty Ferris Wheel.

No one will check your license.

Can you hear the children squeal?

Knock down the bottles,

Win a cupie.

Show your dollie what you're worth.

Three balls for a dollar at Little Richard’s World of Mirth.

Have Pirandello guess your weight.

Swing that hammer for a lark. Bet your cotton candy, kid,

There’s six carnies searchin’ for a mark.

Rolley coaster,

Your head begins to swim.

The ride jockies are laughing in the dark.

Seems they kicked the shit out of a townie for a joke.

Guess that’s why they called this an amusement park.

Get your popcorn, switchblades, souvenirs,

See all your dollars worth.

Bring something home for baby from Little Richard’s World of Mirth.

See Ohio’s bald, two-headed calf.

Ride the Tilt-O-Whirl.

And for all you farmers,


Side-show wedding.

There’s free pizza and beer.

The generator’s staying on past ten.

The bride’s the flower of New Galallee.

The contortionist’s the groom.

The preacher’s on the sky-wheel.

Give him room.

It’s a rough untutored hand who attends this most unholy birth

So careless with the foreceps at Little Richard’s World of Mirth.

The possum belly sways with empty cans of kerosene,

There'll be but a soiled memory once the adjustors make the scene.

Pull down the canvas,

Get ‘em rolling

Throw the geeks back on the truck.

We’ll turn what’s left of Pennsylvania

Into Hell’s county fair with any luck.

We’’ll leave behind piss-yellow grass,

Entertainment, death, and worse.

Man, life ain’t no circus, It is carnival.

Ladies and Gentleman!

Boys and Girls!

Welcome to Little Richard’s World of Mirth!

-June-August 1993 music and lyric by Vernon Tonges and Rich Krueger

 69. Heaven

Two lovers are alone

In a room smaller than this

They gaze into each others eyes

And then they share a kiss

It’s Walt Disney And James Thurber

Lying in each other’s arms

Swapping spittle and new fables

No man lets his brother fall to harm

It’s their world and welcome to it

A Magic Kingdom on the bed

Jim and Walt start getting mousey

They’ve got Mick’s ears up on their heads

Then they get out the crayons

And draw cartoons on the spread

When you whistle while you’re working

You can forget that you are dead.

Up in Heaven whose to say

Things do not happen this a-way

Pablo Picasso said today

‘I’m gonna make Henri Matisse eat hay.

Then ride him to the town hall

Where I’ll have him prance and neigh.’

And Toulouse-Lautrec has grown to eight feet tall.

-February 1993

 68.  The Gospel According to Carl

I'm wearing a big bow tie

Time was I could sell you anything

Even the pyramids along the Nile

Just crack open the odometer and roll back the miles

Flash a smile

Rattle those keys

Watch the beater roll off the lot

Like a set of old bones

And if you don't get fifty miles before the brakes just fail

Well even Jesus had no guarantees

Guess I was blessed with an honest face

I took religion at an early age

I played this cripple with an offering plate

As Daddy saved souls from a soap box stage

When he passed he left me that gift

Christ, the man could sell you anything...I mean anything

But damn my soul to hell somehow I pissed it away

Behold a broken salesman's fall from grace

Can't you hear the bells?

There's a church at the end of the road

The congregation's redeeming

And from up here on the steeple

You can look down at all the people praying

 Praying take me back before I lost my faith

Take me back when I could look you in the eye

Shake your hand and lie straight to your face

Those were my glory days

No prick of a conscience to get in the way

Who'd ever guess it'd be over

And there weren't no accidents to shake my confidence

Since the news, I've hardly been sober

They had me clean out my desk

I swore they'd be begging me to come back

When the new guy leaned back in my old chair and said,

'Look pal, don't make us laugh'

I guess that he knew my wife

Who said the same thing the week before

Then slammed the door.

Oh and they're so sure that I got no where to go

You can tell 'em, it's me and my maker tonight

Can't you hear the bells ringing?

There's a church at the end of the road

The congregations is singing

And from up here the steeple, you feel a little bit closer to our Jesus.

And I'm still wearing that big bow tie

Along with every piece of clothes I own

And it says here it looks like rain

On page four of the newspaper parasol

Next the photo of a family who lost control of their vehicle

On their way home

Christ, the time was I could sell you anything

Jesus, lead me on home

Can't you hear the bells ringing?

There's a church at the end of the road

The congregations is screaming

As I let go of the steeple

Catch me Jesus. I'm falling.

-August 1992

 67. Amazing (For Scott and Wendy Hermes on their wedding day)

I find this amazing I do

To look out on all these honored guests

The last time I came here

I wore a look of panic and a flower on my chest

Let me show you the pictures

Of my brother laughing

And your father staring

As he walked you toward me

Your hands were trembling

And somehow

You're still here with me.

Well I guess it took

And it took about an hour

And the hour passed in a moment

And at this moment I'm being haunted by every detail

I swear by these ghosts

They've a flair for dramatics

You'll find you're down on a knee

Holding a hand

And thinking "Carpe Diem"

And then asking 'Won't you stay with me?

I'll love you forever won't you please stay with me?'


And the best of luck

Now that everything has changed

And if you two don't feel any different right now,

Hey that's okay.

You're never alone

And though you're probably stunned,

The one thing I can tell you is

This is the hardest thing you two have ever begun.


You'll find this amazing.

I'll love you forever.

Hope this stays with you forever too.

-November 1991

 66.  Nashville Patiently, or Tell Me A Story (for, or at, John Ims)

Your words are simple....minded,

And If I hear just one more, I'll feel my head go soft.

They're dressed up pretty, posing as beautiful.

Don't give me romance.

Give me Guernica.

Tell me a story.

Do not tell me how you feel.

I couldn't care less,

See, but that's just how I feel.

Tell me a story.

Do not open up your heart.

Those stupid metaphors will bleed you white as chalk.

Go on, lie to me,

Just not to yourself.

Spare me your honesty, I'd rather hear the truth.

Tear my shirt open,

And with it, all of your cliches.

It's not that they're so familiar.

It's that they are dead wrong.

Tell me a story.

Make it absolutely real.

Put nothing in between us

Grab my hands and pull me in.

Turn on your radio

Anywhere, anytime.

You'll hear nashville patiently

Pick shit out of its teeth,

Then lick its lips and grin in every storefront that its sold in.

Don't ever say love.

Make love to me.

Grab hold of my hair.

Pull my head down to your mouth.

Give me something.

Whisper one real idea.

You see, I'm not your friend.

I'm your lover until the end.

Tell me a story.

Make me remember you.

I'm hungry as hell,

And I'm losing patience, too.

Tell me a story

Can't you?

-July 1991

 65. Kerrville. O My. Kerrville, Or, Let's Be Honest (for the songwriter's school at the Kerrville Folk Festival)

There must be a thousand tents in this makeshift east Texas city.

Pitched among the wooded hills, the campfires light the night.

And around each one, jaundiced writers wear guitars

The way Christ would have born a cross, if he'd had a lot more pride.

And me, I'm just looking for some water and some shade

A half-baked cabellero

What brought me to this strange ranchero.

Let's be honest

I want to be famous

Extremely famous

Let my hair grow long

And stand naked in the sun

My chest will shine like a shield

I'll be a temple to myself

Every women's desire

Even more desired

Than I'm admired

And the men

Respect and fear me

Want my phone number

Want to get to know me

And become intimate as friends

And have a body just like mine

All glistening and wet

Like overripe fruit

Hey, look mom, I'm a vision

Wait, wait, wait,

Someone here actually thought of talking through this song

I shoot a piercing glance and he bursts into flames

And the audience cheers as they hang on my every word

Hey, I've got to come back here next year

Let's be honest

I look great

I feel great

So tall and fine

I tower over all the trees

This back to nature stuff can just really clear your head

And they're speaking in tongues

And they're shouting my name along with names of the greats

Like Bob Dylan And Woody Guthrie

And John Prine and Tom Waits

And Jacques Brel ...then there's a long list that follows

And Martin Luther

And Saint Augustine

And Ghengus Khan

And Moses

And Christ, I don't know where my tent is

And it looks like it's gonna rain

Why did I bring all this shit from the city

Just to have a flood wash it away

I'll probably sun stroke in the morning

After not having slept all night

But that guy who's playing

His song is amazing

Maybe it in't gonna pour

Maybe, just maybe,

This place is alright.

-May to June 1991

 64.  Another Hour

Grab hold of my shirt 'til this hour has passed us.

Bury your head in my chest 'til the fire has passed the sky.

I tell you it's thunder,

A noise that can't harm us

And when they throw open the doors

We'll crawl out into the light

When we open our eyes we will have survived this hour

The wailing is over the sirens exhausted

And the peace before someone screams is the only peace these days

Of the buildings left standing,

Most are on fire,

And the few that are left unscathed seemed dazed and out of place

Like the people in the street that have survived this hour

I was angry as hell when someone said they'd come at us

And when my building went up, I was frightened like a girl.

I saw an older man weeping

I thought he'd lost a child.

Then I saw him drop his pants to clean himself as best he could

They'll have our dignity before we'll survive this hour.

Light a candle

Find your water

Follow me as best you can

Stick close down here it's easy to get lost

There will always be wars, I understood that

I always hoped there would be something worth fighting and dying for.

But no more, not now,

I've nothing left in me

So grab hold of this empty sleeve

As we pull the earth over our heads

And drift between the quick and the dead

There go those sirens again

Come, it's time to survive this hour.

-February to June 1991

 63.  Everything Dies*

He's been digging these holes

For a couple of years

He'd be finished by now

But the man right behind him keeps filling'em in

It's a bold joint venture

And the work can't give out

They're always employed

And there's money to make

Just don't make too much noise

You can't imagine the stuff they'll inter with a guy

Opportunity knocks because

Everything dies

He's swinging a lantern

To the song in his head

He wants so to whistle

She'd be dying to hear it, that is, if she wasn't so dead

And his partner starts laughing

Cracks a joke to himself as he throws down his spade

And then runs through her box Then drops it back in her grave.

It's then they hear the crack of the main waterline

Some float on they're bellies but

Everything dies

Nobody panic, I mean there's no need for panic,

I mean the water isn't even over your chest.

Keep your wits about you. It's either think fast

Or be found stiff and cold as a graverobber's ass

So he turns to his partner,

Says this look like a tight spot

But like I learned in the navy,

Don't show up at a hanging if you can't tie a knot

And he freed up a coffin

Wrapped it up tight in a black tarpoline

And then headed to town

Because town was downstream.

You can tell Cap'n Ahab the fishing is fine

There is plenty of bait because

Everything dies

And now the mayor is touring the damage

All alone in a leaky row boat

With a rag to his face as a body floats near

He says, 'It's time to consider a change in career'

High atop city hall

Two silhouettes painted black 'gainst the sun

Stand with a coffin 

And a bag full of loot,

Wonderin' just how the hell to get down from this roof

When the water recedes

Which could take more than a month if the weather stays dry

And it's moments like these

Some start asking why.

But even a corpse turns cadaver given purpose in life

Don't be looking for morals because

Everything dies.

-August 1990

*Originally entitled All Eight Die. The phrase “everything dies” had been “all eight die”. This was a song written for the Cardiff Giant play All Eight Die

 62.  Ideal World*

Hey, you've got something to tell me.

A cartoon balloon hovers over your head.

There it goes out the window, bent on escape.

It's a fleeting idea.

Somehow, it's getting harder to communicate.

This is truly an ideal world

It's hard to be cynical, and I've really tried.

Take a deep breath, the water is fine.

Over your heads about a thousand conversations float by.

 Hey, I've got something to show you.

I found a magazine,

More than thirty years old.

Guess it fell behind the T.V.

And it hadn't been missed.

Seems that history lurks between the advertisments,

Just watch the screen.

But this is truly an ideal world.

I mean, there's plenty of oxygen and all the right tools,

Acheivable goals and nothing to fear,

And plenty of time for a lovesong between games of solitaire.

You'll find your memories face down, dealt out into piles.

Turn one over, you flinch,

Turn another, you'll smile.

And before too long you're left with a house of cards.

Don't slam the door,

You're home safe and sound.

Hey, there's so much to remember

That you forgot what it was,

But, hey, it hasn't been lost. It's there in your pocket

With a handful of change

And a broken balloon

And the promise of a boy who once bought you a flower

For this is truly an ideal world.

So perfect, in fact, you can't live long without it

And if you're disappointed, you can always say:

Even today will be a good old day some day.

-April 1990

*Co-written with Chris Farrell.  For the Cardiff Giant play, 'All Eight Die'.

  61.  Closed, Come Again (Sorry)


But I can't tell you where I've been walking,

Or how long I've been gone.

You seem to know me

Can you tell me, have I been gone long?

Yesterday is a thousand voices lurking behind a wall.

I can't make them out,

They're like the rustling of leaves,

And the wind is kicking up. The sun'll be down soon.

If I'm not being too familiar, could you help me find a room?

 And could you tell me,

My memory's slipped but something here is strange.

Walking through this town,

Everything around us points to something having changed:

The boarded-up windows, the broken glass beneath our feet

The few sticks of furniture left piled at the street,

The stripped-down cars, the abandoned homes,

And, except for the police, I think we're out here on our own.

Give me your hand.

We're  short  on  companions,

And I'm afraid that we just might

Be heading into a long, long night.

Won't you take my hand?

I may be mistaken, but you seem shaken, too.

What was the story

Behind a town deserted even by its ghosts?

And the people 'that lived 'round here,

Were they told lies, or simply what they asked to hear?

And, in the end, instructed that's just the way things go.

This place could be leveled and no one would ever know,

And fewer still would care. There's nothing here to miss.

Every soul has been forgotten,

Along with whatever part we played in this.

Give me your hand.

It doesn't matter why it happened.

There may be an explanation how

But there's nothing here to salvage now.

Won't you take my hand?

It's something to hold onto.

We only did what we had to.

 And I don't think we were seen.

From this doorway, there's a view of most of the park.

It's glorious the way the sun settles in the trees.

We'll move on later when its safer after dark.

Give me your hand.

I'm not trying to be funny.

I didn't mean to make you cry,

But I can't stop laughing and I don't know why.

Don't you understand.

I can't be made to answer.

I simply don't remember.


-December 1989 to April 1990

 60.  Young English Romantic Song

Some days these days,

Hard fought convictions seem as fickle as the weather.

And every time you think you've stumbled on a truth,

Usually it proves to be just medical opinion.

And she left you today.

What settles in your chest is just an urge to get away.

When overheard from headphone 'cross the aisle on your train

A young english romantic sings of politics and rain

And it’s pouring outside

Couldn't ask for better weather

You try to deny it but all you can do is remember

When she lay by your side

And you fought like cats and dogs

It hasn't rained like this in some time.

Pick up the phone.

Put it to your head, and you'll hear the sea.

A bit one-sided conversation with the ringing and the waves.

No need to dial now, you know just what she'd say,

If she's even home.

Set'em up again

'Gonna need at least one more drink tonight.

You are nearly overcome by thirst,

And by a strange desire

To leave through any portal feet first

And it's pouring outside

Thanks you'll sit here at the curb

You're better getting soaked than getting drunk, but you can learn

And she lay by your side and you lied just like a dog

Maybe it'll be different next time.

Get up.

Come on, have some self-respect,

Although your skin's shows through your pants leg a bit more than you expected.

And now your heart has turned out a bureaucrat,

So invested in the system, i

Its too frightened to listen

And it's  pouring outside.

It's still pouring outside.

And this story is old.

Come tomorrow, your train will take you home

To await the next party who'll appear to lend an ear

To your fears, hopes, and vanity,

Loneliness and frailty.

And it's pouring outside

Couldn't ask for better weather

She lay by your side now all you can do is forget her

And your torn up inside as it rains like cats and dogs

Maybe it'll be different next time Some day.

-March to April 1990

 59.  Kick In The Head

Some people got a peculiar bent on life, or is it the other way around?

Come out of the corn field, honey,

Pull on your dress, throw down the knife.

You seem a little nervous, like you got a tick,

Like maybe only half your cigarettes lit.

If you think people are talking about you,

Maybe it's not your head this time.

And I ain't lookin' to figure out what went wrong.

I'm looking for volunteers.

I've been thinking about you for so long, I'm nearly out of ideas.

Here we are, one flown over the nest,

And a wingless pigeon on the window ledge.

I don't know how I got here, but it's one hell of a view.

Some people wouldn't know trouble if it kicked 'em in the head

And stole their wife.

Good or bad, we've got more sense than them.

But somehow, trouble still finds its way under the fence.

Hey, look out!  Here it comes again.

I still see you wearing that tight blue dress, 

A hank of hair hanging in the breeze,

Leaning out of a Bonneville, shouting to the boys,

'Hey, fellas, get a load of these'

Little Miss Venus, built out a bricks,

You drove away slow and you blew me a kiss.

I laid awake that night, thinking about you,

Propagating my own myths.

Well, that old Bonneville, she ain't been running that well.

Let's say I've been having regrets,

Having to drive to a hospital where the doctors ply patients with cigarettes.

On family day, they show the folks a tour,

They show us the grounds, they show us the rooms,

When a patient showed us her breasts,

I naturally thought of you.

Some people wouldn't know trouble if it kicked 'em in the head

Or wonder why

They lost there way somewhere out on the line.

And if it weren't for your medication,

You'd probably break down and cry.

Hey, look, here it comes

Don't ever open up that door

'Til you're ready for what might be hurled.

Your new roommate in leather restraints

Just said 'It's a sad and crazy world'.

As we stroll together out on the lawn, among statues talking to themselves,

I hope you're getting better somehow.

I hope we're not just kidding ourselves.

But before I go, would it be wrong,

If you dance with me out of the lawn,

There's a man over there conducting pigeons with a newspaper baton.

Some people wouldn't know trouble if it kicked 'em in the head

And stole their wife.

Good or bad, we've got more sense than them.

But somehow, trouble still finds its way under the fence.

Hey, look out!  Here it comes again.

-October to December 1989

 58.  Por Que No Me Amas (Love Me)

Noah went off the pier last night.

He swam out a great distance as it started to rain,

When he came to regret filling his pockets with stones,

And thought about home,

Where his wife had just packed up the kids and made a bus for the train.

 He cried across open water,

‘I need a drink and a personal savior

To help me think over a flood like this.

To break me of all these maladaptive behaviors.

Man, I need a big favor.

Jesus, you ain't the last guy been betrayed by a kiss.'

‘Why don't you, why don't you love me.

Show me forgiveness. Do not tear me apart.

I'll make it up to you, swear I'll do everything right

After tonight,

If I'd known you'd do this, I would never have hit you that hard.’

Now his leg is having emotional problems.

He limped broken, half-frozen, out of the lake.

And was it that she could walk the way some men write poetry,


Or maybe, just maybe, it was how she swung open her gate.

Like an answered rhetorical question, he lumbered uselessly into the city.

In a coffee shop window, he straightened his tie.

When through his reflection, he swore he saw her there

Sitting, thinking,

At the counter drinking,

A better coffee a millionaire's money can't buy.

‘Why don't you, why don't you love me.

I swear I'll pound out this plate glass. Don't turn me away.

I've got nothing to lose here by making a scene,

I've become desperate from dreaming.’

But she couldn't hear him. A train whistle came between them that day.

These cigarettes are useless. They're thoroughly soaked.

If it keeps raining like this, I'll have to cut me a sail.

And after last night, when the cell block got flooded,

They handcuffed us two by two,

To anything that didn't move,

And somehow, I don't think she's gonna show up to help me make bail.

‘Why don't you, why don't you Love me.

Show me forgiveness. Do not tear me apart.

I'll make it up to you, swear I'll do everything right

After tonight,

If I'd known you'd do this, I would never have hit you that hard.

Por que no, por que no me amas?’

-December 1989

 57.  Miracle On 34th Street

And they lowered him down, An underdog hero,

The reporters swarmed around,

And when that circle of vultures closed in,

A grave surgeon shoveled close the earth's skin.

And it all started Thanksgiving. Cy was waiting for a train.

A desperate man walked toward him, he figured this one was after change,

When his eye caught a billboard, advertising holiday warmth,

Over which a ghost had written, 'Are You Informed'

Some things come together that way.

In such a violent contraction, anything is bound to happen.

You may feel your heart,

And know why you want to live.

Like you've been handed a miracle.

And you didn't believe in miracles.

Well, that did it. He'd been reborn.

Twenty-nine years in advertising, Cy'd never felt like this before.

The desperate one smiled and offered a hand, as if to ask 'Are you with us?'

Cy said, "I am, I am."

And then the subway's homeless fell into line.

Some carrying bedrolls, others discarded New York Times.

They ascended the stairs, into the morning air,

And converged twelve thousand on 34th and Herald Square.

Some things come together that way.

This morning in America, there's one hell of a parade.

You can feel your heart

With thousands singing "We want to live".

And believing in miracles.

And Macy's windows boasted nostalgia

And plastic santa clauses hung cold in the breeze.

He crossed his fingers. laughed at the pun,

And with his back to the sun, Cy floated over the trees.

Like a cartoon balloon.

And from his aerie perch, Cyrus preached,

'There is a moral order to the universe.'

And with his last breath, he blessed those on the ground,

As security moved in quickly, disguised as circus clowns,

To lower him down,

An underdog hero,

The reporters swarmed around,

And although Cy's story never broke coast to coast,

The next morning, the headline in The New York Post read:


You can defy the moral order, but then something's bound to give

You may feel your heart, which is a good place to start,

When you're looking for a miracle these days.

Some things come together that way.

-July to December 1989

 56. Just A Fascination

She's just a fascination,

Kind of hobby that's bound to leave you broke.

She's as warm as a bedroom fire,

Overwhelm you like mattress smoke.

Some opportunities arise but once in the life of man

Love can burn, even consume,

But it's not so bad if you can stand the fumes.

You can worry 'bout the damage, you can complain

Perhaps it cost too much,

But all it took was the slightest touch.

She took me across the sea to London.

Like a V-2, we hit the ground.

Cripples still talk alot about the red corona over St. James Park

And the lights we put out all over town.

It was a whirlwind tour, an adventure in the slipstream,

But the best part just had to be

When we sat taking tea with the Queen,

And she sure was nice to ask the band to play,

At the changing of the guard,

'Sweet Georgia Brown'.  Play it, Nigel...

(S .G.B. bridge)

When the crowd found me at low tide, smiling,

Washed up on the shore,

I knew why I would not be saved

From being broken as gracefully as a wave.

But those who helped restart my heart were unimpressed

With what little I could impart,

And so they left me one by one.

I tried to tell them what I had done,

But all I could recalled was a tune called

'Just A Fascination'.

-December 1989

 55.  The Cardiff Giant Theme Song (Sha Na Na)

Hey, I feel alright!

What do you know, it's Thursday night.

And, you know, I don't find anything wrong

With falling down laughing drunk at the Woodlawn.

I take some pride

In the way I waste my time,

And nothing makes me laugh louder than

The wacky remains of a fossilized man.


You could stay home and read the paper.

You could just write yourself a book.

But if you're feeling a little less ambitious tonight,

Hey, it's alright.

You'd have to be crazy to deny it.

You'd have to be lazy not to try it.

Don't be so self-defiant,

Try Cardiff Giant.

Sha na na...

What a bunch of goofy guys!

And a goofy girl, too.

They wear goofy Cardiff Giant hats.

They'll do a goofy Cardiff Giant show if you only ask them to.

Hey kids!  Put on your big shoes.

Grab a friend a walk on down the street,

To the place where your imagination

Is like a trampoline, send you 'cross the nation.


Don't stay home and read the paper.

Put off finishing your book.

'Cause I see by the smile on your face, you feel like laughing tonight,

Hey, it's alright.

You'd have to be crazy to deny it.

Let the humor make you pliant.

You can be reliant,

On Cardiff Giant.

Even Anita Bryant

Loves Cardiff Giant.

Oh, my oh me

I wanna see C. G.

Sha na na...

Do the Cardiff Giant dance.

One step forward,

Don't look back.

Hey, I feel alright.

-November 1989

 54.  The Uncertainty Principle (After Heisenberg)

The move was handled with care.

I taped up that last box, then threw it down the stairs.

Bound what physically remained down with rope

And drove away slowly, hoping against hope.

I turned on the radio and listened to the AM whine.

1200 kHz of ‘It’s hard to say goodbye’.

And the last great hopeless romantic

Steps to the blackboard and explains love with Quantum Mechanics.

There’s a problem of balance and grace

In a world spinning madly off into time and space

Stand still one moment and you’re bound to lose your place,

And everything that mattered will be out-of-date and scattered.

But as this is the last love song,

If you don’t mind, I’m gonna sing along.

It’s just a simple tune running through an idiot’s head,

Get a bit too serious and your face turns red,

But at least, for this one moment, there is nothing left to be said.

- March 1989

 53.  A Decent Place

Mary She said

It's hard to understand

Easier to walk away

Now the girl is on the lamb


Can heal all wounds

But time walks its own way

You better watch what you say and do

She said if she wanted an honest answer, she wouldn't have asked you.

Seal it with a kiss that's a start

Looking for a place where your heart can fall in two.

Seal it with a kiss that's a start

Looking for a place where your heart can fall in two.

Home Sweet Home

Your hat is hung on what you know.

Quiet as the sea, calm as a mouse,

Perhaps flower garden in back of the house.


It's a haunting, withered refrain:

‘Do you water if it looks like rain?’

It's your best guess.

Only heaven knows

Why she said if she had your brains, she'd plant roses.

No one's gonna tell you

What you're stepping through.

They're looking for a place for their hearts can fall in, too.

Sometimes love is a near miss,

Sometimes a head-on collision.

Other times it's self-abuse and moaning,

'Oh no, not another bad artistic decision!'

(Once more, with feeling...)


It's bound to get hairy

When you count on more than what you carry.

You might have a head for figures,

It's just your numbers were imaginary.


The time will come

You'll see you're chasing what you're running from.

Questions no one wants to hear.

Are we going nowhere?

Can we get there from here?

Don't turn your face from the part that's true,

When you're looking for a place for your heart to fall into.

After all, We are all

Just looking for a decent place for our hearts to fall.

- March 1989

 52.  Between You And Me 

You don’t go on the road to find something to keep.

We steal through the morning just like a thief.

And if we drive all night we might make up some lost time

The moon is bright.  We can’t get lost.

Fold up the map. Turn the headlights off.

Roll down the window, let’s get some air.

Don’t fall asleep.  We are almost there.

It’s been so long since we covered this much ground.

I never did always try to see both sides,

But when did I become so unkind?

I’m not complaining

This is what I’ve earned:

A very strong stomach and a lot of fucking nerve.

And things could be worse it’s true

When you’re driving at night and there ain’t much else to do

Except travel the distance between me and you.

I see by your old photos that you haven’t changed.

As for mine, they’re all faded and out of frame.

Yet serve sufficient reminder of one who’s been dead for years.

Times been fair to you I can tell.

Success suits those who wear it well.

But if I seem a little hard after all this time

It’s that our lives are most twisted than intertwined.

And there’s been more than water gone under that bridge.

There’s been blood and a little vitriol

And I ain’t the same for going over that fall

Aw, it be so easy, on a night like this,

To lie to each other,

To reminisce..

But nothings as patient as truth,

And this time there is nothing hidden from view.

This time there is nothing between me and you.

I once saw a woman running hysterically out in the street.

She screamed 'I’ve been deceived”

The car that hit her, it must have agreed.

 Well, it’s getting early there’s a light in the east

And maybe this morning we can spare one tear at least

Summon all of our strength and hold it up to the sun

Watch it shiver in the motors hum

It’ll throw a rainbow on the road we’ve run.

But just between us, the soft shoulder, and this broken white line,

We ain't talked like this is such a long, long time.

Still that ain't our city over the next hill,

Though we can pull over a while and rest

From the rough road from pride up to tenderness.

In the town there’s a chorus of bells

But they don’t toll for us. They toll for themselves,

And that’s why they ring true.

On a morning like this, they’re heard for a mile or two.

Let’s try to keep this between me and you.

-February 1989

 51.  Secret Admirer

As for me, we’ve got nothing more to say.

Put the cards on the table long ago.

I think it’s time for me to cut my losses and walk away.

You can chide me.

You can claim that I never put in the time.

You can shoot me in the back

Or make som universal sign

Because in case you hadn’t heard

I’ve got a secret admirer.

There she goes.

She’s my secret admirer.

We’ve never met.

Haven’t spoken.

We live in different centuries.

And we’ve about as much in common as

Tom Jones and Madame Bovary. But I doubt

There’s a problem we cannot surmount.

She’ll reclaim her birthright

And me, I’ll help her count it out.

We’ll trip lightly down Rue Dangereux

Lightly, me and my secret admirer.

Here we go…

She’ll flog a tired heart.

She threw out all the rules of arts.

The Louvre’s in a stir.

Venus De Milo can’t even touch her.

But that’s no surprise,

Look at the marble behind those eyes.

Venus’d fall down laughing at it all

If she could only break her fall.

 If you’re in trouble.  If you can’t speak French.

If there’s no convenient place to park.

If you’re afraid of failure, or your parents,

If everything seems imposing after dark.

Or if you’ve had a dream

Like Kekule or Dr. Martin Luther King

But you forgot to write it down,

Or else you simply don’t know what it means.

For dream interpretation, I defer

Always to my secret admirer

You can take it up with her.

She’s my secret admirer

Here we go…

- February 1989

 50.  I Don’t Mind

 At 4am bar-time American operas will drag

The piano player squeezes out on last bar rag

Then buttons his vest issued during a war

Tips his derby and strolls out the door

He don’t mind

Having to play in this heat

The Turkish bath morning turbans the side street

When just then two beacons pour out of the steam

To disquiet this American dream.

In a city night there’s ain’t nothing as clear as a bus

The drivers been drinking a brand you can trust

And a woman in back who’s played out her hand

Comforts herself with an accordion.

She sings, ‘I don’t mind

Living outside of the law.

They left me in stitches.

They wired my jaw.

So, between you and me,

I don’t see this as charity.

I’ve been owed it so long.’

Her face reads like a rotogravure

Black and white lovers hang like shadows from trees.

She sees her reflection

And then breaks down and weeps,

'I don’t mind…no I don’t mind'

And her bus rolls past the prison all night long

It’s wheels squeal like stuck pigs out in the street

Inside the prisoners laugh loudest when the wrong man is set free

This is a strange land

Step up and place your bets

On our children’s game of Russian roulette

Tattooed in red on the winner’s forehead Is ‘Made in America’

In a graveyard at daybreak

You are likely to be found alone

Our pianist hero places his derby on a tombstone

And as no priest this early would mutter a prayer

He leaves the hat behind.

It seems only fair.

He don’t mind

Making music that just doesn’t belong

He don’t mind being mistaken this long

And though its grown out of fashion to reap what you've sewn.

He’ll play piano until this bar is closed.

No really, he don’t mind.

-January 1989

 49.  The New Hat

Pardon me, Miss, Why all the fuss?

Did you leave your old hat on the bus?

I can buy you a new one that's twice the size.

Oh, I know how it can go,

You can form attachments to un beau chapeau,

'Specially when twenty bucks has been stashed inside.

 And if you only say you love me, I will buy you a diamond ring.

It doesn't matter how much it costs,

I got a friend who deals in this kind of thing.

Or if you prefer a floor-length fur,

I know a very rich guy whose wife's just died.

Won't you love me?  I think you're about her size.

 Stick with me and by this time tomorrow

You have the finest things that money can borrow

I'd be in debt for years if I can be yours.

You'll have champagne for breakfast everyday of your life,

And we'll hit a different restaurant every night.

That is provided we can sit near the door.

Well, you've probably surmised from this old hat of mine,

I can't afford no diamond ring.

But there is one thing I have discovered:

In this world, don't leave your head uncovered.

To be exact, what I'm getting at

Is I've still got a twenty tucked under my hat,

And I could buy you a new one that would be just the thing.

You may never, ever see that diamond ring,

But you'd be amazed at the changes a new hat could bring.

-November to December 1988

 48.  A Collective Memory*

From this view beneath the trestle,

It's clear no trains passed here in years.

But not so long ago, they bore returning soliders

With derailed values and morganatic souvenirs.

And when the war brides learned the language

Of their adoptive, cultural hell,

Of the teeming million hopeful stories

Wrung dry by politicians who've nothing left to sell.

Discovering America was more then they could take.

In this land gone drunk on easy virtue,

When the babies rock the cradle, what choices will they make?

Well, when you see my muddy bootstraps,

You will know just where I've been,

Out chasing a collective memory, Me and Huckleberry Finn.

All along the rivers, down to where the ocean rolls.

Together we'll raft out to the horizon,

And from that greater distance, watch it all explode.


Where there's fire, you will find us.

Where there's smoke you will be shown

Where the torches have been lighted together

And which way the wind has blown.

Some would simply cut our losses,

And some can only dwell on what we've found.

Some cry over all the misspent opportunities,

Others cry for silent thoughts that die without a sound.

Me, I can't grieve for growing tired.

Me, I can't cry much anymore.

I'd rather put my hands to the length of road before us,

And feel the river of aspiration running underground.

So, open up this shrouded house.

Peer across the fence in your backyard.

There, moving slowly like boxcars at the horizon,

There's a chain of naked faces, turning into stars.

(Repeat chorus)

-November and December 1988

*Words and music:  Chris Farrell and Rich Krueger

 47.  A Change In Clothes

So long, see you later boys.

I'm overwhelmed by distractions

I've been buried by the noise.

Gotta find room to breathe.

In this battle to stay one step ahead,

I found you get buried before you get dead,

And once you feel you are only half alive you have to go.

Sometimes the weather dictates a change in clothes.

I dangle from my wits, cleaned out of hope.

The president's on T.V. Sounds like he's selling soap

Or taking dope.

Lately it seems to me that we

Have pawned our head to buy a hat,

And when you hold it out, all you collect is rain and snow.

Sometimes the weather dictates a change in clothes.

Yeah baby, I like a cool summer breeze,

But this winter wind that's creeping in is gonna drop you to your knees.

To all the folks I love, don't take it rough.

To those who think they know me, maybe you have had enough.

To all the backstabbers I've known in my life, what can I tell you, thanks for the knife.

And to those who ask me questions for answers that they think they know,

Sometimes the weather dictates a change in clothes.

I've been thinking lately about what I'm gonna do,

But when I finally make up my mind, you know I ain't gonna tell you.

See, I don't want you to worry. Don't want you to fret.

Don't want you to say, ‘Baby, you ain't tried hard enough yet.’

Once I've been gone a long, long time, you'll think of me and realize,

You don't overcome the fear of death by committing suicide*.

If there's no shelter from the blow,

If you don't feel that safe below,

Sometimes the weather dictates a change in clothes.

-October to December 1988

*This line is from Scott Hermes

 46.  Zero And The Bandit Queen Of Department Stores*

Cold day--

Late December in early May

Have you ever felt lost when the rain begins,

Like forgotten laundry, strung out in the wind?

You can get a very bad attitude,

And thoroughly soaked to the skin.


His folks thought he'd never add up to more

His twig snapped while robbing a variety store

He took the money from the register,

But spread it out on the floor.

The clerk got very nervous, confused by the crime.

Zero stared out of the window, it was pouring outside,

All he caught was his reflection, nothing but nickels and dimes.

He felt a little short-changed, and the weather kept the time.

Zero cold-cocked the clerk,

And tore his jacket as he ran out the door.

One idea hit him pretty clear:

Need a cheap change a clothes, break in the back of a local Sears.

But once inside, he confirmed all of his worse fears.

'Cause there she stood,

The Bandit Queen of Department Stores,

Belle Starr with fluorescent lights in her hair.

She had a special flair for redressing the mannequins

Into careful, cold-war, American citizens.

She said, ‘Baby!

Baby, come on and step out of the cold.

Try and understand we offer a welcome hand,

And baby you know you ain't got anywhere else you can go.

Don't trust your eyes; this ain't nothin' they've seen.

You can pinch yourself, but this is hardly a dream.

Come into my arms, let me show you what I mean,’ said the Bandit Queen.

And they danced all night to the sound of Kenmore washing machines.

The sun came in overnight and arrived with the cold light of day.

Management found nothing missing at Sears.

Whoever broke in must have been frightened away.

But who put this naked mannequin here anyway?

They had it taken apart, and they put the parts away.

Tell me, have you ever had just one of those days?

-June to November 1988

*Lyrics: Rich Krueger Music:  Dave Kerr, Ron Lazzeretti, and Rich Krueger

 45.  Woman On The Number Six

Never thought I'd be taken for a ride,

Then I saw her stepping on the bus,

Like a song you can't help but whistle,

And soon you're singing the words:

You're in trouble again.

Driven by the shore of a Great Lake,

Against a city that hits you like a dream.

Could she have been married before?

Is he the man there, standing, blocking the door?

Are you in trouble again?

You're in trouble.

No one listens when you're talking to yourself.

The old lady's rooting through her shopping bags.

Best not to judge them;

Haven't used the latin for a while.

Still she reminds me of my youth.

Those magazines that I kept under the bed.

But I'm not one to take advantage.

I only want to learn your language.

You're in trouble again.

Your time to shine.

Breath on the windows, it's cold outside.

Take a finger and write your name.

Smile at how quickly the fame came.

Don't pretend that your world view is complete.

This world's refracted through some songwriter's eyes.

Remember two or three details.

Sort it out later on when you're drunk.

Some kind of day.

Early December. It’s pouring rain.

Maybe tomorrow I'll face regret.

Maybe tomorrow I'll take the train.

It's five to nine, and she's getting up to leave.

Once she's gone, I'll have gotten up the nerve.

But with a smile, she ends the lesson.

Keep it catchy and you don't have to rhyme.

Never thought I'd be taken for a ride,

Then I saw her stepping on the bus,

Like a song you can't help but whistle,

And soon you’re singing the words:

You're in trouble again.

-September 1988

 44.  Charlie Guitar for Charlie Koster

Swing souled, Charlie Guitar

Blue as nostalgia, versatile as coal tar

His head's out the window, like he's late for a train.

The King's down the station, pan-handling for a chord change.

And the President steps forwards. He begins to blow.

His first breath's impressions felt clean in the back-row.

And Charlie's dressed easy, like a rhythm well-worn,

And he'll play a song written long before you could have been born.

Tonight, the club's packed in three-deep, all these walls can take.

While all may be dreamers, some are more than awake.

And the club owners well rested, has no trouble with sleep.

He drifts off easy, counting the evening receipts.

But these cats will catch it once Charlie's begun.

He's more ways to skin 'em, but it only takes one.

Put your head to the track, feel the train on its way,

The Bandstand-To-Your-Heart Express, every Saturday.

And you'll be blown back when the train rolls on by.

This train is richer.  He'll paint you a picture.

From his underground rainbow, Charlie's intent

On mining colors that no German chemist could invent.

Beware imitators who might toss you a bone;

Only Charlie blows kisses hewn out of stone.

Some look to critics, others to gold;

Some look to flags 'cause they can't feel the wind blow.

But if you look to Charlie Guitar, be forewarned,

He'll play a song written long before you could have been born.

Catch a train to the stars. Swing solid forever.

Swing solid, my Charlie Guitar. Swing solid.

-June to August 1988

 43.  On Your Return

I mean to disturb you. You are sleeping on a broken bough.

There's no safety in your cradle. There is little point in crying now.

Your damp and tired eyes have mistaken pity for concern.

Are you awaiting something, or just something in return?

With the world neatly balanced on your tongue, you smile and declare your right,

While people you agree with tend to fight amongst themselves then join the fight.

The flag you wave is just a sail that's unsecured,

And as you drift in those circles, you will no doubt learn

That too little, diffusely invested, too far from home yields no return.

Some see distant sorrows, but at home avert their eyes;

While other stand and lend a hand, do you just sit and generalize?

Ignoring your own doorstep for the sake of choosing sides

Is not an act of conscience, but of misdirected pride.

You're being wasted.  For the sake of all concerned,

Hear that to shout across the ocean is, at best, to go unheard,

And, at worst, the tide will pull you under before your echo will return.

A bleeding heart is useless.  It ‘s just a weak old story.

When children sleep out in the street, who cares if you’re sorry?

The first step in this odyssey is that hard, first step away from here,

But until you cross it, the bridge is nothing but a pier.

Lay down your burden. It's time to take your turn.

There are other things to carry, you can pick yours up on your return.

No one will steal it; it will still be there on your return.

-May to June 1988

 42. An Economy Of Errors

It's a mistake

To beat on something just to find out how much more it can take.

It might be hard eating crow,

Of course, it's harder still when what you've got is dead horse.

Do we sit on our hands just to stand the rest?

The truest words are spoken only under your breath, I guess.

And not to change the subject, but does it take an amputee to manufacture artificial limbs?

I digress.

Who was the one

Who accused the other of just a little bit too much fun?

You hang your head down and cry.

You get so lonesome you could kill someone.

It's not a question of the company we keep,

But as to whether or not I think I'm beat, not yet.

I mean, what'd you expect,

That I'd run screaming, hysterical, and naked out in the street.

People might talk.

There we were, once upon a time,

Happy stealing nickels from the March of Dimes.

Now it's too much to expect, you'll be walking erect.

I guess some people look at living like it's a birth defect.

I don't need to be reborn.  I just want to stay awake.

Sorry, my mistake.

And if it please the court...

I don't know where we stand, to tell you the truth.

Are we an antique straw-man, a ghost ship of youth,

Or just a convenient escape, like a national park?

We can't see the city for the registered landmarks,

And the truth's always kept just beyond a reasonable doubt.

The answer's not in. The jury's still out

But it's still a mistake

To bend over backwards until you’re standing up straight.

You can give up, if you want to,

But if I throw up my hands, they might fall and hit you.

We've both been bruised; maybe a heart's been broken.

Maybe love's a one-armed bandit that pays out in subway tokens.

I don't know. Could be.

Could be the way out from under all of the problems we make.

For heaven sake,

Sometimes a mistake might be just a mistake.

-August 1987 to May 1988

 41. Jack

It was a parade to end all parades.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

From atop the city's tallest tree,

I watched the streamers, celebrity sailors,

And banners that read, "V-J Day".

In school and church, they taught what we were fighting for.

How these boys had not only won a war,

They had conquered all evil;

They had conquered the world.

And as victory rained on the rooftops, people came to expect a lot;

But when one hand holds out a promise, ask yourself where the other one's been.

Enter The American Dream.

With it's carnival teeth and hands like tambourines. 

They called for men down on the south east shore.

So, mistaking dumb for lucky,

I signed on as a stevedore.

I started at about a buck and a half.

And every great while, the man would march past,

Smile, pat me on the back.

I felt like a girl with a hand on her ass.

But they say you'll take what you can use

And it kept me in beer and union dues

And distracted by the ships, saloons,

And the dark women along the pier who would sing in your ear:

Do you know what love is?

Do you know what love is?

Let me show you how love is.

Boy, just come over here.

So what's thirty years, more or less

To tell yourself, ‘Hey, I'm doing my best’

And then, once your back is turned unloading one ship,

All the others just disappear.

And the responsible are pretty hard to find

Doing time on an assembly line,

Preaching safety in numbers like wisdom in nursery rhymes:

Like 'Jack be simple.  Jack behave.

Throw Jack a bone over an open grave'

Then watch him fetch and disappear like a ship's whistle's blowing smoke.

But listen.

It's like something caught in a songbird's throat.

Man, I think this weather has finally broke.

The ground's getting dryer.

The sun's breaking through the leaves.

It's Sunday morning.

Man, last night I really tied one on.

I should find a church lawn I can flop upon,

And when the congregation parades past, I will make my way.

See, I'm a man with simple needs.

Got a safe bench and a summer breeze,

A paper bag with all my possessions,

And my pants around my knees,

And I know what love is.

I know what love is.

I tell you what love is.

It's days like these.

-October 1987 to February 1988

 40.  Tell It To The Tambourines

So you're afraid that you've wasted your time?

Well, time's turned around and returned the favor.

You're probably innocent. Your memory's kind.

You've caringly side-stepped what you don't understand.

You were never much of a gambling man.

Now, they've all got solutions to settle your nerves.

Many imposing palliatives, more then you deserve.

But unnoticed, a man, with his hands to the ground,

Comes near you, and whispers,

'Hey, Mister,

Won't you follow me down?

Don't you hear the dawn breaking?

Do you think that the winter just anticipates spring?

Hey, your season's long past.

Take the sing-song-y sob story and put it to strings.

Take comfort that this must be just one of those things.'

It's hard to forget when the money was good.

It was easy to look like you'd something to say.

But, turned restless, the mob tore your temples apart

And revealed that the marbles were carved out of clay.

All the golden idols were just painted that way.

Don't try to rebuild, you've squandered the trust

On this midden of shattered plaster and rust.

The glory of Rome outshone all other towns,

But the zealots, who swore to defend it,

Only followed it down.

You've buggered the sirens.

Don't unblock your ears, just get out of the way.

Hey, it's only lip service

To talk about honor and turn about's fair play

To a solider who's dying on Memorial Day.

Is there still a war of attrition to win?

Really, I'm listening. Where do we begin,

When writing songs is like pissing in the ocean

At high tide, in a rain storm, with your back to the wind.

You're left empty, satisfied, cold, and thin-skinned.

The sky's overcast.  There's a new moon tonight.

In this vacuous evening, there is nothing in sight,

When a madman from nowhere, without making a sound,

Enters and delivers the curtain speech:

Won't you follow me down?

The question's so simple.

Only the answers seem labyrinthine.

Hey, you won't see this again,

But you will hear this over and over:

Won't you follow me down?

Won't you follow me down?

Won't you follow me down?

-January 1988

 39.  Waltz With Me, Jenny

For Patricia Irving, March 7 1962 – August 31, 1982

Waltz with me, Jenny. Step out in a kinder light.

There's a man here who's waiting, and a three-quarter moon out tonight,

And all the stars keep shining the same.  Like most, I doubt I could call one by name,

But, for the things you remember, there's more you can't begin to explain.

The band is on its last number. There are no more songs that it knows.

Won't you waltz with me, Jenny?  Walking is painful and slow.

Dance me down the dockside, it's time that you led.

But if you expect the river lights to guide you, instead

They will tell you a story, tell you where you can bury your head.

Out on the river, the boatman makes only one stop

He doesn't ask why, knows the question's why not.

And all the mad sailors keep singing below,

An old song, familiar, sad and sweet, the only one that they know.

You'll see me leaning in doorways you've opened, beneath lights that are broken.

I'm buried in the river banks and in questions you've spoken to me.

And I've two things to ask before you leave.

Have them turn the bed so I can see,

And if you must pray, just stay off your knees.

We need to be standing now.

Jenny, won't you waltz with me, please?

Jenny, oh Jenny, won't you waltz with me, please?

-December 1987

 38. Everything That's Ever Happened During My Entire Life

This is my story.  Some of it's true.

I won't tell everyone, but I'll tell you.

I am from a foreign country,

Born: Brooklyn, New York City.

I am from a great big city.

Just to set the mise-en-scène,

Mom and Dad were in the merchant marine.

Things were different in Navy days.

I was born while Momma was away.

It was a medical miracle.

I looked like something the wind tore loose.

Even the doctors were a bit confused.

They weren't sure if I was foe or friend,

So just to be safe, they slapped both ends.

So I jumped out the window, ran down the road.

Short on money, short on clothes.

A circus wagon happened my way.

I said, 'Give me a present. It's my birthday.

They said, 'Sure, why not, okay.'

I looked around when they pulled me in.

There were professional horses and amateur men,

And a big, fat woman with sequinned hair.

She was the trainer of a dancing bear,

The Right Reverend Fred Astaire.

We must have been to a thousand towns.

I fed the animals and watered the clowns,

And did an act they'll never forget

With six high wires and a wooden net.

It was pretty scary stuff,

For the first day.  This is a long song

After a while, we parted ways,

And I went looking for a place to stay.

I met three men upon my search.

They said, 'Come with us and join our church.'

I said, 'Sure, why not, okay.'

We went somewhere and I found a pew.

The place looked like a hospital, smelled like a zoo.

Then I noticed the organist's hair

And I knew who was the Reverend there.

I was way ahead of 'em.

Well, that bear was dancing on roller skates.

The congregation passed the offering plate,

And the choir sang, 'Lift your heart. Rejoice.

Dig down deep. It's ladies choice'

And they all started skating backwards,


Made me uncomfortable.

So I grabbed the offering and hit the door,

Saying, 'God help those who should know more.'

And, 'Nihilism ain't what it used to be.

It's now secular misanthrope. Whoopee!'

And I skated off into the sunset.

It was beautiful.

I guess what I'm trying to say is

'Don't let the facts stand in your way',

And that my life's a lot like this song.

I made it up as I went along.

Except for the part about Brooklyn, New York City.

I was born in a great, big city.

-October and November 1987

 37.  The Ballad Of Davy And Al



Davy was a shipwreck from the fourteenth ward.

He's not much,  but how much can a sailor afford?

A joy down at the seminary, got his own key to the backdoor.

But he ain't waitin' on no kingdom come,

He's earning a stipend from the Lion's Club.

He's drinkin' up the pennies and livin' on the bubble gum.

Life seems like a series of bad first impressions,

But then the road to heaven is paved with bad intentions.


Alan dresses sharper than a serpent's tooth.

He's got a three part heart, he's waterproof,

That son-of-a-bitch is meaner than a crocodile, too.

The man would spit on his mother.

He works above an alley where anything goes.

Feels a little safer with the windows painted closed.

If fresh air'd kill you, he'd probably live forever, who knows.

Armed to the tits. Why take risks?

You can never have too many good places to hide.

In these days, it's just great to be alive.


Davy goes the distance, he's out of the lights of the town.

He's stayin' down where the carnival burned to the ground

He's sleepin' in a hole where the calliope used to be.

It made a bone crushing sound.

Then, like a dentist wielding an air-raid drill,

Alan slips the clutch and shifts to overkill

And backhoes Davy from a mole into a molehill.

Don't talk with your fingers when your hands are held tight.

And there's only one place where Al won't be seen tonight.

You got that right.

If a reason's convenient, it's a reason that fits.

The police radio only plays the hits,

As blueboys siren passed a church where the choir is swingin' low.

And they sing:'If daylight was revealing, why's it where a disguise?

If night could see, it'd have icteric eyes,

And if patience was a virtue, the dead would be canonized.

Turn over a nightmare, you'll find several dreams.

And sometimes a madman will whistle more than he'll scream,

Or so it would seem.'

-September 1987

 36. Jimmy Kidder

We are adult.

We accept whatever Newton had to say.

Push on something and it will pull away.

But back in time, before gravity had its hold on me,

Jimmy Kidder was a friend of mine.

We saw the world as medieval knights would who were heading off to war.

We donned each other as armor, chinks and all;

But beneath our colors And pale chivalry,

Jimmy shone.  He was beautiful to see.

Too many too easily say,

They can tell the men from the boys at play.

Why then can't they so simply see

Why I thought there was something wrong with me.

Well, if I've learned one thing, I've learned this:

Physical laws need no apologists.

Still, it confuses the romantically inclined

That it's the moon that somehow tows the tide.

But I am sure as long as my strength remains

Jimmy Kidder was a friend those days.

-July 1987

 35.  Dirty Little Town

The morning’s got you by the short hairs

Rise and shine in this dirty little town

This is your five am obscene wake-up call

From your neighbor’s useless dog

And the men who haul the trash

Are loud enough to shatter glass

And the sun streaming through the window could scorch a cat

Better smear on your make-up

You gotta turn heads in this dirty little town

Only a fool would wanna look his worse

On what could be his last day on this earth

Comb your hair in the rear view mirror

Wet your lips and try and look sincere

As the traffic crawls as if every car is dying of thirst

Pop stars with their filthy habits drone their dreary songs

To bore you flaccid all your way to work

And the all-talk fm stations with their aural masturbation

From some drive-time blathering 24 carat jerk

Are we having a bad day?

Give us a kiss

It’s a dirty little town

Put your hand in the hand of the man

Who shook the devil’s cloven paw

Watch your self-worth turn to smoke

And you work because your broke

And you find your laughing at your boss’ dirty joke

It’s a dirty little town

Fresh air Sunshine

There’s not a cloud up in the sky

Above our bright blue uncorrupted earth

And your friends all bring you flowers

Stand beside you for the hour

Until your lid rattles from the clods of falling dirt.

Better screw up some courage, boy.

Take my advice

It’s a dirty little town.

Does life seems that miserable prick who tends to snigger in your ear?

Is happiness a filthy rumor told with a gallows sense of humor

Is everyone an asshole that’s grinning ear to ear?

It’s a dirty little town

-June 1987

 34.  Six Strings Of Heaven, or Daddy’s Guitar

I was only nine years old. It was 1969.

Do you remember how it feels

When the whole world's starts at the back of your heels?

My Daddy came home one night.

He had something in the car.

He brought a box inside and he opened up the seals;

It was a small, brown Gibson guitar

And it was beautiful.

He swore he'd learn to play that thing.

He swore for about a week.

Then 'Go Tell Aunt Rhodie' even got to him.

He put it back in the box it came in.

And told me not to touch it, but I figured it couldn't do much harm

To simply ignore what he said to me.

Next thing I knew I was seeing stars.

I was playing my Daddy's guitar,

Six strings of heaven.

I'd strap it on my back and I would become Johnny Cash.

And it always hit the pavement with a special kind of crash.

Fifteen years ago, I first learned to make it ring.

Give me fifteen more, and I just might learn to play this thing.

I stand up now and play, I can hear the stadium roar.

You say you don't hear it;

Well, it's probably just where you sit.

But, then again, you never know,

I never thought I'd get this far.

Don't step on someone's fantasy.

It might be sitting where you are.

Me, I'm on my feet, playing my Daddy's guitar.

Listen, I'm dancing.

-May to June 1987

 33.  Picnic With The Pope, Or Things Happen In New Mexico*

It's pretty strange as strange things go.

It's a picnic with the Pope, down in New Mexico

By the Rio Puerco, where the water flows like wine.

Oh, what a time. don't need much stuff once you've got the call.

I brought the grill, he brought the Blessèd Bocce balls

And a pair of dark glasses. I never asked him what he wore those for.

Take off your miter, kick off your red shoes.

Kneel on your hassock, get the Sunday news.

Breakin' bread with the Papacy

While Chicano angels sing in twelve part harmony.

They  sing, Sha la la Sha la lie lie lie

Sha la la Sha la low low low Sha la la,

Me and the Pope down in New Mexico.

We were made truly thankful for the food we served,

Then we ate these wafers, frankincense and myrrh,

'Though we weren't sure just what the last two were.

And when we wanted nothing more to eat

We went down to the river, try to beat the heat

And I learned while one hand may wash the other,

It takes both hands to wash the feet.

Well, I was transfigured by the Pontiff's barbeque.

It gets so you expect, I don't know, 'Holy See, Holy do'.

But, still, it came as quite a shock

When he quoted Walt Whitman in Latin and started pulling off his frock.

He's singin', Sha la la Sha la lie lie lie

He's dancin'

Sha la la Sha la low low low Sha la la,

Me and the naked Pope down in New Mexico.

Oh, well, what the hell?

Take off your miter, kick off your red shoes.

Kneel on your hassock, get the Sunday news.

Breakin' bread with the Papacy

While Chicano angels sing in twelve part harmony.

They  sing, Sha la la Sha la lie lie lie

Sha la la Sha la low low low Sha la la,

Things happen down in New Mexico.

Things happen down in New Mexico.

-May 1987

*By Richard Krueger and Scott Hermes

 32.  The One You Love

I don't tell fortunes.  My days reading tea leaves are through.

But I don't have to gaze at your palms

To know what you want me to do.

How we got here we'll never know.

The future is a prison and you back in slow,

And when the bars come down over the windows

You're caught by all you thought you needed to do.

Do you believe this is something a free man would choose?

You've held me 'til your knuckles were white,

And you wonder how your fingers got bruised.

I've hardened my touch. I've pulled out the crutch.

Excuse me if I fall too much,

But I've stood trial already convicted

Of taking everything we had to lose.

Don't bother dusting for fingerprints.

You don't need to find even one.

You can ignore the latencies,

I'm standing here holding a smoking gun.

The vows we'd sewn wait by the telephone.

Is it the governor's call or the midnight walk alone?

You were the last one I thought of

When I killed the one you love.

They say that the last Ice Age went on too long.

We could watch the next glaciers pass

Before either of us admits we're wrong.

If I could just remember what you saw in me.

If I knew what the future used to be,

But you just stay hurt and angry

And all I do is write these songs.

So don't bother dusting for fingerprints.

You don't need to find even one.

You can ignore the latencies.

I'm standing here holding a smoking gun.

They pack the court to come and see

The talking corpse that once was me.

He was the last one I thought of

When I killed the one you love.

We were the last one I thought of

When I killed the one you love.

-May 1987

 31.  It's Just A Little Funny

You know there's a trick to gettin' through days like these.

It's not to worry 'bout the guys that stare down at you from the trees

Don't want to seem paranoid or nothin'.

It's not that I'm sayin' that nothin's gone wrong

In twenty-eight years...has it been that long?

When I get to thirty, sell, and throw a party on the proceeds

It's just a little funny.

I should be laughing all the time.

It's just a little funny.

I'm rollin' on the floor;

I don't wanna get up to meet some bottom line.

Look out the window.  Man, it's a beautiful day.

I don't care if it's cold, pitch dark, and starting to rain.

To me that's okay.

Don't shake your head. Stop wonderin' why.

I'm either insane or a real fun guy.

I'm not sure I know the difference anyway.

I'm just a little funny.

But, hey, I'm havin' a ball.

So I'm just a little funny.

My bricks aren't glued too tight,

But who wants to use their head for a wall.

I'm just a little funny.

Don't worry what tomorrow might bring.

I'm just a little funny.

You know, you're funny, too,

Course, it's not like looks is everything.

I tried to sit down and write you a letter today,

But I just couldn't think up nothin' to say,

So I wrote you this poem:

'Of all my words, none rang more true

Than my cup runneth over, all over your shoe.

It could have been worse, I could have ruined your new suit, too.

And you sure would have looked funny that way.'

-April 1987

 30.  There's Something Out There

Don't just sit there dreaming up something to say.

At times, this whole century smells like just one of those days.

I'm back on my heels, I was sure the last one wouldn't get away.

Guess you can't solve everything with some clever turn of phrase,

Especially one you've twisted into a maze.

But there's something out there looking out for us

Don't think that's too peculiar.

Probably an angel with a face you'd trust

And a marvelous sense of humor.

What's all this worry?  What's all this for?

You'd better relax, best leave your hat by the door.

Just put your faith in things that don't exist

And you can't be disillusioned no more.

I'm a comic pedestrian whose timings all shot

Well, there's no sense in walking when your waiting on the next shoe to drop.

Do you smell that?  I don't think that's magic in the air,

But, hey, whatever train you take as long as you get there

As long as you brought the fare.

Because I know there's something out there looking out for us

Don't think that's too peculiar.

Probably an angel with a face you'd trust

And a marvelous sense of humor.

What's all this worry?  What's all this for?

You'd better relax, best leave your hat by the door.

Just put your faith in things that don't exist

And you can't be disillusioned no more.

Never could fix on just one thing...always lost on two or three.

You enjoy those throes of ecstasy,

But whatever you do, don't get any on me.

I'll take a penny for my thoughts, but for a nickel I'll lie to you,

And for a dollar I'll sit still until they come to take me, too.

See, people are like horses sniffing at pots of glue.

We all end up stuck the same no matter how we do,

In brand new suits and cardboard shoes.

But there must be something out there looking out for us.

Don't think.  That's too peculiar.

It's probably an angel with a face you'd trust

And a marvelous sense of humor.

What's all this worry?  What's all this for?

You'd better relax, best leave your hat by the door.

Just put your faith in things that don't exist

And you can't be disillusioned no more.

What for? I ain't no fool. I've been to school.

Learned to use the english language as a tool.

Digs holes.

Opens cans.

-April 1987

 29.  One, Two, Three

You’ve taken people and strung them like painted beads

Made a part abacus, part rosary.

And then, when you've crossed them you rebound again

On love's random walk.  The emotion is Brownian.

These people you’ve stranded all seem so well-rubbed and refined,

Proper and politic. They make you sick.

I don't like the feeling that I'm standing in line

For a two-bit beating in three-quarters time.

Look, if it were just up to me,

If you were only weak in the knees.

If I were you, if being you were free,

I'd find one who's stopped looking.

It's easy as one, two, three.

Easy as one, two, three.

At least, in some small part, we all love a carousel.

But one more go 'round, my lady, and I swear I'll yell.

Some like flashing lights, or the way people keep passing,

And some only come on to grab at your brass ring,

But most of us are just the horses.

We keep going up and down.

Grateful enough for the ride,

And lucky to find work in town.

You pray for what you need, and I promise to pray for the same,

As long as you promise to pray for rain.

It should settle the sawdust I kick up from the ground

As I quit this sideshow that you waltz around.

Look, maybe if this were free.

If there were one new thing to see.

If this only mattered to me,

But I'm hard and indifferent

And you’re easy as one, two, three.

Easy as one, two, three.

-April 1987

 28.  Tom Johnson

Tom knew all the stories in town, as it was very small,

And gossip could take on the authority of truth

Fast as milk turns on a hot afternoon,

But there was much information

In his town's ruminations.

Whatever was going 'round,

He knew all the stories in town.

Tom worked as the doctor in town. 

Had been for fifty years.

And to the folks he'd helped their folks raise,

He was part of the life cycle, a guide through the maze.

And if you visited every fall,

I guess you'd think things stayed pretty much the same.

But you'd be wrong

And I doubt Tom would remember your name.

Mornin' Mrs. Carlson. Evenin' Mr. Blue, What's new?

Looks like better weather up ahead;

Might not be what you think, but somehow

Tomorrow's mostly up to you.

How can you pretend to know a man

As if he were a text you held in your hand?

It'd be like trying to understand the fall

By counting the leaves that fall from the trees.

Tom liked to sit on a bench at the park.

The park sat in the center of town.

There, he reread the books of his youth,

Kept time by the shadows that were cast on the ground,

And watched children playing in these afternoons,

Sailing new kites 'til their shadows got long,

Then walked home wondering, 'Could I ever have been that strong?'

Morning's gotten colder. Evening's colder, too.

Reason takes you just so far.

You probably think too much,

But, hey, that's up to you.

You probably know all the stories in town.

-April 1987

 27.  Let Us Go Then, You And I*

She takes a walk down by the water.

She slips her hand into the pool.

In this unsettled reflection of someone's daughter

You could touch what that look confides,

But the ripples won't be felt on the other side.

You hear something break across the sound,

As she steps into the water and quickly drowns.

Great ideas always kill the best,

But it takes far less to kill the rest.

So, come wipe off your mouth.

Stop fishing for a long farewell.

It's like shooting tears in a barrel.

You look packed and ready to head down south.

The good you intended's left unbegun.

Must be this road to hell is the safest one.

So many people have come our way,

Some we should have murdered, others passed away,

But most left us alone, or we left them behind.

No wonder a good man is hard to define.

You find nothing more inviting than the smell of a passionate cause.

I can be out of your clothes in under a moment,

And escape with tremendous applause.

Yet, it's always so peaceful here.

The water is smooth as glass.

And you can hardly hear a thing

Over the balalikas in the back.

The old men dance in their long, dark coats.

Candles burn slowly, keeping time.

Women beat at their breasts and their children cry.

You see this dimly from another room;

The music so foreign, you can't make out the tune.

And you can't tell what's now from what used to be.

And when you wake, both will have become a memory.

-March 1987

*Music - Larry Neubauer/Music and Lyric - Rich Krueger

 26.  The Herald Of Free Enterprise

We set sail tonight on the best of Her Majesty's line

To win, for the Crown, information and barrels of wine.

But that isn't all that the Captain and I hope to find.

Strong backs and weak minds to serve as we feel,

And a market at home for all that we'll steal.

Who would have thought that this last year would have turned out so well?

I'd be rich alone on what we can legally sell.

And the Captain's content just to drink himself down into hell.

And the markets at home just get bigger and bigger;

Every person needs bread, every country, a nigger.

Pirates and colonists set sail as the seas start to rise.

Dark and forbidding, they're so unforgiving,

And we are adrift on the Herald of Free Enterprise.

The third world is begging for bread, as our governments whine,

Western markets are free, and the way that they work is benign'.

And the rule is so simple, to get yours before you get mine

Climbing alone to the top, we lose sight of each other,

Then sink into pits, trading blood for our butter.

-December 1986 to March 1987

 25. A Plea For Misunderstanding In An Uncomplicated World...Or,  Lawrence Welk And WW III

Cover your head, you've been out in the sun too long.

You were born light headed, but I can't believe the hats you put on.

You'll climb in any box. It's a pretty tight squeeze.

You don't know why you do it; it was something you'd seen.

It might break the ice, but ice turns to steam;

No, wait, it's Lawrence Welk and his Bubble Machine.

Man, there's nothing worse than an accordion player gone wrong.

 Count up your money, and then you get back to me,

But hang on tight to that story you tell;

That and thirty cents might get you on the 'El'

To the Aragon ballroom, 1943.

Lawrence is beating out a polka on 'Nearer My God To Thee'.

The newly drafted are itchin' to get hurt.

They're enlisting anything that's wearing a skirt.

One thinks of his girl, and the letters he's saved.

She back in the home of the Boston Braves

In the land where the radio is free.

There were times when I felt I was being led.

It's bad enough with musicians at large,

But, fuck, somebody left a critic in charge.

There's always someone who tells you settle down instead.

There's always someone who is ready to put you to bed.

Yeah, they'll pull their sheets over your eyes,

Then treat you just like one of the guys.

It's like waiting around for World War Three

With an accordian blaring on the T.V.

Lawrence Welk's not dead.  Man, you'd better cover your head

Because you've been out in the sun too long.

-March 1987

 24.  The Great War

He was working this waitress. He looked like he was on relief.

She was simply to the point, even her dress was brief.

She said somethin' 'bout Graham Greene and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk.

He lied, said he drove a cab, and, on the weekends, tended bar.

She asked if he needed a fare.  He said, no, she was almost there.

He knew she felt about as useful as a winter's leaf.

Caught on the spur of the moment, she spent an hour of weakness, at least.

And so began the days of our beauty and her beautiful beast.

They coined expressions that were funny and a little obscene,

But mostly sad and stupid.  He was amazed at what she hadn't seen.

He pulled out what was left in his pants, and dropped it in a pinball machine.

It was his last quarter and that's when the phone calls ceased.

He cracked a joke over her head,

And she went out like a light in kind.

She was lost when there was nothing said

About "The Power And The Glory" and the paper that Trotsky signed.

Back behind the counter, she was putting her apron on,

Just looking at the paper and thinking about what must have gone wrong.

Soldiers in Mexico were making the news,

But that only told her what she already knew;

You best be sure what you're hanging on,

And the great war went on too long.

Oh,  come on, come on, come on, hang on.

Sloopy lived in a very poor part of town.

-February 1987

 23.  She's Crazy On You (for Dwain Story)

Slow down Sheila,

I'm at half-mast; you talk too fast.

I don't want to keep you

But I've got a terrible feeling, and I hope it lasts.

Fifty-two jokers, and a deck of violins

Play you a symphony of sympathy, and you wonder why I didn't come in.

You'll do a good deal better, if you understand why you want to relive your past.

Stay still, Sheila.

My cement's not set, you're still all wet.

You're ready to build here, but the ground's not even broken yet.

You know, the thing that worries me

Is that homes now come from factories,

But what's still put in them isn't something you can so readily pretest.

You keep acting injured, and I try acting kind.

But the only thing of which I'm assured

Is that one of us is clearly out of your mind.

So long, Sheila.

I'm on your list.  I won't be missed.

You look like this surprised you,

But you always said it would end like this.

The fine battle lines remain the same 

Between folksingers and the criminally insane.

Best not to let a kiss betray that those kid gloves cover a fist.

So, so long, Sheila

-February 1987

 22.  The Emergency-Made-Simple

Strange spring indeed, philosophers are hanging from the trees,

Looking for nests to rob, and feeding off the young, tender leaves.

Any miscalculation bears the full weight of gravity,

As Newton drops from his branch, and is swept away by the breeze.

Don't you believe it, folks.

Don't you believe what's written in a dead-man's prose?

How can you stand there wearing a dead-man's clothes?

Where do you find for reasons to keep sitting still,

In your moment of weakness, or in the photos of Emmett Till?

It's crept up behind, it's stepping off the T.V.

It's the emergency-made-simple, an American comedy.

And as the laughter runs off the boat, we drown watching the leadership

That's been treading water since before 1970.

You stand in line waiting for someone to take your hand.

You're not gonna get very far.

Real things don't change simply by walking across the land.

Armies don't just bear guitars.

Change is risk, and risk involves pain.

Don't you remember anything?

Those are burn marks on that tree.

Don't you remember why we used to sing?

You'd better look down and be absolutely sure where you stand

You wouldn't want to slip.

Ideas are important, but not everything you'll have to grip.

For when the pendulum swings back,

It won't be edgy, and it will not seize.

You want answers, just look in your hands.

There are only leaves blowin' in the breeze,

And when the times do change, no poet will help you understand.

Strange spring, indeed.

-January 1987

 21.  Vague Existential Yearnings*

Looks like we're goin' 'round, 'round, 'round,

Oh, I don't know what they've found.

It's like we're goin' down, down, down,

Lookin' up at the bottom of the sea.

I know we're goin' 'round, 'round,

But I don't know where we are, or what we're likely to be.

It was a story that she fed him to the best of her invention.

He wanted her respect, but what he got was her attention.

And this women's far more clever than a Mona Lisa's smile

She's got a saying about true love:

'Some take awhile, and some take guile.'

Goin' 'round, 'round, 'round,

Oh, I don't know what they've found.

It's like we're goin' down, down, down,

Lookin' up at the bottom of the sea.

I know we're goin' 'round, 'round,

But I don't know where we are, or what we're likely to be.

Some call it a bad habit.  Others call it a disease.

Yeah, but that man's heart and cigarettes are rolled up in his sleeve.

And she is so elusive, he can't even catch his breath.

Well, you don't want someone who seems too real,

In this weather you could catch your death

By goin' 'round, 'round, 'round,

Oh, he don't know what he's found.

It's like he goin' down, down, down,

Lookin' up at the bottom of the sea.

He know he goin' 'round, 'round,

But he don't know where he are, or what he likely to be.

Maybe what you're lookin' for is hidden by the clock,

Just under their dresses, or beneath a rock.  I can only guess.

Some men want to stay timely.

Others want to be kind.

Some men strive for timelessness,

And the rest just waste your time.

Well, it's after hours.  He's on some platinum balloon.

Something here smells fishy.  Man, that isn't her perfume.

And the moral of this story's told in her slamming of the door:

'If your nearly one-dimensional,

Best look 'round for a couple more'

 Or your gonna go 'round, 'round, 'round

Oh, I don't know what they've found.

It's like we're goin' down, down, down,

Lookin' up at the bottom of the sea.

I know we're goin' 'round, 'round,

But I don't know where we are, or what we're likely to be,

Or what we're likely to see.

-January 1987

*Title bestowed by Scott Hermes one afternoon over a pitcher at Jimmy’s

 20. Expectation

Come over by the window. Stand where I can see you clear.

I'll call this good by misadventure,

And you can call me Mr. Disappear.

In fact, it's only an opinion.

It's just a question of time.

What with the nights of abuses, while they're mourning excuses,

Come here, I've something for you, it's got a thousand uses.

What do you expect?

What could I possibly say?

No one's born to this.

I will always remember today.

Look, I've got to go away.

You'd have never seen this coming.

Hair like whiskey, eyes like breath.

Man, with these women you never win,

But just one more two-step, slow, down at the Buckle Inn.

I don't expect too much.

I'm not gonna kid myself.

There's been too much talk

About what's best forgotten 'neath a shelf.

Reach down, grab that violin, and play it nice and slow.

You know I'm just the game for you.

We build puzzles the way men play chess.

They've done the borders, baby, I'll do the rest.

Just brick up the window with the books you've read.

I could hang from anybody's limb.

Even God took things in His own time.

Christ, He even asked what men said of Him.

What do I expect?

I wasn't born to this.

What could anybody say,

When all you do is look away?

Listen, just listen, and I'll stay.

-January 1987

 19.  #13  This Week, With A Bullet

In the beginning, man looked up and he wanted to fly.

200,000 years later, 

I'm amazed at the things he can stick in the sky.

I don't know why people want to believe in some

Superorbital Man-Of-Steel.

'The heavens will protect us,'  says our comic book hero,

Some actually believe is real.

And the children sing,

Ring, ring, ring rosey,

Let's send up the latest technology.

Ignore the nay-sayers and their unfounded fears.

They're just noble physicists and nuclear engineers.

Some sexual habits are different, but I can't let this pass.

The bomb builders bed down with the bomb droppers,

As we take it up the ass.

Even Eisenhower warned us, but the D.O.D. lies with Congress, 

The White House lies in our face,

As extremism in defense of democracy brews up the next arms race.

And the U.S. generals sing,

Ring, ring, ring rosey,

It's the rockets red glare that really gets to me.

The A.B. M. systems are the latest rage,

And we'll red-bait 'em back to the next stone age.

It's not a question of right or left, or ideology.

It's a question of peace and security, common sense and reality.

Man, it's your friends, home, and family.

And friend it's time to choose,

Before Mamma here it comes,

And we learn too late "The Fuckin'-Blown-To-Bits-By-An-I.C.B.M. Blues".

And we all sing,

Ring, ring, ring rosey,

Life isn't simple. It doesn't have to be.

Take the responsiblity that there's no way around

Before it's ashes, ashes to ashes, and we all go falling down.

In the beginning, man looked up and he wanted to fly.

-December  1986

 18. It's That Time Again

It doesn't seem very long ago.

Outside the church, I watched parked cars

Disappear under Christmas snow.

It was about eleven, and the service was about to start.

I could have stood there all night,

But I was only seven, so I went in and played my part.

I guess it's the cold that I like the most.

Christ, if he were here, he'd probably spend his birthday on the gulf coast.

Drive along the water, and watch the sea-oats sway;

Have a few beers, then stroll onto the gulf.

Probably fish all day.

And it's that time again,

'Tis the season for shopping, cartoons, and a little good will to men.

But after giving dad that perfect Christmas tie,

After all the parties, after all the clothing drives,

Once the New Year's resolutions are tossed like the empty bottles of champagne,

Then it's back to routine, and thank God that everything's back the same.

We seem strangely blessed once all the lights have been put away.

Charity may begin at home, but always seems to end on Christmas day.

Two shepherds tend their flocks by night.

It's late. it's cold. They're more than a little tight,

One says to the other, 'Man, is that some kind of star?'

'No, man it's probably just a passing car."

And it's that time again.

Sometimes among the voices of angels

You can hear the voices of men.

-December 1986 

 17.  Love Is Gonna Break The Fall

Broken at the bottom of a red-green hill,

Do she love me? Yes, she will.

I think my heart's gonna take a spill,

And love is gonna break the fall.

She's all the way from Baton Rouge.

I want to be the one she choose.

I'd gladly give her all I got to lose.

Love is gonna break the fall.

Sure, there's lots of problems

Big surprise, I've always had a few.

Life is bound to knock you to and fro,

At least we know there's somewhere to go

When all the hope and the help is in the hinter land.

It's not a problem if you understand

Just how I feel when I hold your hand.

Love is gonna break the fall.

I could have wandered forever

For better or, more likely, for worse,

But you bound me in your arms, you came and set me free.

We are a party.  Let's remarry.

For you, I'd sail across the ocean in a paper cup.

I get to you,  I'm gonna drink you up.

Ain't gonna stop until you've had enough.

Save the last, it's the best of all.

Ain't gonna worry 'cause love is gonna break the fall.

-December 1986 

 16.  We Remember Whatever We Can

Streetlights  and  cigarettes (Those narrow glows of industry) Invented a memory

Recounted as a prayer.


Christ, it's gotten awful cold. You've found yourself an overcoat In the things we left below;

You were never undersold.


Man, the weather's all we had, But, boy, it was enough

As the weather was so bad.


At least I'm built for colder climes, As the wind has wound itself around. Look, I'm no good at falling down And your pocket's full of stairs.


In time, we'd build everything out of time; It's strong as stone, lighter than wood.

Then our spare moments could be bridges From the places we've misunderstood.


It's really best we leave things there; After all, they're looking up.

Just put them in a paper cup, And throw it in the air.


-November 1986



 15.  The Dancer


Here's a little dance and it goes like this.

By the way you walk, I can tell you're surprised.

You better learn the steps before you're caught sleeping. Just get out on the floor with one you won't miss,

And waltz with her slowly until you stop weeping.


You ask the driver if you've nearly arrived. He stops the bus and opens up the door. Out of the window, you see a man bleeding, So you decide to stay along for the ride,

And as the bus pulls away, you try to stop weeping.


It's moments like these we all wish for,

A little bit of money and a clean pair of shoes. Be right on time for all of your meetings,

Or you'll be left unforgiven and forever poor. Be a better man, and try to stop weeping.


Do you think you do the steps that you choose? The dancer bends over and he gives a little kiss. He's always sure of the time that they're keeping,

And he turns and he turns 'til he's got nothing to lose, And then he drops to his knees and trys to stop weeping.


-October 1986



 14.  Take It Apart


Take a letter. Aw, you couldn't give it away. Take a letter.  It's best that the boy doesn't stay.

Don't be surprised if I screw up my right and wrong,

I had it written on each hand, but I washed them and now it's gone.


Take a minute. Do I look like I'm quickly amused? Take a second, now that the first one is used.

Ain't got time to straighten out your point of view.

Get out of my way.  Don't you got something better to do.


Standing on the corner, wonderin' which way to go, Don't ask me. I don't know.

Sometimes things just ain't what they seem, So don't ever relax, and stay very, very clean.


Take a taxi.  Take a ride in reverse.  Take a lesson, taken for better or worse.

Take a letter to my second, have him nail it to the courthouse door. You can take the boy out of the bottle,

but you can't take this boy out anymore.


-October  1986



 13.  Some Of The Things I've Said Before (to Jeff Boulden)


I thought I saw it coming. You could hear it for so little a day, But then you came up short, and the sound began to fade away. Now, if you're after me for what you heard for free,

I've got nothing left to tender, and you'll be unlikely to stay.


So often I've had visions of places that I've never known, Disjointed cities and towns I've made-believe are home.

I could take you there today, but you can find your own way, For our dreams are as rare and different as two pocket combs.


Remember all those pretty songs, the ones we knew so well?

They'd sing about their precious souls

as if they had fingerprints and wore copper bells. Our lives are versions of lives held so many times before; What would you do for your own story,

in these quiet days between the wars?


You're here pretty late, there's not much left to see. I can't even recall what it was meant to be.

But since you're on the phone, it's not so bad alone;

I'm not as desperate as I was when we last kept company.


-September 1986



 12.  Leave Time


Leave it to the man who's left up stairs, Brought to whatever the market bares. Right as reign, left of steady,

He won't come down 'til they're good and ready. Once upon a time,

He nearly got somewhere.


You'd have thought that we'd have been down by now, But who wants to slaughter a sacred cow?

Easy words that are set for free Are nickel and diming philosophy. Time after time,

They lie down and take a bow.


Mother didn't breed no deep thinker. I should feel safe in days like these, But I've never been a heavy drinker,

'Though I'd stay three sheets to the breeze Before being fluent in the criminalese.


Cast my songs upon the seas,

If they don't get back, then let it be. Carve these words into the wall,

"I steal from Peter 'cause I buryed Paul." Gonna have a time,

Before these times have me.


-September 1986



 11.  Richard Krueger's 12,760th Dream


Walkin' down 58th street one day, Walkin' toward school about a mile away, A big, black car pulled up to the side,

A man jumped out, and he asked me if I'd ever played guitar. I said, "Yes, sir!

(After a fashion)

What'd you want to know?"


He said, "There's no time!", and he pulled me in. The driver hit the gas, and we went for a spin Down to a place called "The Factory".

He stopped the car, he looked at me, He said, "Get out, kid!"

I said, "Well, sir!


But where are we?"


He said, "You talk too much, but that's okay, No one's gonna a give a damn what you say. Gonna take you inside, make you thin,

Paint your head, and put you in a rock-and-roll band. Gonna be part of the next wave, a big sensation.

Be bigger than 'The Doobie Brothers'." "Ooo wee!"


"But if our experts say that ain't your look, Gonna take you inside, make you read a book

On 'How to learn to sing off-key and confuse Marx'; Gonna make you be a folksinger.

If your willin', you'll be the next Bob Dylan. Seem to need a new one every couple years."


He said, "Sign write here," and he flashed a grin. I said, "Wait a minute, son, before I'm sucked in I got a question.  I want to know

If I can do what I want. See, I want to show That I'm a real composer.

I write serious music.

Music that's better than it sounds."


He said, "Oh, no!", and he held his nose, "I didn't realize you were one of those!" He jumped in his car, and he sped away. I'd still be there to this very day,

But I jumped on top, and I held on tight.

We drove and drove, straight through the night 'Til we got back home, and he stopped the car,

Rolled down the window, and yelled to this kid with a red guitar, "Hey, kid!"

Kid said, "Yes, sir."

"Gonna make you a star, kid.

Gonna make you the next Elvis Saul Bellow" I said this was a dream.

I just got off the roof of that car and walked my way.

-May  1986



 10.  No Time At All


Well, it's fallen out of mouth and it's a little romantic. Something is wrong, even the British are panicked.

You've got to have the look, it's our impression that matters. Is ours the stately beauty of two waltzing cadavers?


Were those nothings we spoke? Is this rhetorical passion (Distrustful diction, tone tempered by ration)?

If you've got nothing to say, then what's the language for? You'll find love only useful as a metaphor.


Our lying together, we were so cute,

You in silk russian pajamas and me in a red union suit. You can wave a white flag and watch what it gets you, But there's been a defection in this party's affection; I'm a ward of the state of emotional vivisection.

I'll just fill out the back of this book of matches And be on my feet again in no time at all.


-December 1985



 9.  Another Gray Weds.


Why can't you calm down, who doesn't fight with their family? It's not the first time that you felt abused.

You can't be accused of not having thought this thing through; Well, at least they discussed it today on Phil Donahue.


He left an impression, but it's not his ideas that struck you funny, But without some ambition to what would you want to be free?

So, you stare out the window and watch how the house martins feed, And hope your sons don't find his pornography,

And the radio plays you a love song on another gray wednesday at tea.


Aw, what's the harm? He's just out-of-pocket charm.

Take his lucky money, and go miles and miles and miles away. We'll run away to be every evening's evening guest,

And after taking coffees, we'll take friendly liberties.


It'll be easier that way.

If you can't face the daylight, daydream it away.


No use living in the future tense.

Departing is akin to making common sense. You can't accept again as empty recompense His violets or violins for violence.


So you kick out the chair, and are found on a belt, Hanged from a hook screwed in up above.

Is it an idea whose time has run

To put down your hands and trust the one you love?


-September to December 1985



 8.  Do We Dance


Little girl on a date to a dance,

She and the boy go 'round and 'round and 'round. The band plays something from '64,

But it ain't like nothin' ever heard before.

Well, the floor starts moving when the bass kicks in, She grabs at her collar as if to ask for a pin.

The boy gets excited, and the band starts to sing, "Do we dance, do we dance, do we dance."


She never had a blind date before.

She thought she knew just what to expect.

He'd be a Kleinfelter's who's just served his term, Or somebody's cousin with a case of the worms.

But when she got to the place, there sitting oon the step, Was a vision in leather with a face you don't forget.

He said, " Your name Mary? My name is Joe. Do we dance, do we dance, do we dance?"


Little girl leanin' on the Wurlizter,

Watchin' the records spin 'round and 'round' and 'round. Man, he came on all sweetness and light,

Who'd a thought he'd never want to hold you tight? Well, everyone distracted 'til the record stops, Thinking 'bout the next warm body in pants.

So she finishes her drink, and drops another coin for "Do we dance, do we dance, do we dance."


-July to November 1985



 7.  Resignation To Romance for Liz


We tend to be victims of novels, We tend to be victims of youth,

So, when you hear someone's love song, You're bound to hear it as some personal truth.


We've been in love, mistaken friends for lovers, And forgotten that mistakes define you;

I'm not going in to wonder how I lived without us, I've all but forgotten that, too.


There's lots of cliches we could sigh,

Like the words "I love you 'til the day I die," But I know what keeps us together,

It's the premise that things will get better.


And, besides, you can sleep through my snoring. Love means never having to admit you're boring.


I'll be Cinderella to your Princess Charming, All you need to throw me is the extra shoe. As Eve begot Cain, you engender

The resignation to romance I tender.


-July 1985



 6.   Dust To Dust


So, the boy said he loved you,

Or did he say he'd love you so? He'd take you from momma and the kids,

He wouldn't get you pregnant. No time to waste in your thirteenth year,

No telling safe from sated.

Sorry life's meant nothing yet,

At least your ego's not deflated;

But no balloon would suspect the damage one prick could do On a February night when the buses weren't running.


Dust to dust to dust

To us the girl doesn't seem too cunning Dust to dust to dust to dust


It's a different party now;

It's enough to drive you mad.

You look like you've just had

The best friend you'll ever have.

For an economy to grow

There's no room for a welfare dodge; Government's not going to pay for any

Dilatation and curettage.

Now the boy's cut you from one hole to the other

As the surgeon's sew up another little momma on the A.F.D.C.


Dust to dust to dust

Another little boy in the land of the free. Dust to dust to dust to dust


Why aren't they on the pill?

Don't they want to get somewhere? You ask why they think like this, Or who do they think they.

Won't they serve our own best interest? Don't they have a stake in heaven?

Or have we forgotten something, Like lessons taught in '67?


Little boy and the children play

(That's how they learn and grow) Down by the factory,

But where did the owner go?

With its windows smashed in,

And its inside all dark, I hear the city wants to

Turn it into a car park.

Why not, with its walls all scrawled with a hoodlum's sneer

That if voting could change things, it would have been made illegal.


Dust to dust to dust

Do you feel pretty regal?

Dust to dust to dust to dust to dust


-July 1985



 5.   Sometime Tomorrow


Sometime tomorrow the beach will be cold Sometime tomorrow we will seem pretty old To the kids who swim among the concrete piles

Who dance on shore in what seem individual styles (Another generation advanced sexual behavior) Who tan on the tombs of the unknown sun-bathers


And it makes me feel pretty old


-July 1985



 4.   I Love A Man for Scott Hermes


I love a man.

Where do I start?

I love a man.

He stole my heart.

I love a man.

And I feel blue.

I love a man.

When we're apart.

I don't want to cause any discomfort,

But it's not what you think, it's nothing of that sort. I love a man.  I love a man.


I love a man.

I'm not alone.

I love a man.

He makes our days.

I love a man.

My wife understands.

I love a man.

It's not a phase.

If someone here has got some problem with this,

If he could hold you in his arms, yeah, you'd know what you'd have missed.


You'll always be the dearest friend.

You'll never know how many of us you've touched. Sure I'm glad that we've got something platonic,

But my arms want you clutched, and this feeling's kinda chronic.


I love a man.

You're so cute.

I love a man.

You make me laugh.

I love a man.

You're such a tease, I love a man.

And that's not half.

If I was still single, and we both weren't straight, I tell you, Scott, I think I'd ask you on a date.

I love a man. I love a man. I love a man.


-July 1985



 3.   Left For You


Things have turned up up-ended.

Our dreams seemed possible, now they're amended. Why do ask me if I can't help it?

If I could, wouldn't things have come out different?


I don't want to be a hero.

I just wanna stay a adolescent.

I'm gonna give back the things you sold me. Don't get romantic; this is no fantasy.

I might want to be your lover,

But I forgot the films they showed us in school. This isn't all I had to offer,

But it's all that I've got left for you.


Now you look all offended,

But your pout is worn, your expression's distended. I don't worry about your losing face,

Or take responsibility for my lack of grace.


I don't really have an answer,

But I don't really have to be clever,

For, as the smoke clears, it's all been covered; You lost this true lover by fucking around.

You think that we've got half a chance, Well, this half is tired of playing with you. I've really nothing left to say,

Because I've really nothing left for you.


-June 1985



 2.   It Wouldn't Be Right


She grew up needing affection, but now she lets it, For dining and dancing,

For flowers and backrent, and it's all spent. She's fallen to fast to mount any response. Trap's swung tight again tonight.

She's not chagrined, it wouldn't be right.


Kindness ain'tn it,

And cruel's part and parcel.

She's down to cases,

And he's getting hostle, so she sells,

But no love's labor's lost, no missionary work, Wallet on the table, she'll unbutton her shirt. She's not chagrined, it wouldn't be right.


She doesn't ask for what she doesn't need. It's a job, it's not a living.

She gives you something, but you want for more. Well, your hour's taken in, and your time's a whore.


If you want conversation, she'll show you her tights. She doesn't want to be coddled.

Just put out the lights, and pass the bottle.

Or else in the morning things might seem clearer. Don't make her over.

Don't make her over.

She's not chagrined, it wouldn't be right.


-June 1985



 1.  Song


Martha, Martyr, Mater

Please play us a little less smarter We want to try to aim

To sing some simple Rock and Roll


Martha, Martyr, mainly

What we took together so gravely Wasn’t what we saw

When we saw stars We saw it in ourselves


I only wanted your respect

But what I got as your attention I needed to pool

All that drew us together But I gathered in stead

You’d another image in your head.


But if we

Wanted what was missing

All your lovin’, confort ‘n kissing

Self-respect or pride we’d take in

More than we could truly afford,


-September 22, 1983

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Rich Krueger

Rockin'K Music International
Unnecessary Art Productions
Evergreen Park, IL


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