Usually Arcane


(for Stan)

[verse]
My brother had a way of being
just out of reach
just over some hill only
he saw and only he could cross.

He liked to talk more than listen
much as we all do
and when he had something significant
to say he’d lean heavy on his pool cue.

[chorus]
Lover of fast cars
he rode bikes and busses thinking
up political cartoons
that he’d never ink.

[verse]
Stan was once married for a while
a long time ago.
He said it was over when the
waffles hit the wall, in the waffle iron.

He could quote Dostoyevsky
and liked Walt Whitman,
admiring Thoreau and Mark Twain –
sometimes apt, usually arcane.

[chorus]
Lover of fast cars
he rode bikes and busses thinking
up political cartoons
that he’d never ink.

[verse]
He’d never let me past his
porch where he’d smoke
like a recluse, a misanthrope.
He’d be obtuse, and I’d try to keep up.

I don’t think he lived anywhere
else outside of a
week or two on a job
except for kid years in Santa Barbara.


Interested in a world where
people read between
the lines and see beyond thin air,
perhaps Stan will find it over there.

[verse]
C /// C6 ///
Gm7 ///
Ab6 /// Gm7 ///
AMa7 /// //// G /// ////

[chorus]
F /// ////
Am7 /// //// AMa7 ///
F /// Am ////
CMa9 /// G /// ////

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Life’s Knife

[A]
What does a lonely mother want
to impart to her wayward son?
What is the motherly message
she is reluctant to pass on?

[B]
You’ve been given everything
under heaven, so how
are you going to pay back
the universe now?

[A]
If she were a religious woman
what would she say in a prayer?
If she could let out her heartfelt
desire what could she share?

[B]
I gave you life itself and then
a sweet and glorious childhood.
Can you come and visit me?
It would do my soul good.

[A]
What should the father do
if anything to help her
impress upon their boy
those things she will not tell?

[B]
Youth might think that youth
is all there is to life
until the fat and lean of it
are separated by its knife.

[A]
C /// //// C69 /// ////
C /// //// C69 /// ////
C /// //// C69 /// ////
C /// //// C69 /// ////

[B]
Fm7 /// //// Gm6 ///
Fm7 /// //// Gm6 ///
Fm7 /// //// Gm6 ///
G7 /// F9 /// C /// ////

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Western Man

[verse]
I am a western man –
not a country boy but a western man.
No horse, no truck.
I make my own luck.
You can tell me what to do but I
decide to decide.

[refrain]
My father and my mother took
pride in what they were making
a rich new world in which taking
required some giving back.

[verse]
Nobody lives alone.
Out here we know we have to work together.
Foundations laid and wood
cut a long time ago.
I’m just adding what I have to add
just like gram and granddad.

So that is who I am.
Tough, but only tough enough for the job.
Pride goeth before a fall.
Therefore why brag at all?
Putting parts in place where they belong
satisfies the song.

[refrain]
My father and my mother took
pride in what they were making
a rich new world in which taking
required some giving back.

[verse]
Eb /// ///
Gm7 / C7 / Gm7 / C7 / Eb ///
Gm7 /// Bb7 ///
C6 /// Bb13 ///
Eb /// ////
Gb7 / F7 / Eb /// ////

[refrain]
[5/4] Ab6 //// Eb6 ////
[5/4] Ab6 //// Gm7 ////
[4/4] Ab6 / D / Db6 / C7 /
Bb7 /// Eb ///

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Mars

For a moment
the only color
Mars in the morning
shows stamina
and tenderness too
watching over
peaceful change
from deep dark
to invisibility.

In that moment
he is cut off
enflamed by
forgetting fifty
million miles from
spot in the sky
to familiarity at
the breakfast table
with the wife.

Where was he on
the prior evening
over a manhattan
in a coffee cup
like a general not
to be found until it’s
almost done and time
for taking bows.

Credit being taken
for dreams by those
incapable of seeing
far and oddly enough
for strangers to fill
roles and have a place
in the dim wheels
of the black box we
keep waking up to.

Helmet on my heavy
head and sword
scabbarded at the knees
I climb the ladder
to where the battle
has not yet been won
but has already come
to realize the cost
of continuing.

My troops stagger
out of the trucks
where they slept
wishing for ice cream
at a baseball game
but knowing the world
and the solar system
and the land of make believe
are all bigger than they are.

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When Expanding Shrinks

As it does at most turnarounds
tone returns to valley floor
cameras click at familiarity
when expanding shrinks
scattered are agendas.

When expanding shrinks
the packaging takes over
the dogs bark little nothings
distance is more distant
the three pigs huff and puff.

When expanding shrinks
tickets are bought and lost
truffles try hard to taste
singers voice their mouthings
with such innocent tongue.

I have been here before
that is how I know it again
its level roundabout paths
the way the sun slants through
the meadow in the middle.

When expanding shrinks as
it does as most non-radical
adjustments to erratic reality
the hand firms up it grip on
the knife that cuts and trims.

When expanding shrinks
the yeomen take breaks
the beer gets almost warm
lists read themselves to themselves
and expectations are expected.

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Believe the Unbelieved

[A]
A man once said, hell no.
Then his children said, pourquoi pas?
A woman said, pas permis!
Her grandchildren said, why not?
Brille, Lune
through the grayest day.

[B]
When we were still too small
we were told to never interrupt.
Ne parlez pas quand je vous parle.
But now the time is right to scream.

[A]
Only the birds can fly.
Don’t be silly to think otherwise.
Seul l’oiseau chanteur chante.
Vous êtes des chiens, alors, aboyez!
Make noise
you who are alive.

No one can fight city hall.
They have after all all the power.
Mais non, mais oui, dit Le Rien
parce que le pouvoir est partout.
Grow, you grain,
until you feed the world.

[B]
Who leapt from limb to limb,
cliff to cliff on nothing but the wind?
Le chauve-souris, oui? Ou peut-être vous?
Whoever will get off the ground.

There were once two problems
wrapped up in each other’s silver chains.
Along came Le Fou avec ciseaux.
En une seconde rien que des maillons.

[A]
A man once said, hell no.
Then his children said, pourquoi pas?
A woman said, pas permis!
Her grandchildren said, why not?
Brille, Lune
through the grayest day.

[A]
G6 /// ////
C /// Cm7(viii) ///
G6 /// E7 ///
A7 /// D7 ///
E7 /// Am / D7 /
F7 / F#7 / G ///

[B]
C#9 / D7 / F7 ///
C#9 / D7 / F7 ///
Am7 / D7 / Bbm7 / Eb7 /
F7 / F#7 / G ///

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Tech-Slapped Linguicide

In another generation half the languages
around the world will be killed off
by pesticides, by bad education,
by capitalistic dildo worship.
In a generation no more, no more
art across idiom, play across dialect.

Even the big and healthy tongues
spoken by tens of thousands of mothers
to their western-dominated retail kids
are shriveling under the droughted sun
under a hundred degrees of colonialism
and its homogenization of the average.

Older children spoke in grammatical
categories unacceptable to goddam
shit-spreader bezos, boss of extermination
of diversity, big head of chopping off
of anything not in his holy database,
banning earth from heaven, and vice versa.

Only gifted and peripheral strangers
from places less polluted than Palo Alto
will in the near and impoverished future
slip into and out of multipled lexica
denied and badly translated by google
the way teachers slapped around indians.

Nowdays even arabic punishes berber
the way chinese brutalizes uyghur
the way proper schoolmarms and managers
whip into submission expressive workers
bilingual customers and minority contractors
who fuck up the system with native phrases.

When robots are in charge communicating
in statistically valid concatenations
violently devoid of poetry or humanity
little ones with bare seeds of scarce genes
will nurture and foster in rich whispers
the bon mot, the tall tale, the mythic chant.

Then will the poor globe be tectonically
split between under and over worlds
between the verbally quick and the dead
the em bee ayes and the sick oh fants
repeating input while the offspring
of lovers and creators perform life lyrics.

Whose side are you on, I ask my semantic
self. On the side of tip-of-the-tongue genius?
Or on the side of algorithmic fascism?
Instantly the instant and hominid answer pops
itself off with a metaphor from disease.
Cancer is the same word over and over.

One of these realms of functionality
one of these brainy ecosystems
will perish like decorative stone scarecrows
while one will spread like nourishing weeds
growing into civilizations civilized the way
our talk talked us into saying the infinite.

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Whiplashes of Vision

Secrets known
only sidelong
how insensible
when eyes worsen
more gets seen
as cloud cover
foregrounds distance
shadows lighten
and the nose’s end
shows off covert
links, breaks and
feathered layers.

Clinging to a branch
in wind birds
understand and
talk about it
constantly until
twilight calls it
quits for dreams
then they and we
consolidate our quick
guesses into longer
woven conclusions
to which slow dawn

gives raw power
over delineations
over the deliberate
whiplashes of vision.

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Inspired By Grass

Inspired by grass
I spread my many
weaknesses like words
straight and soft
belonging to no one
a carpet to tiptoe on
the way love runs
over humble favors.

Friends made and lost
left right and fallen
off my bumpy wagon
they didn’t even wave
although neither did I
I thought I would have a chance
to look them in the eye
once my milestones added up.

Love breaks no heart
cannot be broken
maybe given up on
but never slain
while we humans chase moments
the denizens of heaven
make waves to weave
satisfaction out of years.

Inspired by grass
I spread my many
weaknesses like words
straight and soft
belonging to no one
a carpet to tiptoe on
the way love runs
over humble favors.

[verse]
C /// Bb ///
Gm7 /// A7 ///
AbMa7 /// C ///
G6 / Gm7 / A7 ///
G /// F6 ///
G9 /// C ///
F /// C7 ///
Dm7 /// Gm7 /// F /// ////

[buffer]
Am7 / Gm7 / Cm(iii) / Cm7(viii) /
Bm11 / Bb6 / F ///

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Mud Rock Desert

[verse]
Drums in the distance calling me
to lands that hardly have a care.
Keys right there in my pocket
jingling but going nowhere.

I should have stayed on the road.
I should have gone back home.
‘Should’ is such a bad word.
I wish it would leave me alone.

[chorus]
I am a seed planted in mud,
a sapling rooted in rock,
now a shade tree in the desert.

[verse]
The ups turned into dramatic
downs, standing on the ledge.
What I thought were choices
were eddies at the stream’s edge.

I learned enough about being young
to lift me out of youth.
In these new years all those old
lessons have no use.

[chorus]
I am a seed planted in mud,
a sapling rooted in rock,
now a shade tree in the desert.

[verse]
[4/4] D /// A ///
D /// C#m7 ///
Am7 /// ////
G#m7 / D#9 / D ///
[3/4] Gma7 C#7 D7 C6 / Bm7 F#m7 //
[NV] Gma7 C#7 D7 C6 / Bm7 F#m7 //

[chorus]
[4/4] DMa7 /// E6 ///
D /// E ///
Am /// G6 /// Bb6(vi) / G9(x) / A7 ///

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