Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Gift of Desperation

Used to be so happy, why, I couldn't tell the time
We never asked the reason or how the meter rhymed
We ate and drank and fit each other till we woke again
A hint of desperation clued us even then.

Something in the way you walked, it talked to me with force
Something else in how you smiled -- that smile, it wasn't yours
It wasn't mine, oh mercy, to restore your soul to you
A spell of desperation left me wandering, too.

Saw you at the window, oh, you've lost your lucky star
Wondered how you knew the one when billions there are
Things were hidden from you even when you set to see
And a wave of desperation carried you to me.

Offered, I received you, who were my portion and my cup
Took your name upon my lips and turned the bottoms up
Then we saw the altar -- we had to turn away
From the smell of desperation, the odor of decay.

We're ready to be broken, and you know you wish we would
Still you don't believe it would do us any good
The wretched in perdition got nothin' on us two
It's the hell of desperation, makes living hard to do.

Everybody's drifting, goin' back to what they did
They got a glimpse of glory, then they ran and hid
You can't avoid temptation, don't try and hold your breath
It's the sting of desperation before the sting of death.

Sometimes I gotta wonder, where we gonna go
Yearning for a lover is the only thing I know
What makes the lover lovely is what I'm looking for
And the pangs of desperation make me want it more.

Baby, please forgive me, see, I guess it wasn't you
But something beneath that our shivers of desire pointed to
Understand, it has to be the end of the affair
I took a vow of desperation and married my despair.

Well the heavens are a-rainin', a wind is on the move
The city sends to sleep a son with something left to prove
Baby, when you find out you got nothin' left to be
That's the gift of desperation sent to you and me.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Someone's Prayer

I want to see the faces, not the masses
Or what passes for a celebration
In these sacred places. If I must, I'll
Crawl into the alley with the people
Living lowly speaking gospel, drinking
Wine and welcoming the lights beyond the
Blue horizon. City heights, or empty
Valley lanes below the sun, or even
All the homes I knew before: exclaim the
Hidden names of life and make me shiver
With the child I love, the girl I adored.

I want to know what's real despite the doubters
Shouting louder than the dreaming silents --
Let me roll the wheel. My name is nothing
In the streets, a kind of alien blessing
In the jazzy traffic. Noises never
Know the others; lonely are the yellers
Seeking looks, not seeing farther than the
Image in their eyes. The music begs for
Hearers of the names in town of hermits,
Begs in suburbs of social clowns who aren't
What they claim. No deeds can save their names.
I pray that others hear what they have done.

August 5, 2002

This poem is a little rough, a little incomplete, like the person who wrote it and reads it now with fresh eyes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Still Alright, Ma (I'm Only Repeating)

Sitting in an empty room
And sowing words into a womb
And sending it addressed to whom
It may concern -- I can't assume
That anybody's feeding.

After tilting, armies of the right
Congratulate themselves despite
The fact there's no such thing as black and white
It gets so hard to pray at night
When inspiration's fleeting.

Life's the same but not the aim
I'll change the rules and then the game
But it's alright, Ma, it's not like cheating.

Your lover called you fifty times
You tried to fit Paul Simon's rhymes
Into the scheme, but all the crimes
Of passion forked your tongue and made your lines
Sound stiff and funny.

I heard the cost of freedom fell
There's no demand; it's just as well
For while it's true it's sex that sells
A hundred million prison cells
Are making better money.

So when the cops ask who I am
I'll ask them "Why do you give a damn?"
And it's alright, Ma, they'll only stun me.

The madonnas on the golden thrones
I heard them say "It's not well known
But you can wring blood from a stone
And you can feel it in your bones
When evil comes to meet you."

I told the queen "That's cruel but fair.
So why are you just sitting there
With vacant eyes that stare and stare
When men are coming everywhere
To humble and defeat you?"

Then her kid said "If they did
Who cares? I'll take the hit.
But it's alright, Ma, they will bleed, too."

Twelve thousand people clenched their fists
Tattooed a peace sign on their wrists
I told a band of anarchists
It's strange to grant the atheists
A blessing for their cursing.

For seven weeks I stayed in port
Refused to eat or drink or sport
Then forty days of rain fell through
I had to raise the sails for new
Adventures in God's mercy.

In the cove there's not a sound
And you might think the world was drowned
But it's alright, Ma, it's just immersing.

I'm walking away from the park
They're shouting Shakespeare in the dark
I'm spitting canned heat on the ground
Tonight you can be lost or found
This time it's time for choosing.

When you shut the door and go to bed
With just you or one more instead
Remember we were always friends
If you believe love never ends
Then don't act like you're losing.

So if you think I've had too much to drink
Or not enough and need to take a wink
Well, that's alright, Ma, the story is amusing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ugly Man

I want to be an ugly man
So I can hold a humble pride.
Won't fashion make or wardrobe plan,
Won't need a ring, won't have a bride.

And this is how I want to feel --
Coarse like a hog, odd as a mule,
An ox who always drags the wheels,
Who wears a bow but bears no jewels.

And when at last I'm ugly, can
You be so kind to tell me, too?
And stare at me, if you can stand;
Don't let good manners hinder you.

Look long enough, look at this dun,
Until there's nothing else to see.
Look all your life, you won't be done,
And that is what will most please me.

May 29, 2003

Monday, August 3, 2009

To My Own Mary of Magdala

What are you trying to say?

Your words are difficult and
Fragile as a painted eggshell.

This is not the news I want to hear.
This is not the news I want to bear.

You destroyed forever all I hoped would be
Sending softly leaded nightmares
In the middle of the dawn.

We walked the warming days
Shared in your imperfect vision
Through tears and peers into perdition
You pulled me through the darkness
To follow the sun unsetting.
It really wasn't our decision.

Now the sun is years and lives away
I turned and looked
You didn't stay

Sometimes you infuriate me
With your joy and with your riches
With your closeness to the secret
With your liveliness

Wrapped inside a thickly woven cloak made just for you.

How will I forgive your happiness?

No, I don’t want what I cannot hold.
No, don’t send me down the road.

What are you trying to say?

Go, and go which way?
Go, and go to whom?

Leave me in my room
Head turned down, body shrunk
Wishing, witless, that I never saw you grieving
That I never listened to your still demanding
Or invented some offense
That could have kept myself from you for shame.

Here I’m writing words like these
While standing on my knees
And I don’t know what I’m trying to say
Leaving letters along the way.

And I don’t know what I’m going to do.
See -- the sun, it follows you!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

John 10:34

Swimming inward
I lost everything I wanted
Stripped in the cold stream
Fluttering in water
A hard, sunken stone
No light, no sound
The water alone clothes me
With dissolved salts.

Midnight moonlight,
Wavy shimmer on the surface of your sea:

Where are you? Are you in me?

"You are what you are.
Become what beholds you."

Straining to speak, breathing out of nothing
Desire spills over
I am baptized with a kiss of fire
Moments are woven across the godless distance.

With the turning of years,
I am writing the words of a song I cannot hear.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Come Home

I want you, child, I want you for me
I want you, child, I want you for me
You ought to know who set you free
(Listen to me!)
Come home

I'm a blindin' light, I'm a king without a queen
I'm a blindin' light, I'm a king without a queen
Done the greatest things no one's ever seen
(You want to know what I mean?)
Come home

The rich man is bad
The poor man is sad
I let down my mother, I don't know my dad
Come home, child, I want you for me
Cross the desert sands, cross the desert sea.

Oh me oh my, wedding days have come
Oh me oh my, wedding days have come
Gonna live it a lot, no time for some
(Put out your thumb!)
Come home

You can round the world, from Arabia to Rome
You can round the world, from Arabia to Rome
If you ain't with me, you're on your own
(Get on the phone!)
Come home

The fat old sun burns
The full moon returns
You don't know or love me, but maybe you'll learn
Come home, child, I want you for me
Just for today and eternity.

We gonna die, child, spirits hand in hand
We gonna die, child, spirits hand in hand
You gotta die to survive and make a stand
(You understand?)
Come home, oh, come home, child, I want you for me
Ain't nowhere else you want to be.