October 25, 2008

Goddesskiller

After listening to Joan Baez's "Diamonds & Rust"


They say Venus taught him the art of love
but he left her all broken and blue
when he left one day without saying goodbye
after learning all that she knew.

He drove Athena to write long, awkward poems
but before the last line had been read
he was already rising victorious
from Diana's empty white bed.

Then he stole the sword out of Kali's hand
after slipping out from between her limbs,
and he traveled until he found Freya;
she moved to Miami for him.

They lived together for a little while,
she had just hocked her feathers and furs,
when he met Brigid, got her drunk in some bar
and spent that night with her.

He was later seen on Funadama's boat,
they were both sunbathing on deck.
She let him steer, it was her own fault
when he nearly got them shipwrecked.

It must have been in the Caribbean,
for the fishermen talk to this day
of the torrents of tears that Yemaya wept
when he told her he wouldn't stay.

He met Hathor in some Turkish nightclub,
they danced all night cheek to cheek,
but the morning after, he was back on his way,
and the cows wouldn't give milk for weeks.

You'd think that he would fear consequences
for this selfish, cruel, thoughtless game.
But he knows that the hearts of goddesses
and the hearts of women are the same.

The ones he abandons may wield power
far beyond any measure of man,
but he knows, though they could destroy him,
they'd rather just love him again.

October 18, 2008

Old Footsteps

I trace old footsteps in the dark
and fill them in with sidewalk chalk.
And if the morning rain washes it away
I'll do it all again the next night.

I find old flowers pressed between
the pages of old notebooks.
They crumble blindly at my touch
but the perfume of their final breaths
still lays upon the paper.

I scatter seeds behind me
so I might later find my way.
But if the birds get to them first,
I'll still find a trail
by the ghosts of trees that might have been

I keep a box full of old maps.
The roads have all got different names now.
But a road is a road is a road is a road,
and they all must go somewhere.

I trace old footsteps in the dark,
I turn the stained and scented pages,
I seek shade from a tree that never was
and make my way to the road's end.

Empty Glass (lyric)

There's a place in the middle of nowhere
With a bar shined with ten thousand sleeves
Where there's always room for another glass
Raised to honor your grief.
The night comes in like a barfly
Looking for love or a fight
And we all look the same, all vaguely ashamed
In the drizzling yellowish light.

On a little stage off in the corner,
Tuning up an arthritic guitar,
Our unsteady, broken-mouthed prophet,
They say that he once was a star.
I never questioned that story,
Anyway, it's some version of truth
If he never had claim to money, beauty or fame,
Still, I'm sure that he once had his youth.

He'll sing songs of heartbreak, he'll sing songs of war
In a voice full of whiskey and love
It doesn't matter that we've heard them before
The novelty hasn't worn off.
And our hearts stumble on every fumbling chord,
Every slurred, sentimental line
There's meaning even in meaningless words
If that's what you're looking to find.

The bartender leans on the counter,
Her feet are starting to ache.
Another three pints, she figures
Till her next cigarette break.
In the dark, she's a golden oasis
You never would guess her age
When the storms ripped through her story
She must have covered her face.

She'll pour someone another, clear off the empties,
Her movements are graceful and clean
Ah, she's heard all my troubles, and I've heard some of hers
It's enough to call her my friend.
We'll head out together, she'll borrow my lighter
We'll talk for a while outside
Her words always sound wise, and I'll take her advice
Unless he walks in here tonight.

Well, sometimes, I've come here with friends
And sometimes, I come in alone
If I wasn't afraid of what it might mean
I'd say this place feels like home.
But tonight, the dark feels too heavy
Thick and black enough to make you choke
'Cause I just saw a cigarette in the gutter
And it's the brand that he liked to smoke.

October 17, 2008

Of Melomania and Modern Romance (lyric)

Let's rent a room at the Chelsea Hotel
Let's pretend it's still tawdry and cheap
Let's make love like hookers and drifters
While the limousines wait in the street.

Ah, let's buy a twelve-dollar bottle
Though you normally drink Perignon
Let's wander the city for hours
Till we find Woody's black-and-white dawn.

Let's find a place to have dinner
With a checkered red tablecloth
Let's pretend the pizza's authentic
And invoke Billy's musical ghost.

Let's walk into the dingiest bar we can find
Sit down and knock back a few
Feed the jukebox, pretend that the dollars are dimes
And that the bartender isn't a student at NYU.

Let's pretend you're Leonard Cohen
And that I am Erica Jong
Let's pretend that we're in a movie
Or a saxophone-backed love song.

Let's sail right to Philadelphia
Or let's just hitch a Ride with the King
In that Fast Car on the Rocky Road
Down to that old House in New Orleans.

Ah, forget comparing mythologies
Let's just trade iPods instead
'Cause music is the blood type that runs
In that space between soul and intellect.

Tour Guide from Hell('s Kitchen) (lyrical parody)

To the tune of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner"


Let's get on the train
I'll take you
Uptown to the real
Tom's Diner

I know you like
Suzanne Vega
Well, their milkshake's
Just as good

I know you used to
Watch Seinfeld
Did you know that
It was filmed there

Well not really,
but they did use
the sign for
exterior shots.

Let's get on the train
I'll take you
To Times Square
With all the tourists

It looks just like
All the movies
That they make
About New York

All the signs are
Big and flashy
All the cabs are
Slow and yellow

All the shows will
Run forever
And the water
Costs too much.

Let's get on the train
I'll take you
All the way down
To south Brooklyn

We will go to
Coney Island
Try our luck
At the arcade

Take a spin
Around the Cyclone
It's not scary
Once it's over

Then we'll get around
To Nathan's
And pretend the dogs
Are good.

Let's get on the train
I'll take you
All the way back
To Grand Central

We can grab a
Cup of coffee
Just in time to
Catch your train

When you get home
You can tell them
That New York is
Really something

They'll go starry-eyed,
Forgetting
You never said what
"Something" is.

Night Terrors

When all is quiet and no one stirs
They tiptoe in on furry paws
They take their positions without a sound,
At night, the demons come around.

Their hands are cool, their breath is sweet
They hold your head, they hold your feet
In voices soft as falling leaves
They only say what you want to believe.

In the morning, they will be gone,
You will be safe, you will be alone
And you won't remember their honeyed attack
But come next night, you'll wish them back.

Good Little Girls

Good little girls should be seen & not heard
a pretty picture's worth 1000 words
Or even more, I should properly say
for who wants 1000 words, anyway?

Polish your nails and highlight your hair
wear frilly pink dresses with no underwear
slick up your lips, blacken your eyes
think about doing something with your thighs

Jack up the price on the auctioneer's block
If you can't cook a roast, learn to jack off a cock
For good little girls have to earn their keep
So learn to look pretty even in your sleep

Learn to smile up and learn to look down
Learn the difference between a pout and a frown
The difference between a drink and a sip
Between conversation and giving him lip

But even good little girls will someday get old
Their charms will grow wrinkled, their beds will grow cold
But before that day comes, between you and I,
Good little girls find it easier to die.

October 13, 2008

Flying

I remember when
my grandfather would take me flying
on the swingset in the playground behind the drugstore.

He would set the swing in motion,
and I listened to the old chains
creaking their approval. I cried out,
"Higher! higher!" through a mouthful of wind.

My grandmother would always shout at us
to be careful. But when I flew
toward her, I could see
her eyes were shining. She seemed to me
beautiful and old. My mother is now older
than she had been

when last my grandfather took me flying.
He would push me, once, twice,
until I was flying
on my own, sailing
far above him, sometimes wondering
if I might fall, then deciding
not to wonder. I never fell.

Every time we stopped, I would
plead to go flying again. But finally,
my grandmother would say it was time for dinner.
My grandfather would whisper, "Next time,"
and, as we walked home, I knew
there would always be a next time.

Today,

I wandered past a playground. I do not know
if it was the same one; probably not, but
there was a swingset. I climbed on,

pushed off,
scattering leaves the color of a fresh #2 pencil
beneath my oversized feet,
and swung up
to a construction paper-blue sky,

higher and higher, till I thought
I might fly,

if only
I could stop clinging to these old chains,
or maybe if
my grandfather was there to push me.

River

Wading through a river, feeling the
pebbles digging into my soles,

sharp little reminders not to trip,
for this is a swift one
and the drop-off is sudden,
and it'll take you under
like it's nothing.

Wading through a river, and it sure is
pretty, with the crowns of the trees
reflecting in the water
like curly-headed girls laughing together
beneath the surface. I'll never get
their private joke.

Wading through a river, the water is cool,
the sun is warm on my shoulders, I
hardly miss you at all anymore. I
hardly think of you at all anymore, you see,
I'm just too busy
trying not to trip.

Evil Poem

Board games bore you
TV rots your brain
Yoga does nothing for you
Knitting makes you insane

Puzzles stump you
Smokes make you cough
Candy plumps you
Phone sex can't get you off

And good songs only
Make you think
That you're so lonely
You might as well drink.

Yes, of course, Dorothy Parker.