Catskill Scruples (or the Locomotion of Destiny)

I hear a church bell ringing deep into the night
It rumbles all the windowed widows, crashing, crashing...
The sounds begin to ECHO (echo), breathing - -
gasping - -
SLASHING through the sky!

The bells have changed, they're pistons now
Scraping metal wheels and puffing steam into the air
The thunder of the railway line leaves
only those
who want to hear
the march of all
the industries and
as the train moves
down the track you
feel your teeth
begin to rattle
feel the power
of the engine
tumbling fortune
bold decision
and as the sound
begins to fade
the awe of it
begins to fade
the thunderclap
begins to fade
and the train
begins to fade

into the horizon.

Candles Lit Inside the Empty Pane

Who could think that thunder can be stolen fast?
Forever bottled, sold, as all things that pass?
The politician bleeds upon the floor
Living like a soldier without war
His life is flashing on the silver screen
Screaming all along the Aventine

Should not all who speak be made to think?
Do not all who gamble surely take a drink?
The undertaker dreams of greater things
Scrambling in the presence of the kings
As he shovels dirt into the hole
Where your body lays without a soul

Are the sins of others our burden to bear?
Sitting in a prison cell with graying hair?
The warden breaks the hands of the thief
Who promises to turn another leaf
Upon the tree of life, he's crucified
And only the old warden knows he's died

My inspiration

Arch-angels are laughing at me

Death isn't some chain-wielding biker with a flaming skull.
Death is an old man in a hospice bed struggling to breathe.
Life isn't climbing Mount Everest.
Life is counting your change at the drive-thru.
Heaven isn't a cloudy paradise.
Heaven is her gentle fingertips
Hell isn't a fiery pit.
Hell is how easily you've given up.

I'm not who you want me to be.
I'm who I am.

maybe both

am I vulnerable
or am I venerable

are you caustic
or are you costly

are we haughty
or are we happy


strap on a pair of wings
let's go fishing for
eternal happiness?

disassemble me
look at my clockwork chaos
and tell me you love me

i need to know
if you are cosmic
or if you are a dancer

A Love Letter to the Lady Gaza

Say hello, hello
To the brand new world
Say hello, hello
To the brand new year
Say hello, hello
To liberty
Say hello, hello
To democracy

Oh, the rocket's red flare...

Not a refugee camp, it's an--
Did you hear the explosion?

Rather, Democrats,
Unequivocally support this strategy
(Because you can't fire a nuke from a slum
No air strikes in Iran though, please)

Sizzle, sizzle, smoke and flame
Thus the school shall go
Crackle, simmer, boast and blame
Necessary. Unfortunate.

And as a child's blood
mingles with the sand
You wonder:
This is the Holy Land?

Roughshod Meandering

Flamenco strings bellow in my ears
As I remember all of those years--
Well, no, I remember shame, distrust
Precipitation, slander, lies and lust
The frozen hand of hidden shame...
That's what I remember of your game.

Idiosyncratic truths burnt on your head
Emphatic that the soothing past shall lay dead
In its grave so cleanly dug
By all the scandal, sex, and drugs
I feel my love begin to drain...
As a consequence of your little game.

The poisoned cups and toxic air that you breathe
Coupled with the coupling you readily receive
Pencil in your persona, quick--
Before they all see through your trick
And then you'll hold yourself in pain...
Only you can see the point of your game.

Ah, but you had it all worked out so nice
Take what you want and ignore my advice
Vice, so tempting, shall be your redoubt
In the face of the traditions you flout
No, I've never been one to be so plain...
But I refuse to play along with your game.

The Ballad of Bertrand and Emmelyne

The lonesome meadowlark perched on the branch of yew
Coos sweet mystic melodies to the Wandering Jew
Who, travelling to the village where tombstone sailors lie
Hopes to cast off his curse, hands groping at the sky
With rugged look and hat and coat stolen from the hole
And with the name of Gabriel sewn upon his soul
This tempter, this traveler, this diplomat of night
Consumed by phantom flames and hideous to sight
Is ready, so he thinks, to seize his life again
And so, in slumber's shadow, he fills his life with sin

Inside the slums of the village where he hopes to go
Sits Emmelyne, the lady with a heart that none can know
With scarlet hair and pouting lips, with rivers in her eyes
Emmelyne, eternal, wraps the winter 'round her thighs
For, though she loves not snowy banks nor memories of cold
The empty air can fill the void of the life she sold
When cast upon the daggers of daylight's crawling climb
Her voice is like a violin, her laughter is like chimes
The peasants of the village all shower her with presents
As Emmelyne declines them, her face becomes unpleasant

Bertrand Baker, born to Quakers, burns with heavy guilt
He stitches all his life into shining patchwork quilt
With pastel dreams of purity, of glory, and of lace
Bertrand is consumed with visions of a woman's grace
He knows her face, her sultry voice, her smile and her tongue
But her name is lost to him, the note that is unsung
On wintery nights, he holds his palms near the open flame
Imagining that she is near, her touch and breath untamed
Yet winds of loss and tides of truth steal this quiet rite
And Bertrand Baker shuffles off into the winter night

Upon the hill are those who preach, the morose gang of monks
Proponents of great zealotry, opponents of the drunks
Among their rank emerges one, their leader, Father John
Who treats the peasants ruthlessly and sells them for a song
With harvest gone and monks withdrawn, he settles for some grain
And gorges on the gifts and tithes shuttled from the plain
Those who hunger, those who thirst, the helpless flock of lambs
Are sacrifices for the success of God's unyielding plans
To Father John and to the monks, the world is nearly cleansed
And the monks are unaware of all the Father's sins

With guarded hate and harried gait comes Gabriel's approach
As a donkey hauls his cart, he seems beyond reproach
For though his painted face reveals a sinister design
He shares his oils and elixirs for a meager fine
And Emmelyne, with her hopes slung across her shoulder
Buys a potion, takes a drink, becoming even colder
Kaleidoscopes of memory slither down her spine
As snakelike people take her blood and paint a silver sign
Bertrand, walking to the square where Gabriel now stood,
Sees his love, pale Emmelyne, on a bench of wood

Noting that her river eyes are swirling, swelling, swallowed
He takes the potion from her hand and sees her soul is hollow
Grabbing Gabriel with force and thrusting him aside
He searches for the antidote to save sweet Emmelyne
Quietly escaping from the ruckus of the square,
Gabriel repaints his face and dyes his silver hair
Father John and his monks arrive to place the blame
And put to death Bertrand Baker by unholy flame
And as sweet Emmelyne awakes from her drugged state
Gabriel, now far away, laughs at Bertrand's fate.