SHAKESPEARE DOESN'T WORK HERE ANY MORE:

POETRY AND PLAYS BY DANIEL RICHARD FRUIT



On to Part Two: The Plays
Back to the Introduction

DEDICATIONS

I dedicate this volume to: my father, without whom my fictional career would not be possible; Sue Kellstrom, whose best writing has been shared only with me and her closet; every student who ever enjoyed one of my classes; every person who ever formed the model for one of my characters, whether he or she is aware of it or not; my cat, Mittens, who often makes more meaningful poetry than I do; and, of course, Shakespeare, the model for us all,



Coming out of the trees to shock you...


These are fantastic works of creative writing. Any resemblance between these works and those of better authors are purely intentional.

COLLECTORS' EDITION

Copyright 1991 by Daniel Richard Fruit

Published by the House of Witney, Barnie, and Laramie, Quite Limited.

THE TERMINAL POET

He came in an hour early every day,
And cleared his desk of all its files.
So he handled all those extra cases,
Dumped upon him by their wiles.
Through it all he talked about the "team."
Until I knew, some day, he'd get the ream.

Chorus:
They're dropping all his speeches in the fire;
Hauling his boxes of books through the doors.
We've a space that's opening up for hire
'Cause Shakespeare, doesn't work here, anymore.

He never really learned to write a memo,
His prose refused the boundaries of fact.
He'd write a metaphysical treatise
And never attained that iced clinical tact.
I knew he'd leave a traceable paper trail
That they could use to fry his tail.

They must've warned him half a dozen times
That his personality had to stay within bounds,
He shouldn't show those customers his rhymes,
Or for his dismissal, they'd have the grounds.
He insisted, somehow, that he could handle all,
And now, I laugh, to watch this angel's fall.
(Chorus)

How dare he circulate a memo mentioning me,
As though I'd support one of his grandiose plans.
Was it something about changing young society
I don't know; I don't support his demands.
When it comes right down to it, I know the rules,
And anyone who plays god is one of the fools.

So now I'll write a memo of termination.
You can give him two weeks of severance pay.
Let him see what comes of his determination,
To try and run morality his own peculiar way.
He should've tried to listen to us all along,
For procedure functions here as right and wrong.
(Chorus)

So now I'm watching him clearing out his things.
Packing up the stuff to give us back our space.
His eyes are spinning like helicopters wings,
He looks for guidance printed on my face.
Fly off, you lonesome bird, too free for strife.
It's time you learned, peacock, the poetry of life.

They're dropping all his speeches in the fire;
Hauling his boxes of books through the doors.
We've a space that's opening up for hire,
'Cause Shakespeare, doesn't work here, anymore.
TABLE OF CONTINENTS: SNAPSHOTS
00.The Terminal Poet p. 02
0. TABLE OF CONTINENTS: SNAPSHOTS p. 03
i. INTRODUCTION: UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED p. 06

I. AN EDUCATION OR THOUGHTS OF A THIRTY-YEAR-OLD CHILD
A. Reading, Writing, and ? p. 07
B. Taggets p. 07
C. The Vampires p. 08
D. Gangsters p. 09
E. Graduate Studies p. 09
F. Tomorrow's Children p. 10

II. GUAM: SCENES FROM ANOTHER STRESSFUL VACATION
A. Traveling Crisis p. 11
B. Agana: The Capital p. 12
C. The Taggets Are Back p. 12
D. Life as an Idiot Light p. 12
E. Same To Your Family, Too p. 12
F. Guam p. 13

III. WARPOEMS: BLOOD AND OIL
A. Pink Tanks! p. 14
B. Terminal Illness p. 14
C. The Will of ? p. 15

IV. ICED COFFEE AND SUSHI: SCENES FROM JAPAN
A. The Great Buddha of Kamakura p. 16
B. It Isn't Like It's Supposed To Be p. 17
C. I Never Found the Monastery p. 17
D. Three Pagodas, Five Stories, and Kodak p. 17
E. Temples of Gold and Silver p. 18
F. Karma Korn p. 18
G. That Kyoto Girl p. 19
H. I Talk to the Deer (Nara) p. 19
I. Emperor Go-Daigo p. 20
J. Highway 16 (Outside Tokyo) p. 21

V. YOU AND I: REFLECTIONS
A. You and I p. 22
B. '73 Chrysler Imperial p. 22
C. Sleepwalker p. 24
D. "Saved" p. 25
E. The Farthest Frontier p. 26
F. Kodochrome and Station Wagons p. 26
G. The Electric Blanket p. 27
H. It Doesn't Hurt So Long as It Rhymes p. 28

VI. KOREA: TEA YUL MU
A. It's All In Your Head p. 29
B. Between Masterpieces p. 31
C. Korea Will Not Be Another Japan p. 32
D. And the Little Tigers Say..... p. 33
G. Pep Talk p. 34
H. It's Easy to Love You (Version #1) p. 35
I. The Spiders p. 36

VII. THE LAST OF THE ROMANTICS
A. The Last of the Romantics p. 37
B. Future Farmers of the Stone Desert p. 38
C. Easy to Love You (Version #2) p. 38
D. The Vanishing Red Man p. 39
E. Ball of Emotions p. 39
F. Irony Man p. 40
G. Sleep p. 40
H. Stone Cold Lover p. 41
I. Is That All It Takes? p. 42

VIII. SINGAPORE: SPICES AND FURS
A. Tiger's Song p. 43
B. At the Moslem Mosque (Golden Temple) p. 44
C. Ying and Yang p. 44
D. Singapore p. 45

IX. SONGS OF THE INCOMPETENT
A. Songs of the Incompetent p. 46
B. Across the River: A Reggae p. 47
C. Can You Teach Me How to Rock N Roll? p. 48
D. Home Alone: A Ballad p. 50
E. Back From the Dead: A Headbanger p. 51
F. I'm Not As Old As I Used To Be p. 52
G. Leave Them Boys Alone: A Honky Tonk p. 54
H. The Schoolteaching Blues p. 55
I. My Wife Left Me...And My Dog Died p. 56
J. The Little Drummer Boy p. 56
K. The Nerd Rap p. 58
L. You Didn't Teach ME how to Rock &Roll p. 59
M. Talk To Me Like That p. 60
N. Fragments of Time p. 62

X. PHILIPPINES
A. Manila, December 21, 1991 p. 63
B. On Maribongo Beach p. 63
C. Marcos and Imelda p. 64
D. The Beggar Boys p. 64
E. The War With the Roaches p. 65
F. The Wonder of the Filipina p. 66
G. Buy Your Soul p. 67

XI. FIVE EASY PIECES: A TEENAGE DRAMA
A. Cast List and Scene One p. 68
B. Scene Two p. 71
C. Scene Three p. 73
D. Scene Four p. 76
E. Scene Five p. 79

XII. SON OF RAPMAN: A COMEDY
A. Cast List and Scene One p. 82
B. Scene Two p. 85

XIII. YOU CAN CALL MY ANDY: A TRAGEDY
A. Cast List and Scene One p. 89
B. Scene Two p. 92
C. Scene Three p. 94
D. Scene Four p. 96
E. Scene Five p. 98
F. Scene Six p.100

XIV. RAPMAN RETURNS: A COMEDY
A. Cast List and Scene One p.103
B. Scene Two p.107
C. Scene Three p.109

XV. THE ART OF THE PRIMITIVE: A STAGED FANTASY
A. Cast List and Scene One p.112
B. Scene Two p.114
C. Scene Three p.116
D. Scene Four p.117
E. Scene Five p.122
F. Scene Six p.125

XVI. TAKING THE LONG WAY HOME: A MORALITY PLAY
A. Cast List and Scene One p.131
B. Scene Two p.134
C. Scene Three p.136
D. Scene Four p.137
E. Scene Five p.140

XVII. THE HAPPY ENDING: A FARCE
A. Cast List and Scene One p.141
B. Scene Two p.143
C. Scene Three p.145
D. Scene Four p.147
E. Scene Five p.148

XVIII. CLOSING REMARKS FROM THE BENCH
A. About the Author p.151
B. On Christmas Eve p.153


**********************************************
I. INTRODUCTION: UNSAFE AT ANY SPEED
***********************************************

Within the last cycle, a small number of square, synthetically produced, objects have been found. While archanalyzers initially conjectured that the objects served as some kind of "food" for the humans of the time, a more thorough analysis showed that the objects contained a primitive coding recorded on a thin strip of artificially- produced black material. It took almost a year to decipher the archaically simple pattern encoded on the object, called a "disc" and, due to its somewhat illogical nature, a considerably longer period of time to translate the "primitive" language into a numerical pattern . All this work, however, proved to be worthwhile as it yielded the most significant literary find of the century: genuine examples of the so-called "Middle Literature."

The "Middle Literature" existed in the years of the late 20th century, between the eras of human composition and before the era of computer composition. In this transitional period, it is thought that men actually composed with the assistance of the computer and not the other way around. Since this is the only surviving work, it must be assumed that the author, a Mr. Daniel R. Fruit, was indeed famous, and that his work is representative of the genre.

In order to give the full flavor of this particular work, the entire has been reproduced in the original, untranslated form and a mechalogicalscan translation packet placed inside the "cover." Naturally, since these humans used languages, long since eliminated for logical flaws, such as "English," "Chaldean," and "Parmanean," this was a rather uncertain form on communication. You will see certain words in the works here, for example, used in ways that are ambiguous. In "Christmas Eve," it is never made entirely clear what the "it" is that is being given away.

The work as a whole is, in fact, tinged with ambiguity. Did this so-called "Rapman" really exist? If so, was he some kind of a vigilante who worked with the police in those trouble time? Did anyone actually perform poetry in order to stop crime?

Thrusting such questions aside, there are two main areas of critical consideration: the poems and the plays. The poems are riddled with mathematical errors, aborted images, and bizarrities. Just one example should suffice: "Chrysler Imperial." With rare good judgment, the central character is, in fact, a machine. Yet the machine seems mistreated by the humans and, worse yet, abandoned for no apparent reason at the end of the poem. I've seen the opposite situation often, but never a human deserting a machine. Also it's not clear who or what the "Lord" is quoted in the poem.

The plays present a whole different set of problems. They contain a series of "stage directions." This would seem to suggest that humans, and not electronic images, actually performed the plays. This is, of course, patently illogical. Why would anyone employ a human actor, whose potential for errors are obvious, when a simulation would perform so much better?

Finally, then, the works of this "Daniel R. Fruit" provided more puzzles than they solve. Undoubtedly each of us will need to network our circuits together and absorb stronger programs in order to penetrate the mystery. At least, we do know one thing. The "Shakespeare" quoted in the title of the book was, in fact, a minor poet from the era of Old Literature. Unfortunately none of his or her works have survived.

By E1756854343F1988A

*****************************************************
I. AN EDUCATION
OR THOUGHTS OF A THIRTY-YEAR-OLD CHILD
*****************************************************

READING, WRITING, AND ?
(or a seventh grade view on education)

Don't tell me the answer:
Don't tell me if I'm right;
Don't tell me if I'm wrong;
Tell me that you see me.

Don't give me assignments:
Don't give me a ditto sheet;
Don't give me a study guide;
Just give me an approving smile.

Don't dismiss me with the bell:
Don't wave me through the door;
Don't glance through piles of papers;
Just let me know that I was here.


TAGGETTS

You can call me "Joel,"
But I write my name as "ghost."
I wrote it over there, but
Don't saaaay, you know it's me.

I've got my markers on the bus;
I'm coloring my piece,
You look at me and frown. Please,
Don't saaaay, you know it's me.

I'm scrubbing market walls.
The policeman watches me
Erasing ghostlines but
Don't saaaay, you know it's me.

Well now it's time to change.
Now you can call me......
Never mind, it'll be around, but
Don't saaaay, you know it's me.



THE VAMPIRES*
(or the perils of being an adolescent overachiever)

It's one o'clock as the hour crawls,
You can see them creeping down the halls.
They're ready to grab you, pierce your skin:
It's the Vampires, and they want to suck you in.

They can walk through trees, penetrate walls,
They like to shop at the cheaper malls.
You might see them walking in any place,
They wear corduroy or leather or lace.

They live on blood that's red and ripe,
And listen for gossip or other tripe,
They've traveled lands where bullets strike the breast,
But they like the rarer blood of Americans best.

They're right beside you on your left or right,
Who says that evil only travels around at night.
They stand over your shoulder and chuckle and wait;
They've got plenty of time, so it's never too late.

Oh, don't say that you don't mean those words,
About "stuck up people" and supposed "nerds."
It's too late:; the wound has opened wide;
A scream covers her face, but it's too late to hide.

How to vanquish these creature from this room?
Cook something with garlic (that's supposed to doom).
But then somebody would only comment about the smell,
And the vampires would laugh and enjoy it all too well.

Perhaps a steak could drive right through their hearts?
No, I'm afraid that that's just beyond my arts.
I say a word that pierces some adolescent's pride;
The vampires swoop in and hang on for the ride.

So perhaps I'm doomed to hear these creatures screeches;
They see the blood exposed, latch unto words like leeches,
For they feed on jealousy and mistrust, I hope you see,
And when I'm not careful, sometimes they possess me.

It's one o'clock as the hour crawls.
You see them creeping down the halls.
They're ready to grab you, pierce your skin:
It's the Vampires, and they want to suck you in.

*In a democracy, one suffers the tyranny of the neighbors.


GANGSTERS

Pant cuffs slung below my shoes,
I haven't worn a belt in years.
My t-shirt's nicely creased:
"Don't touch me!"

My homeboys like to slick their hair,
Their names are thrown on that wall.
They walk to school with me and snarl:
"Don't touch me!"

Policeman shoves me 'gainst the car.
He wants to know my momma's name.
And takes away my knife. I say, "Essay,
Don't touch me!"

Back pressed against graffiti lines
Bullets hit me through the chest:
I'm bleeding magic marker. "Oh, please:
Don't touch me!"


GRADUATE STUDIES
Or A Poetic Analysis of the Factors Contributing To
Intellectual Burnout Among Graduate Students

Looking down intensely at the keyboard,
Hearing the song of the college chapel,
And the sound of rich kids getting drunker-
Popping piles of Quaaludes with their girlfriends,
Fading sounds to form a counterpoint to
Beethoven's Ninth blasting from my mono.
I bought it for fifteen bucks at Goodwill,
But it's like the Cleveland Symphony tonight.
My roommate has passed out, immune to clacking.
Still, the maestro plays his triumphal chord:

And I can type a thousand miles;
I can mine a million quotes;
But if you're looking for the truth,
My friend,
It's lost somewhere in my notes.

Deep in the bowels of the Bloomington library,
In the cafeteria, where the graduate students meet,
An informal discussion is taking place about,
The merits of Perrier and the works of Brahms,
But I'm not there!
I'm huddled o'er my manual keyboard, pounding truth,
The boy wonder of American Studies Program land,
Listening to the Doors' tunes phophesizing doom,
Telling of Henry James, who imagined living,
And wrote about a life he'd lived if alive.
Is that the sound of his laugher, or the keyboard,
Or the gargoyles laughing inside my head?:

And I can type a thousand miles;
I can mine a million quotes;
But if you're looking for the truth,
My friend,
It's lost somewhere in my notes.

The voices chant a Japanese goodwill, goodnight,
That sets a tranquil tone over quiet Fussa City.
I can't sleep, iced coffee curses through my veins;
My computer clacks a cacophonic tunes as it strikes,
And sputters to reproduce yet another annotated page,
And spits out another monumental statement,
About ending adolescence and protests washed away.

And I can type a thousand miles;
I can mine a million quotes;
But if you're looking for the truth,
My friend,
It's lost somewhere in my notes.

Somewhere I know there's a little boy who wants,
To talk about ships that sail the stars,
And men so great their names jump off the pages,
But he's not out there telling his story tonight.
Instead he's looking through a pile of photostatic sources,
And thinking:
I'm gonna be someone...I'm gonna be someone...
Wondering who it was that said:
"The truth shall set you free."
He sighs:

And I can type a thousand miles;
I can mine a million quotes;
But if you're looking for the truth,
My friend,
It's here somewhere in my notes.


TOMORROW'S CHILDREN
(The Teachers' Hope)

I'm gonna build me a bright tomorrow,
That can stand up beneath a burning sun.
I might end up with a billion,
But I'm going to start with just one.

I'm gonna make it so high I can touch the sky,
With hands that can handle the truth,
You'll see the wrinkled lines of experience,
On the wondering faces of youth.

I'll reach up beyond the world of planes and cars,
But, it's your fingers that will move the stars.

*******************************************************
II. GUAM: SCENES FROM A STRESSFUL VACATION
*******************************************************


TRAVELING CRISIS

Where are my passports?
I'm so stressed out I could scream.
I hit my hands hard on the ground,
What the Hell did I do with...
A shattering of my mind.
I'm too old for this.

I'm walking to the Fussa Gate.
I'll just cruise on through
On my bike to the station.
Damn it doesn't open till five!
A chilly ride around the base,
My mind must've been in a sling.
I'm just too old for this.

Sitting on the Shinjuku express,
I'm supposed to get there by three.
The tickets say "seven" not "fifteen,"
Just another stress fracture,
A minor mental infrustration.
Am I too old for this?

I get off the plane, flag a cab.
It's supposed to take me to the base.
I give them the wrong name
And watch $38 dollars tick away.
Then I take a cab to the right base,
And watch $40 dollars tick away.
I take my gear to the front desk
And realize I left my wallet on the seat,
And it'll cost $50 to get it back.
These trips are so relaxing!
I must be too old for this.

Stop and breathe the morning.
I'm jogging through a cloud of moisture,
My back starts to soak,
And I take off my shirt
And feel the warm rain
Coming down like a warm caress.
The stress of traveling.
By God I'm too old for this.


AGANA: THE CAPITAL

So small I missed it.
I drove through the main drag,
And followed the signs to:
Agana.
It's supposed to be capital,
But I needed a map
Just to find I'd passed it,
Agana.

THE TAGGETS ARE BACK!

On the Wall of Ypao Beech,
The centerpoint of touristry,
There's a little sign in marker.
"Tagging Posse: Number Eight."
The Taggetts are back.

LIFE AS AN IDIOT LIGHT

When you turn the key,
Five different lights flash on.
Cryptic little pictures of:
Lights and blocks and triangles;
A square little dot with terminals;
A square circle with both ends red;
A little car with door ajar....
What does it all mean,
What does it signify?
Like the idiot, I don't know.


SAME TO YOUR FAMILY, TOO

Driving down the highway forty-five,
This thick-necked Cholo stares
As he hands me "the finger"
As he peers through my windshield.
I smile stupidly and say:
"Tu Guama, Tu Guama, Tu Guam."
That smile on mine unfuriates.
I can hear his words,
Screaming obscenely above my stereo.
"Tu Guama," I say, "Tu Guam!"
As he disappears into the lane,
I'm smiling more than before.
In fact, I can hardly hold the wheel.
"Tu Guama," I say, "Tu Guam!"

GUAM

Beleaguered and besieged,
A tiny piece of dirt,
Sheltered by the Pacific,
And cleaned by hurricanes,
Conquistadores by the Spanish,
And samaried by the Japanese,
Too small to distract most men;

Not free from broadcasts,
Satellite blasts from Los Angeles,
A steady diet of Cerritos Ford,
And Cal Worthington ("Go see Cal....")
That can sweep life away
Until all seems dead as Hollywood.

It's the fifteen-year-old girls,
That buy the records by Kapena,
A Hawaiian commercialized Polynesian,
That sings the songs of "true love,"
In English with lingering accents.
Their mothers all shop the 7-11,
And buy the Nissans if they can,
'Cause nothing grows on trees these days.

************************************
III. WARPOEMS: BLOOD FOR OIL
**************************************

PINK TANKS!
(The Technicolor War Machine)

Pink tanks dotted with polka dots,
Poring across a sandy dune plain,
Spewing forth bouquets of flowers,
Planting bulbs of love across the pain.

The angry plains, circle overhead like flies,
Buzzing around the hills of red,
An echoing cry, like cinnamon,
That spices all the words they've said:

"Profit-Prophet.
Allah-all-ahhhh.
Death-deaf.
Mordor-Murder
Bomb-bum."

But the tune that whispers cries in blue,
Enslaved in bars, lined in black and white,
The planes can dance, feeding on the carrion,
The colors will just fade off into the night.

But in mourning,
Pink tanks, dotted with polka dots,
Will lumber forward, slyly, anyway.
Dropping seeds of mustard yellow,
To meet the mushroomed clouds of day.


TERMINAL ILLNESS?

Injected by needle in the body,
Or foistered up a million anusses,
Snorted in the nose or take orally,
It starts its fatal cycle quietly.

There are those few warning signs:
The marks on the arms, red crayoned,
A ringing in the ears like shotgun blasts,
Poisoned cells circulating like bums.

Don't take a look in that mirror!
You might see the sickness behind the eyes.
Take a couple of more metamphetamines,
And wash it down with a dose of scarlet bourbon.

One cell dies here and there, and what difference?
There must be three hundred million more;
Even a brain can be treated by a lobotomy,
Science says that it can fix a defective heart.

Maybe something can be done to stop that bloodflow,
Try applying more of that green and yellow bile.
There are certain techniques of chemotherapy and what,
But why do those hands insist on shaking.

Well, just put on some of those beautiful clothes.
Paint the lines away with gobs of cheerful makeup.
And watch careful so that you don't give away a sign,
Maybe no one else will notice if you don't notice,

And it will go away?


THE WILL OF?
Or on Watching Bagdad Bombed on TV

Load those bows with ballistic arrows;
Duel tracked, armored, four-man chariots
Scorch into dust another enemy encampment.
That could've been me.

White walls, a stone's throw from Babylon,
The city of those hot, liquid, Arabian nights,
Will add another, wasted, layer to their rubble.
And it would've been me.

A young generation microwaves its rhetoric,
Marx as presented by the Marquis de Saddam,
Like wheat, they're just tall enough for scythes.
And they might've gotten me.

An image on the television screen,
Abstracted focus like an illuminated Koran,
A map with blinking lights, not burning fires.
Shouldn't that be me?

Pick up all the pieces, warranties on tanks are void.
Sweep away those images of Nebachanezzar.
Pulverize, we infidels, the mosques of mustard gas.
By God, why isn't that me?

*********************************************************
IV. ICED COFFEE AND SUSHI: SCENES FROM JAPAN
*********************************************************

THE GREAT BUDDHA OF KAMAKURA*

Well? Talk to me Buddha,
And give me some of your supposed wisdom.
I've no wish to enter a monkery,
But you're required to hear my prayer.
For I have come a thousand years,
And it is you must take me home.

You teach the root of Evil is desire.
Then I'm as rotten as a man can be.
You see, I want a metal heart like yours,
So I can sit here wanting: nothing.
I'm kneeling, lotusform, before you.
But again, I say, my time is green.

You smile so damn serenely,
Thirty-five feet of grace and love.
I wish I could give as you give
And not always be out to take and take.
"Amada," see, I'm meditating.
But Master you must strike this pupil.

You talk of paths to forgetfulness.
I see only tourist tracks and cameras.
They crowd your step, block visions,
"Click, click..." till I could almost scream.
They wander in and through your chest.
I smile because you never show your pain.

The masses will be leaving you tonight,
Desert you to this cold November.
And me, I've got a wide tomorrow,
I've so many foreign worlds to see.
I know you'll stay for them to look for you.
It's okay, Buddha, I can carry you home.

*Greatness is relative. Note: in traditional Zen meditation, the neophyte sits cross-legged in the so-called "Lotus position," repeating one word or phrase until his thoughts of the world fade. In Japan, the word is often "Amada," another name for Buddha. A master will often circulate and strike the unwary pupil to set the depth of concentration or lack thereof. This poem was originally printed in the Stevenson Junior High School SPYGLASS.


IT ISN'T LIKE IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE (Kyoto)

They quadron off the temples,
Donate them half a block or two,
And line the edges with coffee machines.
It isn't like it's supposed to be.

Riddling long the Path of Philosophy,
A scholars' rendezvous for centuries,
A parade of intrusive little shops.
It isn't like it's supposed to be.

When the sunset sets, the shops that sell
Kimonos and tin Buddhas and fans
Might as well be in Tokyo or Shinjuku.
That's not what it's supposed to be.

Red trees for temples
Maidens kissing samurai,
Moon sky, arched of gold.
It's still isn't what it's supposed to be.

I NEVER FOUND THE MONASTERY

Those lusty monks from Mount Hiei
Protected the capital from demons that fly.
They descended when their "rights" seemed threatened
And taught the emperors and shoguns a lesson.

Real masculine men, these monks,
They wore robes, like boxing trunks.
And abbots traditionally had royal blood,
Yet weren't afraid to "mix it" in the mud.
But me, I never saw them.

You see, I followed my Fodor's Guide,
That insisted there was a train to ride.
I tried three times to find the stop,
But never located a route to the top.

Four hours later, nine hundred yen dead,
I tossed the book on the asphalt ground.
"They did much better writing 'bout the Rhine,"
And then I thought I heard a voice behind:

A chorus of men's voice raised in song,
Jabbing quarterstaffs as they marched along,
On the road to see the Emperor in Kyoto
And chase mischievous demons through the snow.

THREE PAGODAS, FIVE STORIES, AND KODAK
TEMPLES OF GOLD AND SILVER
(Two Famous Kyoto Palaces And Temples)

These emperors, they had it all:
Nice artificial lakes and villas
A lot of kimoned cuties saying "Hi"
And when they died, well:

The villas became temples,
For worship of their former lord,
A god in life, pretty well off dead.

Kinkakuji's covered with golden foil,
Ginkakuji's wrapped with silver,
Photo ops to last the centuries.

What can we common folk make of this?
We can take a Kodak ectichrome or two.
We can build a jigsaw puzzle or model.

The silver plate is gone;
The golden, never gold.

KARMA KORN*

A wooden arch curved in a
An shape that means shrine or temple,
Why does it remind me of St. Louis?
I had a bad box of karma today.

There's a little dipper for the water,
I wonder if they clean those pipes,
Toss a one yen coin inside the pool,
And here's looking at you Buddha.

I take my shoes off at the counter,
And slip into a pair of sandals.
"Clog! Clog!" this must be Zen torture.
I hope they don't see holes in my socks.

A garden made from fifteen rocks
A stream represented by gravel lines.
Well, they must save on water bills.
"Wait-a revelation:
One of the rocks is missing!"

How much did they charge me at the gate?
Fifteen rocks for three hundred yen.
That's more than I paid for breakfast.
I must have enough merit for a merit badge.
Maybe that's the truth-all merit fades,
Just like the dollar and my stress pattern.
Oh I must've had a bad box of karma today.

*Ryoanji Temple has a famous Zen meditation garden containing fifteen stones, but arranged so only fourteen can be seen from any angle.

THAT KYOTO GIRL

Long dark hair thats meant for curls,
A height that towers from slenderness,
White skin unenhanced by any powder:
A rustling of fans, the old Kyoto girl.

Her curlered hair the product of spraycans
Long legs, encased in black nylons,
Short shorts, and a New York hairdo:
Jumping on the subway, the new Kyoto girl.

I TALK TO THE DEER (Nara)*

I was walking through this koen in Nara,
Where they allow the deer to roam at will,
(A Shinto god had this thing for antlers)
When I heard this silly bleating sound.

I looked down and said:
"Did you say that?"
The well-fed deer, he blinked,
his brown eyes, and shrugged.

"I wonder what you'd say if you could really talk?"
"Bleet, bleet," it said.

All through the temples,
Past wooden giants of Kokuju,
The temples of March and June,
These silly deer kept walking;

Their brown stomachs bulged
From all the food the tourists fed;
Workers threw them scraps.
The grounds were ground with pellets.

As I got to the gateway,
I viewed the temple grounds.
They'd put no fence.
The deer can leave at any time,
But I doubt they ever will.

I looked into his marble eyes,
He started to flee when I took
Out my trusty Kodak 1-2-6;
I slipped and dropped it to the ground.

"Bleet bleet?" I said.
"Bleet bleet," he answered.
"I wonder what you would say if you could really talk?"

*Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan and littered with temples from the otherworldly Buddhist sects of the ninth and eight century.


EMPEROR GO-DAIGO*

Emperor Go-Daigo, old man of thirty-one,
Studying the countenance shown in the mirror,
With lines carved deep by ancient ceremony
And caressed by those snow white concubines.
Your room is filled with worthless golden baubles
And colored robes of precious Chinese silk.
You hold a paper soiled in roughened characters,
Brought by a messenger in blackened armor,
That says the Regent "requests" that you retire,
Devote your remaining time to poetry and prayer.

And do you need to turn the world around,
And turn it ally upside-down?
Do you wanna be
The hand
That holds
The sword?

Like wet rice fields, they till the Imperial house.
They breed the finest crop and tend to the produce
And shower the plants with cool water and manure.
But rice is reserved for the warriors and nobles:
The peasants eat the millet and hoarded stubble,
The emperor's drink is served in golden sake cups,
All filled with emptiness.

Emperor Go-Daigo, young man of fifty-two,
Your castle's stuffed with battle hardened warriors
Who've grown familiar with blood and fights and flights.
Your armored sons die battling, calling out your name,
But in the hallways you hear your generals' sneer.
Rough, tanned country girls serve up a heavy drink.
They'd only dreamed that they could serve a living God,
And they'll wonder all their lives about Kyoto.
Green mountains, instead of temples, dot your horizons.
You've told them all the jewels you bare are real,
But alone at nights, you shake your head and wonder.

And do you want to turn the world around,
And make it ally upside-down?
Do you wanna be
The hand
That holds
The sword?

*Emperor Go-Daigo (1301-1353) led a revolt that brought down the ruling Hojo Regency. Until Go-Daigo's time, the Emperors had contented themselves with ruling in name only. Each Emperor would ascend for a short time, abdicate to a younger relative, and then retire to live on a nice income and ostensibly devote himself to religion. Their lives, when in office, were mostly filled with playing parts in rituals.

The Hojo Regents, in Kamakura, actually ruled the country through a feudal hierarchy of knights. The Regents sent orders through the Shogun to the Emperors who then reissued them in their own name.

Go-Daigo was not content to retire or be a puppet. Through a series of maneuvers, he instigated a civil war between different groups of nobles, and the Hojo house was completely destroyed. He managed to actually rule in his own name (1331-1336) and tried to usher in some genuine reforms. His ineptitude, partly due to inexperience, soon forced a retreat to the province of Yoshino.

From Yoshino, Go-Daigo's generals of the "Southern Court" fought a civil war against the dominant "Northern Court" under the Ashikaga House. Go-Daigo's sons became genuine military leaders, and the Southern Court lasted in Yoshino about seventy years. Go-Daigo at one point surrendered the "regalia," the symbols of his office, to Takauji, military dictator of the Northern Court. Later, it was claimed that those were fakes and that the actual regalia were in Yoshino. This is important because the Emporership was, after all, considered partly as a religious office. This forced the civil wars to continue until the Southern Court gave up its claims in 1369.

HIGHWAY 16 (Outside Tokyo)

It's five o clock in the morning,
Again I can't get to sleep.
They've got their appointments to keep.
Where is that they're all going;
What is it that they've all seen,
Moving at five in the morning,
Hustling on the Route 16?

I'll bet they've got their cups of coffee,
On maps up their on their dashboards,
Listening to Buck Owens and Kazatias,
With their feet mashed into the floorboards.
Me, I just turn myself over,
My pillowcase has lost its silent sheen,
Driving fifty clicks at a standstill,
Dreaming of the Route 16.

The screech, like a cry of Valkyries,
Two motorcycles at two 'o' clock.
All the normal people have gone to sleep;
It's time for the rollers to rock.
Legs astride their little slingshots,
Playing out their teenage dreams,
Or those of middle class brokers,
Banking 'long the Route 16.

Where do all these people go each day?
Do they ever get off that tarmac?
Or do they drive in concentric circles,
Like Flying Dutchmen on their track.
And me I'm just wond'ring about dreaming,
And all of those that I've never seen,
And someday you'll find me out rolling,
Blasting on the Route 16.

**********************************
V. YOU AND I: REFLECTIONS
***********************************

YOU AND I*

Don't call me "stranger:"
My name you may forget,
Our lips have never touched,
And we have never met.

Don't call me "no one;"
I stand behind this face,
I have a name, a number,
A fragment carved from space.

Don't call me "stranger;"
I have a vision of the true.
If you want to meet the stranger,
I hold a mirror up for you.

*Originally printed in the 1991 edition of SUN 17.



'73 CHRYSLER IMPERIAL

I'm moving along a stately thirty-five,
'Cross the streets of muddy Saint Crow,
My factory metallic coat is painted red,
So faded that the bare steel can show.
But I'm rolling onward, you see,
As long as fingers have control of me.

Chorus 1:
My shocks are worn; my tires are bald.
Ice has scarred my shiny chrome to rust.
I'm just a Chrysler Imperial,
But, Lord, you can drive me into the dust.

My tires try to grip the wet November slush,
Brake stumble and grumble me to a stop.
Three men leave a building in a rush,
And sneer at my crumbling, vinyl top.
Jumping inside, they toss a heavy load;
Feeling so worn, I lumber back on the road.

We drive past a building with a pointed roof,
My suspension groans out my need to rest;
They shuffle past a comfortable parking lot,
The man is kicking my pedals with zest.
They drive past though bells that are ringing,
Like assembly line workers, laughing, singing:

Chorus 1:
My shocks are worn; my tires are bald.
Ice has scarred my shiny chrome to rust.
I'm just a Chrysler Imperial,
But, Lord, you can drive me into the dust.

They urge me off into some deserted fields,
Far even from the outskirts of town,
And now they laugh with genuine zeal,
As they park me on that barren ground.
They take the weight from the back seat bag,
And move it around by kick and by drag.

And now the men have left us two alone,
A limp form propped hard behind my wheel,
Fish eyes stare at the driving horizon,
His hands give a cold and clammy feel.
But now I'm journeying, forever freed,
Carve a highway amidst the choking weeds.

(Dear reader: How do you feel? If you are depressed, go on to chorus 2a. If you're feeling good, go on to chorus 2b. If you're a traditionalist, or just boring, read chorus 1 to finish this poem.

Chorus 1
My shocks are worn; my tires are bald.
Ice has scarred my shiny chrome to rust.
I'm just a Chrysler Imperial,
But, Lord, you can drive me into the dust.

Chorus 2a
My antenna's high, my wipers wink,
Shining light's reflected from my glittering chrome.
I'm a classic Chrysler Imperial,
And, Lord, you can drive me home.

Chorus 2b
My antennas rot, rats roam my seats,
No eyes watch my crumbling sides.
I'm soon to melt into the dying Earth,
Where all the scrap metal abides.




SLEEPWALKER

I see you, your hands out, Sleepwalker,
Striding along beneath a noon-high sky,
Not knowing the road you're going,
Not seeing or wondering why.

The lines collect before you like spots,
And connect like colored cartoon dots,
The sun washes over your face, so bold,
And fills your eyes with streaks of gold.

A day is a night is a long moment,
Yet to you it all seems so clear,
Your eyes are attuned to a song,
You're striding away from your fears.

I'm addressing you, asking:
"How can you walk through fields of mines?"
But no you just keep on going,
Your feet leaving dancing lines.

How can I warn of the scorch of the noon,
That the stars have all faded away,
For your eyes always see only the moon,
And your night is the same as your day.

But Oh, I say,
"Don't hear me talking,
Sleepwalker,
Just dream,
And keep on
walking."


"SAVED"
OR COMMENTS ON THE COMPUTER REVOLUTION

I trashed a disc the other day,
Before I could save my file,
That kept "profound material,"
I'd only copied over twice.

I keep my life on back-ups,
No program lacks for friends,
I photostat with relish,
And fear the broken copier.

Chorus:
Ooooh,
Clear the records from my cabinet;
Pawn the books that line my shelf;
With all the pasts I've sold,
I'll be lucky to save myself.

I am writing notes to me now,
I'll put them deep inside my "box,"
So that I can write them down again,
On my electric calendar.

I have procedures carefully designed,
To counteract all types of loss,
And when it's my time to end,
I'll leave a copy for posterity.

Interlude
Everybody...Push "apple" and "save"
Make that mouse squeak!
Yes, that's it. That's it. We're...
Saaaaaaaaaved.

I wrote a poem the other day,
And didn't revise a line,
A mailed it to a friend of mine,
And didn't keep a single word.

Ooooh,
Clear the records from my cabinet;
Pawn the books that line my shelf;
With all the pasts I've sold,
I'll be lucky to save myself.



THE FARTHEST FRONTIER*

I used to shudder out and cry.
Some nights I'd see a flicker,
Like the trailer of a movie;
And then the picture faded,
When the darkness came for me.

Some nights I'd wrestle with my mind,
Defend myself with coffee cups,
Black liquids, filled to the rim.
I'd keep it away for an evening,
But the darkness always wins.

Each night takes minutes more,
Bright images, dancing, singing,
Until I no longer can resist,
And feel its arms touch me,
Embracing in a lover's kiss.

And now another dim tunnel,
I hold my breath and close my eyes,
Prepared for all I'll see.
Each night I'm practicing.
Oh, darkness, come for me!

*I originally used then on an poetry test in which students had to identify the author. Students thought this might be by Whitman, Stevens, or Poe.

KODOCHROME AND STATION WAGONS

My mother used to point out some
Significant American cultural artifact,
We'd gone three hundred miles to see,
Two hours after the sun had set,
And explain her unwillingness,
To take a picture of that object,
saying:
"You can't light the world with one flash bulb."

My father would point out the window anyway,
And pull out some wrinkled free brochure,
From his back pocket's folded depths,
And ask the kids to be quiet and listen:
"You are never going to see this again...."

And I sat back there in the tailgate,
Surrounded by my toys and clothes,
Playing with my little sisters,
As the "scenic vistas" vanished,
Making up those odd songs and tales,
'Till all the artifacts were gone.
"You can't light the world with one flash bulb."



THE ELECTRIC BLANKET

When night calls out, and I am gone.
You'll laugh and wonder what is true.
Slam shut the windows, lock the door,
And wrap your 'lectric blanket 'round you.

Turn up the musical machines,
Play eight track tapes or forty-fives,
A solid wall of quadrophenic sound,
So rich it almost seems alive.

Turn on your computer's memory:
Nine hundred amplitudes of "K."
A beeper warns those files are blocked,
Until you "input time and day."

Replay those reruns on VCR,
Recount the dials you must adjust.
No metal here, just plastic sheet,
Synthetically immune to rust.

Blast radios and microwaves,
And strain your fuses 'till they burst,
Surround yourself with flying ions,
Spawn of 1,000 megahertz.

You'll hit the switches, pull the plug.
Light dies and wonders fade away.
In darkness you'll recall, perhaps,
That I'm far from here today.

So wrap yourself in warming clothes,
And taste the chilling air around.
Your 'lectric lover grips you soft,
And never makes a single sound.

When night calls out, and I am gone,
You'll laugh and wonder what is true.
Slam shut the windows, lock the door,
And wrap your 'lectric blanket round you.....



IT DOESN'T HURT SO LONG AS IT RHYMES:
You the Poet


I've told you oh too many stories,
Twisted visions, comical dreams.
I've written my life in CAPITALS,
It's not as "meaningful" as it seems:

It's you that makes all the difference,
'Cause you're the spirit in my lines,
And tragedy's the mask for comedy:
It doesn't hurt so long as it rhymes.

_______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________

It's you that makes all the difference,
'Cause you're the spirit in my lines,
And tragedy's the mask for comedy:
It doesn't hurt so long as it rhymes.

_______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________
_______________________________

It's you that makes all the difference,
'Cause you're the spirit in my lines,
And tragedy's the mask for comedy:
It doesn't hurt so long as it rhymes.................................

***********************
VI. KOREA: TEA YUL MU
************************

IT'S ALL IN YOUR HEAD...

The mother of all hang-overs,
My head is splitting, you take half,
And my colon is running against my stomach
To see which of them can implode first.
And I love Song-tan.

Streets filled with blazing barrooms
And signs that say "fried bantoon,"
At the five 'o' clock the fires are burning,
In another blaze of the neon romance,
And I could love Song-tan.

Down in the basement there's a girl
Who dances fifteen times a night,
And says "I'm half Kaw California Indian,"
I had to tell here that there's no such thing,
Unless you count the tribes in Farmington,
Oh, and I could learn to love Song-tan.

Anthropologists never forgave California Indians
For lying around naked and eating, never working hard.
But the padres put them into their missions,
And civilized them until diseases wiped 'em out.

And don't you think you're an Indian, too?
You're gonna roam the prairies and the rice fields
Rope yourselves a milder breed of kimche,
And peddle it on the streets of LA

A country and Western bar five drinks along,
My latest friend asks me "You like country?"
He tells me that he knows my Indian friend,
He says they call her the "Wild Thing."

So he takes me back to watch her dance,
Stripped down to her ties and laces,
"100 dollars is all they say it takes,"
And I tell him, "She looks like a little girl."

He's seen the show a hundred times but watches
Because that's the way it is, just buying and selling,
And I say, "All that I can do is pity her."
Remembering her talk an hour earlier:

By God, how could that girl be chewing gum,
As my hand is stroking her manicured leg.
She's listening about as much to the wall,
And insisting that her Indian tribe exists.

Her emotions are deadened as that wooden table,
Or one of those thirty-year-old businessmen,
Who yells, "Hey solider, you wanna meet a girl?"
It's a rotation, every girl has to dance.

Where's the fist beneath the nylon glove?
I wanna see a man who owns and sells these goods,
An ugly face on which to focus all my anger.
But her eyes are shining on me like a mirror.

The gum bubble inflates in the air and bursts,
Completing the picture of an unruly child,
Like those Korean girls who go to school,
And walk down the streets of Songtan arm in arm.

I tell her as I pay for her final drink,
"I'm sorry, this isn't doing anything for me."
Three dollars is quite cheap for self-knowledge.
Mercy and measles killed all the gentler tribes.

My head is aching and my stomach's retching,
Just a touch of food poising along with the beer,
One of these days I'm going to wake up like this,
And there's going to be nobody out there.
I could learn to love Song-tan.


BETWEEN MASTERPIECES

Tell yourself another story,
Wind one lie upon another,
Sing the song you want to hear,
This is an all request night.

I didn't warn you that I'd say the truth.
How could I know that I'd be that way.
Dress it up and deck it out in newest duds,
Take it for a night on the town.

Permanently between books, I will confess,
After the cofohol, but before the beer.
I'd sing you a lullaby that you can't hear.
Pack the gear, it's another mission.

You can only go so far before you make a circle,
Singing those pseudo psychedelic blues,
And someone wants to see an American coin.
I can give to her; it's not for sale.

He says my East Los Angeles is b*&^^%%%%
Well my Germany's an ironic double cross.
My Japan has not a yen of the truth,
And my Sterling Heights's home for knights,
Distance improves my vision.

And most of reality is economic,
You can buy some clothes and take it any place,
Or you strip it to its bare essentials,
And put it in some weekly magazine,

(Don't tell me about it the truth
I don't want to know about it;
'Cause only the weak cannot believe.
I'm not as tough as I used to be.)


KOREA WILL NOT BE A JAPAN

You can see the signs in the bathrooms,
On the streets, everywhere you look.
There's not the obsessive self-denial,
Arrogant masochism that makes Japan work.

When you look into a 100 Japanese bathrooms,
You can see Japan.
The Eastern toilet takes up twice the space,
As a Western design,
And yet, can be cleaned with a pushbroom.

Korean bathrooms curiously compromise,
Alternating Western and Eastern stalls,
About 70% of them work, on average.

Then there's the dilemma of the Coke machines,
Walk down any street in Tokyo,
And you see, not mortars or tombstones,
But visible symbols of zaibatsu.

In Korea there are those same machines,
About 70% as many,
And the working rate:
About 70%.

And body fluids and wastes are society's base.




AND THE LITTLE TIGERS SAY....

The biggest, baddest eagle screams,
And it's claws snatch down in the desert.
The snake squirms dying in its grasp,
And the little tigers says "And me, too."

The powerful giant samurai turns,
And draws both of its symbolic swords,
And strikes left and right in its agony
'Till finally it finds its stomach,
And the little tigers ask, "Me too?"

The grand imperial dragon dances;
Its tooth and nails strike barbarians,
And it contemplates its southern walls
And leaves marks that look like words.
The little tigers ponders, "Me too?"

And one tiger glances into the mirror,
And catches the sparks from its eyes,
Oh, but it learns to love itself,
And to despise its brother nearby,
And it lets out another, "Meow."

The dejected tiger turns away from its mate
And tries to dance to a New York disco tune
It trips and falls over its fumbling feet,
And its claws leave scratches like guns,
And the little tiger signs, "Yeow..."

So the two little kittens face one another,
While the dragon sits and talks to its tail,
And bears and eagles scream out hatred,
Two little animals lost in the wilderness,
Hey, but those little tigers growl.


PEP TALK

Get up, you idiot, or it's all over.
Don't tell me that your vomiting again,
That food poisoning is rotting your guts away,
I don't want to hear how long you could sleep,
Or why.

Don't tell me that that wall is still circling,
Or that the cockroaches wouldn't dare this room,
Or that your pockets are lined with small change,
Borrow an aspirin and get some water down.
Come on.

Don't stand there looking in that mirror, waiting,
There's not going to be any special guests, stars,
Clean your face up and brush your teeth, bright, white,
And put on a shirt over that skeleton of yours,
Please move.

You know they're talking about you down in the lounge.
The round, brown-faced girls are probably laughing,
You made a nice little story to tell about the sailors,
On shore and devoid of their senses, American Legions,
On leave.

A ship sails an ocean, but that's not where you floated,
Like a shark you've scrounged and lived off scraps,
Now you're out of territory in these coldest waters,
A shark can cut a hole with its face but inside,
No bones.

You haven't heard a word I said, have you now?
You're just lying there facing that stupid wall,
Come on, you've gotta go now and get working, busy,
And stop dreaming that you can't dream any more.
Get up, you idiot, get moving,
Or drown.




IT'S EASY TO LOVE YOU (Version #1)

You couldn't hide your face in a picture,
Or snow it under a sky of blue.
Put over your mouth a mask of illness,
And still your eyes, the stars, would shine.
'Cause it's easy to love you,
but it's hard to love me.

You still have to go where I've gone, no less.
You'll travel all of those nylon seas, perhaps.
Drink water filled with germs and sulfur.
I hope that your eyes can always see the sky.
'Cause it's easy to you,
but it's hard to love me.

You speak and the words shake me like a song,
A river that's clean without need of filtration,
Like one of those mountain streams of long ago
That you could rest by and not hear a sound.
'Cause it's easy to love you,
but it's hard to love me.

Tonight I'll drink you a toast of decaffenated coffee,
And I wish that I could scream your name in ink,
But that's just not the way it works sometimes
As I hope that you'll never have to learn.
'Cause it's easy to love you,
but it's hard to love me.

Tomorrow I'll snap to you a guarded greeting,
Safe behind my barren walls of words,
I'd hope that you'll never learn to read me
Because you're the text that I've underwritten.
'Cause it's easy to love you,
but it's hard to love me.

It's better to give than receive, and it's safer.
The best I could give you of me is nothing,
And I've got a lifetime supply of that.
Yet you have given me all you have.
And I'm oh, so sorry,
'Cause it's so easy to love you,
but it's hard to love me.

THE SPIDERS

It could take a life time
To examine a spider's web.
Tracing the curious threads,
It weaves with its body and feet:
A web determined by geometric pattern.

It fills its web with nourishment,
Embedded in coils and numbed to coma,
Waiting to feed its future progeny.
So secure it is within its space,
And it could take a lifetime.
Weave, spider, weave.

But what about the roving spider,
That never leaves a silken thread.
That gobbles its prey in gobs,
And leaves behind no lines to trace.
How does it see its pattern?

Where are the nets to follow?
Where are the turns and progressions?
Does it need to build a nest,
Or is its head a web of dreams?
And it could take a lifetime.
Dream, spider, dream.

************************************
VII. THE LAST OF THE ROMANTICS
OR SYMPTOMS OF THE NINETIES
**************************************

THE LAST OF THE ROMANTICS

Seek them not in some podunk flower shop,
Buying three dozen six dollar roses to send.
If you want to find the last of the romantics,
Don't look.

They don't do the tango or the merengue,
At least they don't do it if it means
Buying a suit that's been tailored,
By a friend of the queen's brother.
If you want to find the last of the romantics,
Don't look.

At the record stores, standing between two little,
Fifteen year old preppies who buy their songs,
According to the costume of the company,
And the label of the recording "artists,"
And believe that CDs are better "cause they're newer,"
Of course they're not there.
If you want to find the last of the romantics,
Don't look.

So you say to your self that they must all be
Eating a candlelight dinner with a too significant other,
Member of that opposite sex sipping wine coolers in
Those cups that look half like hour glasses, and
Talking about Picasso and Proust and Marx,
And the eminent decline of American civilization.
Ha!
If you want to find the last of the romantics,
Don't look.

You can try
Through computer dating services to company rating services.
Valentine's day parties or at cook-outs for libraries,
Sad movies that make men cry to political rallies asking "WHY!"
A phone-a-date restaurant service, a man who looks like Elvis,
Look-out booths at Land's end to places the world often sends,
Behind the counter harlequin bookstores, parties stocked with Coors,
Parking $40,000 Chevys and dating Hollywood heavies.
Talking about crystals for your brain, sniffing crack cocaine...
Ah, you're getting colder by the moment.
If you want to find the last of the romantics,
Don't look.



FUTURE FARMER OF THE STONE DESERT

And she'd do well by that seaside
And in the desert where there is no rain,
And cars cross the highway like camels,
And no one goes out after dark.
She'd go well with Southern California.

It's a fantasy island surrounded by land,
Where the bigger you are the lighter you fall,
The two percent probably owns it all,
And drives in their Mercedes straight to the mall,
Yeah, she's ready already.

When that heady prince injects his needles,
Under the hood that bares his check,
She'll look perfect in her brand new dress,
'Cause she'd want the man who rents the best,
And she'd go well with Southern California.


EASY TO LOVE YOU(Version #2)

You'd stand out in a crowd of a thousand,
Like a candle in an unopened room.
You'd make a man's last wish seem a wash,
And his love seem like a doom.

'Cause it's easy to love you,
With your manner so bright I see.
Yeah, it's easy to love you,
But it's hard to love me.

The crowd cheers as you come on the stage,
London's love, Los Angeles's sage.
A smile full of brightness and good cheer,
That could drive a saner man to rage.

'Cause it's easy to love you,
With your manner so bright I see.
Yeah, it's easy to love you,
But it's hard to love me.

You're one of those ten wonders of the world,
The kind that drive the poets to verse,
And from your glare that I seemed hurtled,
My memory tortured by your curse.

And it's easy to love you,
You roll on like an everlasting sea,
And it's easy to love you,
But it's so hard to love me.

THE VANISHING RED MAN
(Or Reflections on the Death of Communism)

It used to be that you could find them,
At every college campus shouting,
Handing out brochures by Marx,
And autographed pictures of Chairman Mao,
but it's hard to find a Red these days.

They would take you out to lunch and split the bill,
Let each pay according to his ability,
And tell you your society is sick and full
And gorged on inequality and hate,
but it's hard to find a Red these days.

They'd implore you with their ringing slogans
And fill a shelf with critical interpretations
Of literature and life and Christianity
And tell you marriage was a financial conceit,
but it's hard to find a Red these days.

They'd talk of nuclear missile silos
And call democracy an "economic front"
And point and shout at the mapboards,
And say, "here's the cost of your clothes,"
but it's hard to find a Red these days.

Listening to my hundred dollar stereo,
They said the Berlin Wall had fallen,
As I drove past a welfare/warfare/drugsell zone,
Where the children are afraid to play at night.
But they said the Cold War was over, and so:
it's hard to find a Red these days.
(Dedicated to Tom Dmytriw.)


BALL OF EMOTIONS

And she's tied tight,
Like a ball of yarn,
That's wound so close,
You can't get a piece,
Without cutting it open.
Thread the needle.

I'd like to unroll that ball,
And see if the inside is air,
Or full of the scorching heat
Like a sun blazing away.
And she could watch me burn!

But all I see's a ball of emotion,
And my words just roll away.




IRONY MAN

An armored suit lined with steel,
Hands to grapple, grab, and grip,
A minor treatable health condition,
That's what makes our irony man.

He soars high above the grimy streets,
Tracking those so elusive criminals
That roam the forgotten urban sprawl.
Is that just a twitter that he feels?

He's reads those technical journals,
And tungsten steel forms his suit.
He confronts the criminals with sarcasm,
But what's that sound like a fading clock.

"Peel back the can," a crook almost sneers,
As they examine the fading form
Collapsed, finished, at their feet:
Lethal armor over a human heart.


SLEEP

She comes to me at night
And walks right through my door,
A mysterious smile in her eyes,
And I know what she's coming for:

"Oh, don't look at me that way,
I have hours of work to do,
And I'll finish none of it,
If I spend those hours with you."

She smiles and dances close
I rally reason in my head and thighs,
But as she gets close,
Fluttering weakness fills my eyes:

"Oh, don't touch me now,
If you take me from my friends,
The trips you bring will spin me,
And take me to my end.

She lifts her cloak of dark, and I gaze into her black eyes:

"And don't touch me now,
For I'm afraid of where I'll go.
Is it stars or skies,
When you sing, my reason goes."

And then I'm spinning far away.
Voyaging inside my inner Earth,
And she has me captive for the night,
Swirling prisoner of her mirth.


STONE COLD LOVER

My head faces off towards the city,
Where the smog sootens out my brain.
And my eyes see nothing but emptiness;
---I could feel a thousand years old.
Oh..., paint me up in red and green,
Plant a new archway before my eyes,
You could make me cleansed again,
And laugh away dry centuries.

Chorus:
I'm a lantern, carved of stone,
Strewn on the path to your shrine,
Waiting to hear your sacred words,
Feeling you burn in my mind.

Salarymen march armed with umbrellas,
With minds filled full of figures,
Their wallets bulging with banknotes,
Orange coins that yearn to be freed.
All I've got is the yen they throw,
And the waters of my icy, clean stream,
So make my stones gold, erase the cold,
And grant me a wish I can dream:
(Chorus)

The lovers walk together at five,
Smearing earth on their clearwax shoes,
They gaze at the sun, arms joined as one,
And leave footprints, rains wash away.
Me, I'd be glad to prance down their trail,
But it's my job to guard these grounds;
My pillars yearn to etch in that soil,
I'd sketch out the curves of your name.
(Chorus)

When it's autumn, at early five o' clock,
Robed priests punch out for the day;
Old cherry trees grow longgreen shadows,
And mischievous spirits dance.
It's then I'm free to touch you again,
Though it looks to the world I'm rock,
Mohammed, they say, could move a mountain,
But only you make stone lanterns warm!

Chorus:
I'm a lantern, carved of stone,
Strewn on the path to your shrine,
Waiting to hear your sacred words,
Feeling you burn in my mind.



IS THAT ALL IT TAKES

Is that all it takes to make you laugh?
A joke that was five-years-old and bad back then.
You're ready to laugh before I even reach the end,
Oh, girl, you make me feel so cold,
And is that all it takes to make you laugh?

Is that all it takes to make you mad?
A harsh word, or a cynical sentence or two,
How did you know he was even talking to you,
I wish that I could feel so bold.
And is that all is takes to make you mad?

Is that all it takes to make you shake?
I hear a cry, one of your shattering screams,
Induced by a Stephen King megadollar dream,
Oh, God, you make me feel so old.
And is that all it takes to make you shake?

Is that all it takes to make you cry?
I tried to close you out, put you safely away,
You could feel the fear burning me anyway,
A heart so warm, you make me feel so cold!
And is that all it takes to make you cry?


*******************************************
VIII. SINGAPORE: SPICES AND FURS
********************************************

THE TIGER'S SONG*

You scratch my tummy, and I'll give you a purr,
Or a howl that will frighten your kittens.
When I stalk, you better watch where you walk,
'Cause I deal death with my snow-white mittens.
From a mile away, I can track a juicy brown deer,
But I'm more likely to be plastered on your beer.
'Cause I'm the tiger of the jungle,
When the jungle's turned to stone.

Where are those thick-green-groves I used to roam,
And the grass to hide my gleaming eyes.
How can I hide amidst these strolling crowds,
When my mouth waters, seeing two succulent thighs?
They say I'm a man-eater; Well, I deny that's true,
But, I'll admit, I've consumed a woman or two.
'Cause I'm the tiger of the jungle,
When the jungle's turned to stone.

Only hunger drives me to this twilight room,
Where the trees are square and running rodents, round.
The human things are stalking one another,
They laugh, and their voices have a deadly sound,
Like the cries of my screams at the sunrise,
In the smoke, Ooooh, I consider my little surprise.
'Cause I'm the tiger of the jungle,
When the jungle's turned to stone.

Who is that innocent one dressed in yellow and white,
That stalls my charge with glassy eyes of jade.
My hairs stand on end: Is the little one my friend?
Oh, I'd better not pounce, or I'll just show my age.
My claws grip the floor, my tail's all in a tuft.
It's no tiger at all, but a child's toy, stuffed!
Oh, I'm the tiger of the jungle,
When the jungle's turned to stone.

It's feeding time again, they throw me another pile
Of what's considered food inside of my little cell.
What's left for me to do but grimaces and growls,
And dream of busting through those iron bars of Hell.
'Cause I may be entrapped inside this zoo,
But if get I out......
Watch out!
Grrrrrrr!!!!!
I'll eat you too!
'Cause I'm the tiger of the jungle,
When the jungle's turned to stone.

*There is a legend that the last tiger in Singapore was shot under a pool table in the Longbar Lounge of the 1930s trendy Raffle's Hotel. I've taken the liberty of fleshing out the story to have the tiger end up (more fittingly) in the zoo at the end of the story.

AT THE MOSLEM MOSQUE

No pictures are allowed,
Cameras, not welcome.
Visitors don't enter.
Only worshippers may pray.

They cover their women up from head to toe.
The wines are locked and reserved for Heaven.
Gambling is considered cardinal vice.
And artistry is only abstract rhythms,
That mirror the mind, not the face of God.
This is a deity that's clothed in dignity:
How could he fear laughter from the likes of me?

No pictures are allowed,
Cameras, not welcome.
Visitors don't enter.
Only worshippers may pray.

What is beyond those walls, behind those veils?
What kind of pleasure comes from abstinence,
Or from dedication to unflinching patterns?
It was only after years of fleshly joys
That Mohammed started to have his headaches.
Is she beautiful or is it only mystery?
What does it take to make an Allah laugh-

No pictures are allowed.
Cameras, not welcome.
Visitors don't enter,
Only worshippers may pray.


YING AND YANG

I am the Emperor of China:
I have tamed the Dragon Kings;
I have silenced all the mountain tops;
I have fed the peasants in their huts;
I have consulted with the Gods:
I have the mandate of the Heavens.
But the world turns, there's ying and yang.
And in my dynasty I sew the seeds,
Of the weeds to choke my fields.

I am the Emperor of China:
I have burned the bones of dragons;
I've built buildings high as mountain tops;
I have fed the peasants in their ghettos;
I have consulted with the CEOs:
I have the mandate of Computers.
But the world turns, there's ying and yang.
And in my dynasty I sew the seeds,
Of the weeds to choke my fields.

SINGAPORE

These are not the real Chinese.
Many do not know Mandarin,
Kanji could be cuneiform,
For all some understand it.
Their bloodlines are ripe with Malay,
Their skins are tinted sandy brown,
And even some of them are Christian.
No, these aren't the real Chinese.

These aren't the real Indians.
Some of them have never seen their land.
The spices that they cook are suspect,
And shops cater primarily to tourists.
The temples have a strangely foreign look,
Some sari's say "Made in Honk Kong."
A rupee's not as good as a dollar to them.
No these aren't the real Indians.

These are not the real Malays either.
Quite a few of them look all too white,
Not all the Muslim girls wears veils.
The men dress "casual" in polo shirts.
You see them eat in Chinese restaurants,
Where no one even bats an eye,
To see them sit with turbaned Sikhs,
For they are not the real Malays either.

The British are not real British.
I guess, that goes without saying.

You see, there never was an actual Merlion.
It was invented as a tourist icon,
To represent a creature that never roamed
In bays or woods that now are tamed.
And Singapore's a meal of spices,
Carefully mixed and savored;
Somehow it's filling and delicious,
More true than a Merlion's heart.

************************************
IX. SONGS OF THE INCOMPETENT
***************************************

THE SONGS OF THE INCOMPETENT

How can I tell stories of muscled heroes and maidens,
Who blush at the mention of shameful thoughts.
No shining men adorned in armor of polished iron,
And wizards who know righteous answers by heart,
Oh no, not me!

Chorus:
I sing the songs of the incompetent:
Lyrics for losers and the also rans,
Of boys who never get the girl or gold,
And the racers who always finish second.
As long as we laugh together,
Then nothing can ever hurt us.

You never heard about Dante who almost got the prize,
Which would've meant his lyric poems were published,
And all those editorial types would've recalled vividly
"Oh yeah, I knew way him back when......"
Well, then, hear that tale from me.

Did you here about Larry in the little league,
Who never managed to even -"meet" the ball,
One time he made its acquaintance (quite by accident)
And all the fans marveled at the force.....
No, I'm sorry, they still got him out.

And what about Lionel the boy who wrote the note,
And gave it to the beautiful little girl;
Her eyes shone bright in that reflected light,
But she went out with Lester Flex instead,
Out, don't let it get to you!

They say that nice guys always finish last,
If that's true then you and I compete,
To see who can cross that finish line faster,
But we've got heart,
You know that's what it takes,
And you've got me, and I've got you.
(Repeat chorus)

ACROSS THE RIVER: A REGGAE
As performed by Shake-a-Speare and the Elizabeaten Poets

You may see me at six 'o' clock,
A sickle or a plow by my side.
I see her board the bus to the city.
I stand by my barn, and I hide.
Oh no, she never does see me
Any more than any horse or a mule.
All I ever do is I shake my head,
And hide myself away like a fool.

Chorus:
I farm the land, across the river,
That pumps so hard to keep us apart.
I want a way, that I can give her,
The love that runs along in my heart.

When I was a boy, we'd all travel.
To school a mile away from my land.
She used to dance with all the young men,
While I just played along in the band.
Now she goes to work at nine 'o' clock,
When I have put in half of my day.
If only I could say something to her,
Maybe then I'll have her looking my way.
(Chorus)

Her hair is the blackness of coffee,
Her stockings are as white as a rose,
Her dress is the color of bananas,
And her shoes show off all of her toes.
Oh River, you flow without ceasing,
I wish you were a god to hear prayer.
Give me the courage to speak my mind,
And give me the words so I'll dare.
(Chorus)

I wonder what it's like in her city.
Is it true they live in houses of glass,
All the people live with homes in the sky,
And walk on carpets of green-woven grass?
Someday I'm going to go down and go see her.
I'll take that bus along with her, too.
Maybe I'll wear my best storemade clothes,
Just to prove that my love is all true.
(Chorus)

There she is now, a car has come for her.
A coach that's dressed in chrome and in black.
She's carrying out both of her suitcases,
And I know that she is not coming back.
My hand shakes as I write her this note,
I don't know if I can figure out why,
Onto the waves, I lay this paper boat,
Oh, She'll get it if the river runs dry. (Chorus)

CAN YOU TEACH ME HOW TO ROCK AND ROLL: A FANTASY
Song by Deadly and the Reamers

I was driving in the stranger part of town,
I had just gotten off from my work.
I was feeling like I'd been all day dying.
I was driving like some kind of a jerk.

The cafe's lights were a faded neon.
I walked through the door to find the john,
And then I saw them doing their thing.
There was a kind of party going on:

The walls were printed out in go-go green,
And the floor'd never seen a disco light.
The windows were colored with crepe paper,
So you could see shadows from the night.

There was hardly a table in the entire place,
All the crowd was out on the floor,
You couldn't see a bouncer anywhere,
There was no cover charge at the door.

Chorus:
And can you teach me how to rock and roll?
Can you show me how to dance?
Can you tell me how to LOSE my soul?
And shake me out with romance?
Can you teach me how to do the twist;
Stomp those cigarette butts out with my heels?
Can you teach me how to rock and roll?
I want to know how it feels.

They were scooting along to the jukebox,
Playing songs I hadn't heard in an age.
There were girls wore minis and beehive hairdos
And one dressed like a leopard in a cage.

The band was playing the "jerk and jive,"
moptops were out wiping up on the floor,
And I was just about to go back outside,
When this guy in a Nehru jacked blocked me at the door.

When I mentioned synthesizers,
He looked around and searched for a Red,
And he said he didn't believe in witchcraft,
When I mentioned the Talking Heads.

His hair was combed in a punch bowl cut,
The end of his pants were red double flared,
He spoke in these "meaningful" sentences,
And I might have asked him, had I dared:
(Chorus)

He shoved me out on that dance floor,
And hauled me up when I started to "break,"
He said, "Hey, Man, is your leg broken,"
"Or haven't you leeearned how to shake."

A big blonde threw back her hairdo,
And reached out and she snatched off my tie.
I watched forty dollars go off sailing,
And I vowed that I would give it a try.
(Chorus)

They were playing Marvin Gaye and Motown,
And they could "shake, shimmy, shammy, and bop."
Their heads were spinning and their eyes were grinning,
And doing circles like a spinning top.

I could do that "grind," I could do the "grill."
I watched that smile slide over her face.
I would've done some more, done them all,
Except the crowd of bodies filled the space.
(chorus)

Then I looked down at my Rolex watch,
And started heading out through the door,
The blonde looked at me, her eyes pleading:
"It's groovy, man, let's dance some more."

I drove my Volvo out of the parking lot,
The cafe faded away with my grin.
I've driven by there one hundreds time,
And never seen that dance place again.
(Repeat chorus)

HOME ALONE: A BALLAD
As performed by Alain Bullut

The haze is setting over LA tonight,
The faded glow of that Hollywood neon,
And it's another happy ending,
Because the good guys don't always win.
And I've got a tankful of gas,
And a map that'll take me all the way.
And it's hard to drive the road at night,
Alone.

Chorus:
It's hard to drive with just headlights,
When a arrow fades to a dot,
You need to see those off-ramps,
Where "X" marks the spot;
But me, I've nowhere to go but home,
And it's hard to drive the road at night,
Alone.

Los Vegas is a seventy-foot-cowgirl,
Blazing a challenge in multicolored lights,
As the Masertis Dodge the drunkards,
But how can they know I've placed my bets,
And lost spades, clubs, and diamonds.
My hearts were cleaned out long ago.
Driving onward is my only sure thing.
(Chorus)

Somewhere out on the prairie I hear,
That engine sputtering "out of gas."
And I get out and try my to look my best,
Before they arrest me as a vagrant.
An old pick-up truck pulls over,
A man asks, "How bad you want it, son?"
And when I tell him, he just-gives it away.
(Chorus)

And now that sun is rising for day,
But I've walked the last eight miles,
To a house I've not seen in fifteen years,
And through memories I should forget,
But home they say is where "they gotta take ya,"
And I've got nothing but blues to lose.
The door opens-I see the face of strangers:
Is it time to go on?
(Chorus)

BACK FROM THE DEAD: A HEADBANGER
As performed by Drack and the Dreadnaughts

Spoken:

We are gathered here today to pay our last respects to one whom we all loved dear, a pillar of our community, and a credit to his....
"If only he could've seen."
"Ow. Ow."
"He's, he's, he's ALIVE!"

Bass introduction

My body's lies on the coroner's table,
They wash their hands in the sink,
My vital signs have long since faded,
But when I see you I think:

Chorus:
Don't send me off to an undertaker,
Just keep those wire off my head.
Don't fire me up with incinerators.
(Pause) Send Guns and Roses instead.
'Cauuuuuse
You brought me back from (three times)
The Dead!
(bass line)

A line is formed at the funeral parlor,
Each person is paying respect,
You bow and kiss my icecold lips,
I think "I love your new dress."
(Chorus)

The Cadillac rolls to the cemetery,
Your friends talk of when I was alive,
But the thought of you smiling again,
Makes me want to sit up and drive!
(Chorus)

They shovel dirt down in the hole,
My hand is grasping an inside door,
I yell out "What is your hurry:
I've played with Elvis before."
(Chorus)


I'M NOT AS OLD AS I USED TO ME: A TEXAS STOMPER
As song by Tex Arcana

You sure think you know the score about me,
Smile like you're sitting giving sympathy,
Your eyes keeping running laps behind your shades,
Giving all the "young dudes" their passing grades.
You think they're gonna fall in love with you,
And believe that all those things you say are true.
You told me a lie about being twenty-five,
Yet you expect to hear my age from me.
Well, I've got a surprise, "Honey":
"I'm not as old as I used to be."


I remember when the young men went to Vietnam,
And people worried if the Russians had the Bomb,
Back when some of the presidents were Democrats,
When the Moon was where they sent the astronauts.
I remember back when China wasn't America's friend,
And Nixon wanted to keep good Taiwan in the U.N.
You tell me you don't remember that past,
When things weren't the way you see.
Well, "Honey," things have changed,
And I'm not as old as I used to be.

I recall when Elvis was a middleaging fad.
And good jobs came to hardworking high school grads.
Money was something men spent on a date,
And Tony the Tiger said his flakes were "Greattt."
Marriage was something you did for your life,
And it meant something to be "so-and-so's" wife.
Children actually knew where their father went,
And families decided how the money would be spent.
Times were better, and times are now
And I'll buy a drink for you and me,
Well toast to tomorrow, 'Cause:
I'm not as old as I used to be.

It was "in" and then it wasn't to be without means,
And there times only poor boys wore jeans,
And when boys and girls danced, they actually touched,
You could kiss in a station wagon, but not too much.
When a long skirt reached further the knees,
And when you asked for something, you'd say "Please."
I remember those dance, long forgotten now,
But the new ones aren't so hard for me.
As long as you can move, you'll see, that
I'm not as old as I used to be.

You think those babes can do the waltz with you.
They won't know if it's three beats or two,
They'll expect you to pay them for their time,
And tell you, nowadays, it's only rap that rhymes.
They'll dress you up in their love,
And when they say Madonna, they won't mean above.
They look their best in front of mirrors,
And a kiss from them is never free.
But if you'd hold my hand, you'd see,
I'm not as old as I used to be.

Hold onto my hand, we won't count the lines.
Adjust your fancy clothes, you look just fine.
Come out on the dance floor, show me your stuff.
I've practicing a lot, but I'm not that tough.
We can dance fast and slow, foxtrot and twist,
We can do the two-step with the flick of a wrist.
We'll get that blood rushing,
Stand by this sturdy oak tree,
We've got all night, and
I'm not as old as I used to be.


LEAVE THEM BOYS ALONE: A HONKY TONK
As performed by Ernie Dough and the Shiftkickers

The Kickers and I played this skid row bar,
I tell you we though we were playing pretty well,
But there were these three dudes sitting there,
The biggest one stood up and said, "Yall go to Hell."
Then a voice said:

Chorus
Leave them boys alone, and let 'em play their song,
It sounds pretty bad, I know that's true,
But if you've had enough, you might even sing along,
I know they'd do as much for you.

Well, the biggest of those guys stood up real quick,
I could see his angry face, I had no choice,
The other three scowled enough to make me sick,
They wanted to find that man that had that voice,
But the voice said:
(chorus)

All the lights went on in that chintzy bar,
Fifteen people watching those ginormous three.
I wondered how fast I could make it to my car,
But still looked back so that I could see,
The voice that said:
(chorus)

He was a little guy not over five foot two,
The kind that bleeds a lot and cries,
Spends Saturdays walkin' in the zoo,
But he looked those three dudes in the eye,
And repeated:
(chorus)

The biggest dude put out a shaggy paw,
He said, "you're the bravest man I know."
The little man weren't impressed by all their awe,
He said, "I just want to hear the show,"
So he told them:
(chorus)

I've never been back to that grimy place,
Though I've played in worse it's probably true.
I'd much rather play off in outer space,
'Cause if you're interrupted, aliens will say to you:
Yeah, they'll say:
(chorus)


THE SCHOOLTEACHING BLUES
As performed by Howling Chalk Chompers

I'm riding round the parking lot,
The schoolyard still is very dark.
Classes don't begin for an hour,
But I can't find a place to park!
The bell are ringing tardy;
Kids all run to beat the clock,
Johnny rushes right past me,
And almost kicks me in the.....watch.

(Chorus)
Hey-----heyyyy.
Sometimes you win, most times you lose.
No matter how you look at it,
You can stiiill get those schoool teaching blues.

Tony asks me for a pencil,
And I loan to him my pen.
Before I've turned around,
Well, he's tossed it to a friend.
I have a talk with Johnny;
Tell him "Leave Rita B. alone."
When I look around the classroom,
Someone's stolen half the phone!
(Chorus)

I'm sitting in the cafeteria,
Hearing the howling of the kids,
I'd be eating up my tray lunch
If I could figure out what it is!
Marina's talking about her problems,
She in love with John and Waldo D.
I guess that's an improvement
'Cause last week she fell for me!
(Chorus)

I'm correcting all the papers.
The mistakes just seem to look the same.
I see that Sally's done a perfect job
Except that she's misspelled my name!
I'm standing by my mailbox,
I'm reading down my check.
After subtracting those deductions,
Well, the paper's all I get.
(Chorus)

I'm sitting in the barroom,
I'm complaining about my class.
Some buddy says "what a lousy school"
And I tell him to kiss my.....glass."
Well I've told you all my story.
You may think that I'm a slob,
But I thought I would tell you
Exactly why I love this job!!! (Chorus)

MY WIFE LEFT ME...AND MY DOG DIED

(By Ernest Dough and the Shiftkickers)

I came and saw the note tacked on the door.
It said, "I'm leavin', you're to blame."
Then I saw 'ole Scruffy lying on the floor.
Now, my life will never be the same.
I sat down on my Kmart kitchen floor.
I searched to find some forwarding address.
Flies were still jumping off Fluffy's hair,
She left my whole life in such a mess.

Chorus:
I sit at night and cry into my beer.
I can't forget, you know, I tried.
It seems so different living here,
Since my wife left me, and my dog died.

I drove my eighteen-wheeler down the roads,
And smashed a car or two besides,
I came home, five six-packs bought to go,
How can you drive with tears fillin' up your eyes?
Five buddies came to help me share my grief.
We drank a Bud or two, you know that's right.
We drank to a past that's passed relief,
And happiness that's gone out of sight.
(Chorus)

I pointed to some pictures on the wall,
Said, "there's not one like her in this world."
Then I shook my head and warned them right,
"Stay away from that kind of girl."
I heard a ring, picked up my kitchen phone,
Heard a voice say, "Hey, I've seen the light."
I slammed my hand, ignored that forgiving tone,
What kinda woman don't treat your doggie right?
(Chorus)


THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY
(For poet and session drummer)

It's five o' clock, and I'm feeling black,
I have no idea just what to do,
It's been another of those regretful days,
Any "normal person" would be feeling blue,
But-not-me
(click-click-click-click)

'Cause when I hear that little drummer boy
(click-click-ba-dump-click).
My head fills with a most unusual joy.
(click click ca-ca click).
I'm like a little boy refusing to be blue.
(click click cli thcha tacha bump).
I can hear that drummer boy, can't you?

I went to my doctor's lab last week (tch, tch, tcass).
He said, "Zomething iz very very wrong (ba dump bum).
"When I put my stethoscope to your heart,
I hear this most peculiar wittle song (ba dump bump)."

But-I-asked-him,
"Was it:
'ba ba ba du pa pa!
juggadugga dugga dugga dch?'"
He said, "Yah dat was it."
"Well, you know I wouldn't be too surprised."

'Cause when I hear that little drummer boy,
(click, click, click, click)
That rhythm spreads like fever to my feet.
(dump, dump, dch)
I've got to go right to someone and sing it,
So that you can all hear the beat
(ba-dump-pa).

(Question and answer between speaker and soloist).

Now I asked my girlfriend where she was going (ba dump pa).
She told me, "Honey, we are done" (ba dumpa ba dump pum).
When I first asked you out (da dump bump),
You told me that you'd give me a-(pa-pa-pa)."
And I said, "what do you mean?"
She said, "jucka ducka ducka ducka ching."

'Cause now she hears that little drummer boy (pa pa pa),
There's a rhythm in her heart she can't deny (ba dump bum).
I want to say, "Honey I LOOOVE you."
But instead I hear her cry: (Silence for several seconds)

(Call and response)

Now there's much to be learned from my story (pa pa pa pum).
Think of it, next time you're in a fix (ta da ta da tum).
Before you let the world try to get you down (ta da ta dat),
Hear you drummer boy and try to play some licks (clank).

'Cause when I hear that little drummer boy
(click-click-ba-dump-click).
MY head fills with a most unusual joy.
(click click ca-ca click).
I'm like a little boy refusing to be blue.
(click click click thcha tacha bump).
I can hear that drummer boy, can't you?

THE NERD RAP
As peformed by MT Hammerhead

Hey? You never seen a nerd scratcher?
My name is MT Hammer, I'm a nerd.
When it comes to rappin' I'm the word.
I can separate the ways from the curd,
Cause I'm the best rapper you never heard.
(Note: the first four lines can be repeated to taste, like the first four lines of 'Rapman.').

Let's get you out there moving....
It's nerdrap time, so let's start.
Put on your spectacles and look smart.
Slap on blue light duds you got at Kmart.
It's the move, not the look, that's the art!

Let me tell you how I work....
I write all my wraps upon the screen.
With a curser, I get down and I get mean.
I'll need a color monitor to turn you green,
But I'm the best wrapper that's ever been.

You're being taken for a ride....
I drive an old Celica with lots of funk,
I keep driving even when I hear a "clunk,"
It's weaving down the road alike it's drunk
But don't sweat; all my tools are in the trunk.

Hey buddy, you don't want to dance?..
Now people try to say the "nerdrap" is funny.
Well, try it on the floor with your honey.
Mom's can take a break with their sonny.
And buy another disc (I need the money).

What? You don't LIKE my rap!...
Now you say nerdwrap don't make the grade.
I don't think you been hearin' what I say-ed.
Point on your glasses, if you're not afraid.
'Cause it's nerdrap, the best that's ever made.

Wait? Wait? Who pulled the plug?
The truth I'm telling you is at an end,
Anyone who'll dance nerdy is your friend,
A nerd rap's a postcard for you gotta send.
'Cause its moving and its truth will never bend.


YOU DIDN'T TEACH ME HOW TO ROCK AND ROLL
As song by Larry and the Lowlifes

Spoken:
You really thought you were something,
Goin' out with high rollers in Cadillacs,
Now you've come back with those same old lines,
Expecting me to go and take you back,
Well, I've got a little news for you,
I wasn't a little boy the day I met you.

Chorus:
You didn't teach me how to rock and roll....
You didn't teach me how to dance...
You didn't show me how to fall in love...
Or "introduce" me to romance....
You didn't show me how to do the two-step....
How to dress or how to sing the blues.....
And if you think I'm take you back.....
Well you haven't paid your dues....

So you think you're something in your skintight pants,
That you can go and sweep me offa my feet,
I've seen better shows at a Halloween ball,
...Tell me 'bout your trick or treat.
Do you think you've got enough blonde slapped in your hair,
So that's gonna stay that color whila' we dance,
Well. I'll tell you, my card's all filled,
So you haaaaven't got a chance......Cause.
(Chorus)

You wanna go and buy an ice cold cooler,
Go and fill it up with all of those "trendy wines,"
Then you think I'll play some kind of "Hey big spender,"
Well you're notagonna waste my money or my time,
'Cause I could settle for an nice cold soda,
As long as the company is gonna treat me right,
And someone's gonna be there to hold my hand,
And not run round like a 'Chevy all night....Cause
(Chorus)

Don't you tell me 'bout those long cold nights,
Cryyyy and Caaalling out my name,
Cause every time I hear that sad old tune,
My laughter's gonna sound just the same,
I don't wanna hear about your red hot honey,
And how he drinks the very words that you say,
I'm even gonna waste time chuckling,
I've got bettter things to do today.
(Chorus)

(Spoken over base background, with base drum along).
So come on, "Sugar", I'm waiting.
You wanna tell me how green my eyes look?
That I'm not really losing all my hair?
That, indeed, you Alllllways loved me?
Come on?
Come on? (slow crescendo.)
Come on.
Come on!

(Break. Total silence for four beats.)

Go ahead. Make my day.

So you see you haven't melted my heart,
It's all there and it's pumping a storm.
I'm off to find someone to dance with me,
With palms, not ice, to keep me warm.
So you can go and you can follow me now,
Beg for mercy, get down on your knees,
And I'll consider my choices-carefully,
Because I wanna hear you say "please...."
Cauuuuse.
(Chorus)


TALK TO ME LIKE THAT
As Song By Sandy, Arnie, and the Urippy Tribesmen


Arnie: When we're rolling the highway,
Down that old California Coast,
You don't ask me where we're going,
You say "Hun, just hold me close,"
You don't ask me when we'll be there,
Or just how long we're gonna drive,
'Cause as long as you're beside me,
I feel this ole Chevrolet can fly!

Chorus:
Both:'Cause you know that I love it
When you talk to me like that.
We're happy just together,
And that's the one essential fact.
I don't need no dictionary,
To tell me about "tact,"
'Cause you know that I love it,
When you talk to me like that.


Arnie:When we're eating at the Burger King,
You don't tell I'm so cheap,
You just look at me through onion rings,
And say "Honey, this is sooo sweet..."
You don't care if I pay the bill,
Or if we split it up in two,
'Cause nothing tastes as great
As when I fill my hours with you.
(Chorus)


Sandra: I don't care how much we argue,
I don't care how much we fight....
As long as we're on the subject,
We both say "Honey, you were right..."
They may say we're strange together,
Just like hot fire and polar ice,
But I'll stay with you forever,
As long as you keep on talkin' nice:
(Chorus)

Arnie: You quiz me 'bout my habits,
I feel like I'm on Jeopardy,
But I don't care too much about it,
Long as Friday night you're free.
Sandra: You dress just like you're homeless,
Or a gangster flagging down a ride,
But as long as you speak softly,
I'll play Bonnie to your Clyde.
(Chorus)

Arnie: My friends all call you "Spitfire."
Sandra: My friends say you're "Mr. Cool."
Arnie: My mom's say you're a genius,
Sandra: And my dad says you're a fool.
Arnie: My brother say he's dated you,
Sandra: And the girls all know your name.
Both: It's hard to find a couple
That's achieved our kind of fame!
(Chorus)

Both: The fights we've shared together,
And the troubles we've been through,
They all boil down to trivia,
When I hear my name from you.
I may hear the others criticize,
Saying how I have been trapped,
But the Siren's song I wanna hear,
So Honey, talk to me like that.
(Chorus)

FRAGMENTS OF TIME

When you switch on your lights, you see sunshine.
While I just see an image of light.
You've filed the points of greenwood spears,
But it's with my pencil, I fight.

Oh we, could never be together, ever.
We could never walk the same line.
We can only dream a forever.
For we are just two fragments of time.

You shop every day in your icy green forests,
And me, I do my hunting in malls.
My jungles are bigger than fifty-five stories,
But the stars are the dots on your walls.

Oh we, could never be together, ever.
We could never walk the same line.
We can only dream a forever.
For we are just two fragments of time.

The rain is the tap that you open each morning,
While, I touch a knob made of steel.
Dead dragonblood fuels up my four-wheeled-canoe,
And I wonder, at nights, if I'm real.

Oh we, could never be together, ever.
We could never walk the same line.
We can only dream a forever.
For we are just two fragments of time.

Now the sun sets on your village of wood,
I marvel at strange words that you said.
I wonder if you could imagine my world,
Or if I could be a dream in your head.

Oh we, could never be together, ever.
We could never walk the same line.
We can only dream of forever.
For we are just two fragments of time.

*********************************
X. MANILA, December 21st, 1991
*********************************

You shouldn't have told the truth to me.
You should've had the sense to close your heart.
You should've had the mind to tell a lie.
And then you wouldn't have to watch me cry.

A face is a mask, and a tale is an armor.
Like rusted knights, we meet at sunrise,
And daylight hits the dented steel and flies,
The visor lifts, you'll have to watch me cry.

I've sewn your fields with plastic seeds,
That grow with the life of a photograph.
It's just a snap, a click, a snatch of life,
I'll look away, but it's you that has to watch me cry.

The river heals: like time, it's a giving flow,
Cascading from the mountains to reach your feet,
And blood returns to even the most frostbit limbs.
You'll bleed, and you'll find yourself alive, some day.
I hear, I'm gone,
And I won't have to watch you cry.


ON MARIBONGO BEACH

He held my hand a good ten minutes.
"My friend, we do love Americans.
We must stand arm and arm like brothers."
All I could think of, as I reddened, was:
"When is he going to let me go."

And all I'd wanted them to do was watch my wallet,
The pesos they could steal for all I cared,
My passport, though, was worth a little more.

"So tell me what you think of Filipinos?"
"Um Um," I started, "They're so friendly."
"Yes, now, we want to raise a glass to you."
"You do?" I thought how much this meal would cost,
And thought, "when is he going to let me go?"

Two hours later I was still with them,
And ate their rice and drank the San Miguels,
Expotulating theories about politics,
And, God forbid, I even drank the water.

I'd almost forgotten the little white haired man
Who'd grasped the hands of me, a stranger man,
Who thought a swim would be a nice thing,
To take on a Christmas afternoon,
I thought, "when is he going to let me go?"


MARCOS AND IMELDA
SID AND NANCY
JOE AND SANDY

Was Marcos worse than other leaders?
It appears that he popped pills,
Thought he had some magical powers,
Indulged a spendthrift wife.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely?

Joe enjoyed aspirin and coffee.
He'd been known to get a little drunk.
He'd have bought a woman if he could,
Spent little fortunes on his spouse.
Little power corrupts a little?

An amoebae is a whale in the magnifier.
Protozoan appear carnivorous fish.
Cell divisions seems major miracles,
But only the cleanest glass will shine.


THE BEGGAR BOYS*
(In the Shadows of the Manila Cathedral)

Don't frown and look off somewhere else,
'Cause I see what I need, it's in your hand,
A coin buys me a bite, carry me a while,
And fill the hurt I feel deep down inside.
'Cause I'm a beggar boy from Binondo;
You give me money?

My day starts when, or if, the sun comes up,
My night's, when you can't hear my pleas.
My word are ever spoken just the same;
No, no one gave this dirty face a name.
'Cause I'm a beggar boy from Binondo;
You give me money?

I like it by this church, the folks dress well,
My pew is here ten yards outside its walls.
The choir I often hear, no music to my ear,
It's food that makes me tingle all inside.
'Cause I'm a beggar boy from Binondo;
You give me money?
You give me money, give me money, give me money.
Give me money, give me money, give me money!

My mother was a whore, she bore me in a barn,
My father never dared to show his face.
It doesn't really matter, I don't believe in him.
'Cause what is truth is what I feel, and what I eat.
'Cause I'm a beggar boy from Binondo;
You give me money?

The brothers that I have, are begging in the streets,
You can spot us by the dirt caked on our hands,
You can't wash me clean, please, so don't be mean.
A coin is all it takes to make me smile.
'Cause I'm a beggar boy from Binondo;
You give me money?

*There are millions of unwanted children, mostly boys, begging on the streets of Manila.


THE WAR WITH THE ROACHES

The black *&^^%% looked at me
And made a rush for the cover of the wall.
"Splat!" Not fast enough.
I neutralized the bandit with an airstrike,
Bombed him with THE PLASTIC TOMORROW.
"Whack! Whack!" And he was antbait.

I lay down, satisfied, inside my bunker,
But spotted two more dark intruders,
Their bellies bulged with refuse,
As they scrambled towards their cover.
"Boom! Boom!" The book flew hard.
I groaned, "Missed." knowing they'd be back.

I took the body of their fallen comrade,
Kicked it to the middle of the cabin,
I laughed, "Ha! Ha!" when I found the wrapper,
And baited the carcass with sugar crumbs.
I imagined hungry ants toiling with the limbs
Roaches angrily viewing the desecration,
"There," I snarled, "stay back there,
Or I'll only stun the next raider!"

I reached for the light switch but halted.
Their eyes with their night scope vision,
They'd be stalking me in the darkness,
Waiting to spring from their hootches.
I shoved the bed to the room's center,
So that I could watch all the approaches.
One false move, they would see my arsenal,
My book, my magazines, and cleanex-clad fist.

I knew I wouldn't sleep too well that night;
It's not easy when you're standing guard.
150 million years they been waiting,
Planning their insecticide reign.
Well, it wouldn't start with me on guard!

THE WONDER OF THE FILIPINA

As quiet as your family dog,
Small as a junior high school girl,
As used to nada as to poverty,
No wonder she's in high demand.

"Hey, man, I get you nice young girl."
"If she were nice, she wouldn't know you."

She walks with arm around another's waist,
Her girlfriend's arm wrapped round her shoulder,
Brown eyes look absently towards fate,
She someone's kind of fantasy.

"Hey you, you want I can get you one
Just eighty pesos, for an hour?"

She smiles with hints of shyness,
Hesitates to disagree with you,
And sounds...like someone's little girl..

Survivors of the war between the sexes,
With segments of their masculinity in rags,
Veterans of mutual psychoprobes,
Addicted to defending their income,

Can only wish to find a child...





BY YOUR SOUL

I'm going to take you out for a night on the town,
We'll have a meal at the Top of the Tower.
The lobster tails may be hot, but they don't got what I got,
'Cause I'm the one with a wallet of steel.
I'll open up my pocketbook one more time.
But it's not just a meal that I am buying.
(Chorus):
My money's not in banks; don't give me your thanks.
I'm the one that wants to take you whole.
I don't want to loan you; girl, I'm gonna own you.
You know, I'm gonna buy your soul.

I'll dress you up from your toes to your tassels,
Like a little girl in pinafores, buttons, and bows,
Or in fishnet nylons,(I've seen you wear them, come on)
Speak up! The fashion statement's on me.
I'll trust you wear these brand new panties,
But please, display, that twenty-dollar-smile,
(Chorus)
I can splurge for a castle with a cement keep.
I'd get a Mercedes, but the quality's too cheap.
I'd fill a room a fulla junk, from the places I've slunk,
There's yacht's with sails calling for your name.
Banks, stocks, and bunds, I'd pillage a mutual fund.
All for a long term "investment."
(Pause)
I live in a mansion of emptiness;
It's sewn with thoughts for "seems."
My money's not in banks, don't give me your thanks.......

I've filled my rooms with ghosts;
Who haunt with taunts and screams.
I'm the one that wants to take you whole.........

I wake to the sight of posters;
I sleep to the sound of machines.
I don't want to loan you; girl, I'm gonna own you.........

And shake my head in wonder:
Nothing's as cheap as my dreams.
You know I'm gonna buy your soul.........

Summon the armies of brokers and thieves,
Poor traders who long to be corporate raiders.
Real estate has inflated far beyond its worth.
Determine now the price of air, or of playing fair.
I can spend my invisible fortunes and do,
Yet what's the cost of my losing you?

My money's all in banks, I'd long for your "thanks."
I'd try my best to take you, whole.
I don't want to loan you; girl, I wanna own you.
But I could never buy your soul.