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Formal Verse - Songs:

This section contains poems written as song lyrics. For more of my attempts at song lyrics, see the section with Blues lyrics. There are also a few songs masquerading as poems in the Light Verse sections:

Creeper

The sky's marching down
Grey and alive.
Watch out, creeper--
The sky's alive.

Through cracks in the sidewalk
Green feelers scout.
Life is invading,
Creeper--watch out!

Even your breath
is swarming with spies.
Yet you keep breathing--
Is it wise?

Beware of the trees,
Beware of the skies--
Beware of meeting
Another's eyes.

Beware of questions;
Never answer.
Too much sunlight
Causes cancer.

Hide behind
a knowing smile--
Life will leave
In a little while


Song

I think I had a pain in a far-off cloud,
Heigh ho, the wind and the rain,
Looking at the stars through a hole in my head,
For the rain it raineth every day.

I think I loved you with a pain,
Heigh ho, the wind and the rain,
For those are your eyes that were my stars,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Gentle fingers touched the stars,
Heigh ho, the wind and the rain,
And from your eyes went all my pain,
For the rain it raineth every day.


The Chase

They're after me--
How did they know?
I'm carrying love without a permit--
Where can I go?
I've got to hide my love away
Where it won't show!
Where can I hide it?
O!

Whenever I hide it,
It turns to clay,
And I can't keep
What I made to give away,
But they won't have it--
They say love can betray,
And nothing that is loved
Can ever stay!

I hid my love in matter,
Time, energy and space,
In galaxies I swirled it,
But the stars left a trace.
I've crushed my love in planets,
I disguise love as my face,
But these don't hide it--
Love's all over the place!

They're after me--
Those fools don't know,
This chase runs in a circle:
Round and round we go;
For nothing can touch me
But what I have made, so...
They're chasing me with love,
They're hating me with love,
'Cause love's the only thing I ever made things of!


Circuit

(To be sung to the melody of the Beatles' "Is There Anything I Can Do")

Is there anything I can do
To unstick myself from this tune?
'Cause it goes around -
It goes round and round
And makes my mind a ruin.

O you think you're going somewhere -
Somewhere else you haven't been,
But you find when you arrive there,
You're caught - you're right back in....

Is there anything I can do...


Clear Song

Sitting on a bed,
Looking at a mirror,
Smiling at myself,
So clear!
And it's quite allright
If this is really me.
What a pleasant me
To be!

[Chorus:]

I'm here,
That's clear,
And things are just what they appear.

I just smile and smile,
No one's here to see.
There's nobody here
But me.
And it's quite allright--
Since this is really me--
For anyone at all
To see.

I'm here,
That's clear,
And things are just what they appear.

My, how well I smile!
Now let's see me frown...
Now make an ugly face...
Now bounce up and down.
And it seems quite safe
Being what I want to be...
Such an ugly me
To be!

I'm here,
That's clear,
And things are just what they appear.

Bouncing on the bed
Like a little kid,
All the bedsprings creak:
"I did it!"
Although they seem to creak:
"This is really me";
They just creak and creak,
And I'm just really me.

I'm here,
That's clear,
And things are just what they appear.

See the body bounce
On the creaky bed
In a dusty room
Where nothing's being said
In a shadowy hotel
Where mine's the only light,
In the middle of L.A.
In the middle of the night.

I'm here,
That's clear,
And things are just what they appear.


Lost and Found

Find your hands and find your fingers,
Find your feet, find every toe.
Find your Mommy, find your Daddy,
Drink your milk or you won't grow!

See the Doggie! See the cow!
Find the pottie, the cookie jar.
Find the neighbors, find the store,
Find the phone, the girls, the car.

Chorus:

Find your partner, dos-a-dos.
Each thing is and then is not.
Self meets self, self loses self,
Self finds self, and that's the plot.

Find the mirror: Not so bad!
Hide things in drawers, the topmost shelf.
Find empty early morning streets.
Lose your parents, find yourself.

Find out what you must not say.
Learn to come and go with stealth.
In the backseat, find your way.
Find your true love, lose yourself.

Find your partner, dos-a-dos.
Each thing is and then is not.
Self meets self, self loses self,
Self finds self, and that's the plot.

Find out what you have to do,
Find a career, a mortgage loan.
Find out what you want to do.
Find a place to call your own.

Find a child and notice that
Long ago this child was you.
Find two people once called parents.
Find loss there and lose loss, too.

Find your partner, dos-a-dos.
Each thing is and then is not.
Self meets self, self loses self,
Self finds self, and that's the plot.

Find your country, find the world,
Find out what you won't condone.
Find your voice and silence, too.
Among your friends, find you're alone.

Find the good old days, find mourning.
Find your future in the past.
Find a new ache every morning,
Kids are grown, friends going fast.

Find your partner, dos-a-dos.
Each thing is and then is not.
Self meets self, self loses self,
Self finds self, and that's the plot.

Find some useful things to do.
TV? Cards? Get through the days.
Read yourself to sleep each night.
Lose yourself in memory's maze.

Find your fingers, catch your breath,
Shed the weight of health and wealth.
Find your cold toes, catch your death,
Lose yourself and find yourself.

Find your partner, dos-a-dos.
Each thing is and then is not.
Self meets self, self loses self,
Self finds self, and that's the plot.


Humanoid!

O when I see one walkin' down the street,
How my heart flips over and skips a beat,
Whether girl or boy, black as ink, pink as Floyd,
As long as it's vaguely HUU-manoid!

O! they wiggle their mouths & they make such funny noises
And they wrap themselves in cloth, just as cute as any toys is
And they moan and scream and have such silly crises
Just because the girls ain't exactly what the boys is!

[Chorus:]
O they smile so sweet & they blush so naughty!
When they oppose their thumbs, I wanna scream "O Lawdy!"
'Cause I love them humanoid bodies,
Just can't get enough of that humanoid body!
Tell the truth, Dr. Ruth!
Ain't you hoid, Dr. Freud!
You just can't help but love 'em 'cause they're HUU-manoid!

And when they come a walkin' down the street,
Why they stand right up on their big hind feet!
And when they look right at you with their big bright eyes,
You think they understand you 'cause they look so wise!

Now cats are cuddly, little dogs are cute,
But they look like idiots in a tie and suit,
And I can't get excited 'bout an anthropoid--
I don't monkey with apes 'cause they ain't HUU-manoid!

O they live in little boxes & they work in big boxes
And they go from box to box in flocks of movin' boxes
Or they walks, clip clop, to the ticktocks of their clockses
With their cute little feet all packed in shoes and soxes.

Whether short fat Fanny or long tall Sam,
Fox or bag, stud or nerd, I don't give a damn!
Look! Down on the sidewalk! It's a bug! It's a boid!
Why no! Look closer! It's a HUU-manoid!

O they smile so sweet & they blush so naughty!
When they oppose their thumbs, I wanna scream "O Lawdy!"
'Cause I love them humanoid bodies,
Just can't get enough of that humanoid body!
Tell the truth, Dr. Ruth!
Ain't you hoid, Dr. Freud!
You just can't help but love 'em 'cause they're HUU-manoid!

O their blood's bright red, such pretty stuff,
Mouths full of tiny teeth--I can't get enough!
Without one to call my very own, my life's a void!
Got to get myself a little HUU-manoid!

O they love to fuss & fret & fume--
Makes 'em feel so special to be deep in gloom! /continued/
If this song has anyone in this room annoyed,
You can bet it's a sweet little HUU-manoid!

Mr. Spok, what's the reading? Are they human race?
Yes, Captain, to the ninety-ninth decimal place!
'Cause we love them humanoid bodies,
Just can't get enough of that humanoid body!
Tell the truth, Dr. Ruth!
Ain't you hoid, Dr. Freud!
You just can't help but love 'em 'cause they're HUU-manoid!
...huumanoid...humanoid...humanoid...
[fade-out]


So Alone Here

We're so alone here.
It's awfully lonely to be life.
We're so alone here,
No one here but you and me
and every dog & cat & bird & fish & bug & tree.
We're so alone here.

You can talk to whatever's on the phone.
You can talk to a headache or a gastric cancer.
You can talk to a rock, but the rock don't answer.
You can talk to a husband or a wife
Or a friend or a cop or a clerk or a mugger with a knife.
You can talk to people 'til they turn to stone...
And many do, they answer you
With plastic smiles and love like glue.
That's why it's so lonely to be life,
All alone here.

I went for a walk, almost everyone I met
was wearing a car.
One man on his feet was mumbling, dead set
on being a machine.
When Brer Rabbit tried so hard to get
an answer from the tar,
Baby, the tar talked back, said "Help! Let
me out!"--weren't no rabbit to be seen!

Now you see us, now you don't, like rabbits from a hat.
Easier to be a machine or a body or a stone than that.
What difference what bad things I've done if I'm not here at all?
And if the ones I did things too weren't there at all?

We're so alone here.
It's awfully lonely to be life.
We're so alone here,
No one here but you and me
and every dog & cat & bird & fish & bug & tree.
We're so alone here.

The world's getting crowded with loneliness like bodies in beds.
We can't find each other 'cause we're stuck tight
in talking heads.
Beneath the flesh you find blood and bone,
but there's no one there.
What's the fun of hiding when the others quit
long ago and you're still hidden,
but you can't remember where?

If nobody finds you, how in hell can you ever go home?
And how can you say, "ha! ha! I'm right here!
Been here all along!"
If you can't find yourself, who you gonna find?
Who's gonna find you?
If we can't find each other, what,
besides walking home alone kicking a stone,
are we gonna do?

We're so alone here.
It's awfully lonely to be life.
We're so alone here,
No one here but you and me
and every dog & cat & bird & fish & bug & tree.
We're so alone here.

There's no one here but me and you, and if I stare in the mirror
I start to get unsure about you--and then I can't find me,
Can't find a dog, a cat, a bird, a flower or a tree.
If you can hear my song, then I guess there's someone here.

Maybe that's why I'm hard to find--I hid in a song
That no one'd ever sung--been hiding here all along.
Maybe we're all hiding here, birds of a feather,
Singing, "I'm so alone here," all of us, singing together.

We're so alone here.
It's awfully lonely to be life.
We're so alone here,
No one here but you and me
and every dog & cat & bird & fish & bug & tree
& cow & blade of grass & gnat & flee.
We're so alone here.

You can talk to whatever's on the phone.
You can talk to a headache or a gastric cancer.
You can talk to a rock, but the rock don't answer.
You can talk to a husband or a wife
Or a friend or a cop or a clerk or a mugger with a knife.
You can talk to people 'til they turn to stone...
And many do, they answer you
With plastic smiles and love like glue.
That's why it's so lonely to be life,
All alone here.


You're Not There

Here I stand alone beside my unmade bed,
Looking out the window at the morning light.
My head's abuzz with a million things that went unsaid--
Seems it took a year just getting through last night.

Nothing in this room that wasn't touched by you.
Everything I see is losing you again.
Pictures, chairs, my lips and hands and fingers too--
These were once my friends; I can't remember when.

Half the closet looks so bare,
The bathtub soap--a strand of hair.
I ought to move out, somewhere new,
But that's like losing the loss of you.
This loss is the only thing I've got,
'Cause you're not there.

It's bound to pass, my mind tells me,
But forever's all my heart can see.
Losing you is never done--
You've even touched the morning sun.
Everywhere I look you're not:
You're just not there.

How come the more you're not there,
The more I find you everywhere?
Find you, lose you everywhere
when you're not there.

I shave myself with care 'cause I don't trust myself;
Who's that red-eyed geek keeps staring out at me?
Just my toothbrush looking lonely on the shelf.
Keep doing just to do, being just to be.

Catch myself with one shoe on just sitting here--
Got to keep on moving--come on, tie my shoe.
I try to think of bringing another woman here,
Lying in her arms and knowing she's not you.

Remember how--no, don't do that.
Make plans--for what? Let in the cat.
The cat wants food. I'll feed the cat.
I'll think of something after that.
You're gone, you're gone--I close my eyes
And you're right there.

I'll leave this box of walls and floor--
A big blue box outside the door.
How did your leaving shrink the sky?
You're like an eyelash in my eye.
If I get through this, will I be wise?
And do I care?

How come the more you're not there,
The more I find you everywhere?
Find you, lose you everywhere
when you're not there.

Maybe I'll get through this--I don't feel so dead...
Till I catch myself explaining it to you.
All these years have you been here inside my head?
Must I lose myself to free myself of you?

A clump of grass, a leaf, a twig, a maple tree...
If I touch this tree, it seems to touch me back.
This is where I am; I guess that I'm still me.
I guess it's really me that I want back.

It's bound to pass, my mind tells me,
But forever's all my heart can see.
Losing you is never done--
You've even touched the morning sun.
Everywhere I look you're not:
You're just not there.

How come the more you're not there,
The more I find you everywhere?
Find you, lose you everywhere
when you're not there.


I Gave My Love

I gave my love a cheesecake with no sugar or fat;
I gave my love a woods without mosquito or gnat;
I gave my love a pill that can kill the blues;
I gave my love a planet with no bad news.

How can there be a cheesecake with no sugar or fat;
How can there be a woods without mosquito or gnat;
How can there be a pill that can kill the blues;
How can there be a planet with no bad news.

A cheesecake of plastic has no sugar or fat;
A woods sprayed with poison has no mosquito or gnat;
The pill a shrink gives you can kill the blues;
A planet with none alive has no bad news.

[Note: This song imitates an old ballad that starts with "I gave my love a cherry without a pit" (or is it "without a stone"?) and leads to "I gave my love a baby with no crying.]


This Song is Not a Butterfly

CHORUS:

This song is not a butterfly.
This song is not a bird.
This song is not a lover's kiss.
All that is quite absurd.

For if my songs were butterflies
They'd flutter to and fro.
You'd hardly catch a word of them -
Your ears are much too slow.

You couldn't grab ahold of them -
If captured they would die.
Whoever heard of songs like that -
that die when they can't fly?

This song is not a butterfly.
This song is not a bird.
This song is not a lover's kiss.
All that is quite absurd.

For if my songs were birds, my dear,
All day you'd hear their sound,
But not know where it's coming from -
Here, there...and all around.

They'd pull your hearts up and away
To follow where they're bound.
Whoever heard of soaring songs
That rarely touch the ground.

This song is not a butterfly.
This song is not a bird.
This song is not a lover's kiss.
All that is quite absurd.

For if this were a lover's kiss,
Who knows were that would lead! -
To wakefulness, despair or bliss,
Content or greater need?

A lover's kiss can fill with life
Or make you cry or bleed.
How could a song cut like a knife
Or plant a living seed?

This song is not a butterfly.
This song is not a bird.
This song is not a lover's kiss.
All that is quite absurd.

What this song is I cannot say.
It's just what you have heard.
It came to me the other day -
I have not changed a word.

I don't know what on earth it's for -
If YOU know, please tell me.
And that's my song - there's little more,
For as you can plainly see:

This song is not a butterfly.
This song is not a bird.
This song is not a lover's kiss.
All that is quite absurd.


Old Song [1960's]

[Note: This was an early and rather silly attempt to riff some songlike lyrics. I now find it pretentious and imitative, but it has its moments, so what the hell?]

Reach your hand into the fire -
Redness reaches higher and higher.
Watch the writhing of her hair.
Pluck the lotus blossom bare.

Chorus:

All the world
Stands unfurled,
Wilting in the sun.
No winds pass
Through the grass.
We are all undone.

Sand retreats before the wave.
The salt sea has a salty crave.
I hide my head in empty air,
But what is there is there - is there.

(Chorus)

Echoes make the sky a cave.
Ripples yearn to break, be brave.
The bird now turning in the sky
Will leave behind his turning cry.

(Chorus)

One bee on a silver petal
Makes a gold and silver metal.
One blind hand to reach and grope,
One hair in a bar of soap.

(Chorus)

The wiseman set his hair afire,
The fool set out to find a buyer.
The world is laced with copper wire,
A lyre of flame to burn the liar.

(Chorus)


Pollution Song

I pass a few trees every day,
but it's hard to hear just what they say
over the screaming of concrete
and muttering moaning asphalt street.

Onward the cars to work undaunted.
We have made the world we wanted.
"We? O No! It's all a mistake!
We're strangers in a world WE didn't make."

See, there's a tiny sprig of green
between the cracks, almost obscene.
Mornings you sometimes hear a bird.
Butterflies? Don't be absurd!

Onward the cars to work undaunted.
We have made the world we wanted.
"We? O No! It's all a mistake!
We're strangers in a world WE didn't make."

Yes, it's a world made by strangers
to themselves, the lone arrangers,
Hi Yo Silver away..." Who WAS
that masked man anyway? Why does
he hide his face?" Out of the daze
of yesteryear in his cloud of haze....
Unmask! Poems, trees, and poisoned dust
are made by foolish gods like us.

Onward the cars to work undaunted.
We have made the world we wanted.
"We? O No! It's all a mistake!
We're strangers in a world WE didn't make."

Poor little strangers, so strange,
yes, strangers, so strange,
We're strangers in a world we never made.


Pumpkin

[This rather ribald song needs to be performed with a fast rap beat with voices crying out in various tones ranging from bored to orgiastic: "PUMP!" OR "PUMP IT!" at key rhythmic climaxes. Lines should be chanted like cheerleader yells.]

Pump all alone
Pump on the phone
Pump to the bone
Pump it on home
PUMP! PUMP!
Pumpernickel
Pumperdime
Pump her quarters
Head or hind
HUMP RUMP!
Pump -- it's on fire!
Pump -- it's getting higher
Pump -- put it out
Pump -- with a shout!
Pump fireman!
Pump higher man!
JUMP! BUMP!

Pump it fast
Pump -- let it blow
Pump -- make it last
Pump your sister
Pump your brother
Pump it, Mister
Pump each other
Pump that hose
Pump till it glows
Pump -- no one knows
Pump -- there it goes

Pump that doggy
Pump that sheep
Pump that pussy
In your sleep
Pump at noon
Pump to the moon
Pump all night
Out of sight

FIRE FIRE!
MAN THE PUMPS!
(pump the man!)
We're going DOWN!...UP!...down...

PUMP for your life!
PUMP for your wife!
PUMP! PUMP!


Somewhere

[Theme for jazz improvisation]

I'm moving along,
There's nowhere to go,
I got to keep goin',
Got to be goin'
Somewhere (...somewhere...somewhere...somewhere)

Wherever I go,
Whatever I do,
Whoever I know --
O why do I feel
I'm nowhere (...nowhere...nowhere...nowhere)

Got to be going
somewhere, there
must be a somewhere
somewhere (...somewhere...somewhere)

What are we here for
if every
time we get there it's
nowhere (...nowhere...nowhere)

There's nowhere to go
And nowhere to stay,
I got to be moving,
Got to be going
Somewhere...somewhere.


I Wish It Could Be Different

[Aims at a Country-Western approach.]

I wish it could be different,
But I've got to hit the road.
If I stay where I'm half wanted,
I turn into a toad.

Just wish it could be different.
I guess you wish it too.
We'll both find something better --
Well, not better, maybe new.

I wish it could be different.
We had it pretty good.
If I could put it in a bottle
To sell, by God, I would!

Chorus:
They call that star the pole star.
It sure does pull on me --
Or maybe I'm being pushed away
By something I can't see.

It's hard to see what isn't there.
I wonder where it went.
It's like having my pockets
Weighed down by what's been spent.

The night feels big and empty.
I'll drive till it gets light --
Drown my little emptiness
In a great big empty night.

I wish it could be different,
I wish I was that star,
Could see you every night from there --
it doesn't seem so far.

I wish it could be different.
I wish to hell it could.
Things change, but I'd be happy
If it was half as good.

We'll both be something different.
Things change -- even that star.
Goodbye. I've got a heavy date
With a road map and a car.

They call that star the pole star.
It sure does pull on me --
Or maybe I'm being pushed away
By something I can't see.

It's hard to see what isn't there.
I wonder where it went.
It's like having my pockets
Weighed down by what's been spent.

The night feels big and empty.
I'll drive till it gets light --
Drown my little emptiness
In a great big empty night.


 

Last updated: January 7, 2006