Monday, October 31, 2016

my overused imagination


it was before computers
before my life had grades
before decaf coffee was chosen
over high-sucrose lemonade
I was a brown-skinned boy searching 
in the desert for some shade
on permanent summer vacation
in my overused imagination

in my mind's eye I would conjure
the life I should have had
a blonde movie star for mom
a TV actor for my dad
and how they used to treat me
whenever I was bad
this was not a good situation
for my overused imagination

I had imaginary family
I had imaginary friends
it was one or two levels
beyond playing and pretend
it was an imaginary means
to an imaginary end
but I never changed the station
from my overused imagination

and as I grew up
my imagination grew and grew
and grew to a place
I did not want it to
crashing at the end of
desperation avenue
with everything I had mistaken
in my overused imagination

standing on the borders
of these countries in my head
with the guards all giving orders
I don't remember what they said
the next day I was discovered
shaking
screaming
shivering in my bed
and this human heart a-racing
because of my overused imagination

I've done everything I know
to make my visions all disperse
but all my vain attempts to fight
only seem to make it worse
I still don't know if dreaming
is a blessing or a curse
or just another try at salvation
from my overused imagination


I'm gonna love you (rewrite)


you can try to stop me
you could move on to somebody else
you can try to stop me
but I'll be here in sickness and in health
and I'm gonna love you
until you can learn to love yourself

you can try to outrun me
but it ain't gonna do no good
plead your case to me, honey
you'll only be misunderstood
'cause I'm gonna love you
like someone who believes in you would

          you have no idea
          the strength you're made of
          until you do
          I'm giving you
          all of my love

you can try to ignore me
treat me like I'm made of dirt
but I know your life story
so ignoring me ain't gonna work
I'm gonna love you
till I can love away all of the hurt

you can try to stop me
you could move on to somebody else
you can try to stop me
but I'll be here in sickness and in health
and I'm gonna love you
until you can learn to love yourself


Sunday, October 30, 2016

what I learned from Mario


what I learned from Mario
was that deep inside I'm just like him
in an ocean of confusion
learning to swim
and finding my way around
what I learned from Mario
was deep inside I'm 15 years old
but I am not a child, I'm told
and I know
that I'm a full-grown man
that's what I am
but there's something inside
that wants to argue
I'm still here


Saturday, October 29, 2016

trigger warning


everything sets me off
it doesn't matter what I see
balloons and flowers
sunshine showers
they all seem like death to me


Friday, October 28, 2016

normal


I want to be normal
I want to be just like you
'cause you are so cool
and you don't even know it
I want to talk like you
walk like you
draw hopscotch with chalk like you
and when I finally do
I will be normal
I will be normal
too


Thursday, October 27, 2016

fishing for answers


I hope the bait is taken
I've done everything I oughta
you know it's down there waiting
deep underneath the water
hook, line and sinker
starboard and port
you ask me why
this is my retort
I'm fishing for answers
I'm fishing for answers

hand me my fishing pole
right now the tide is high
go down to the fishing hole
I got some fish to fry
I need to learn
a lot of stuff
this life I live
is too damn rough
I'm fishing for answers
I'm fishing for answers

          I don't know nothing
          about nothing
          about nothing 
          about myself
          this life I'm living
          is giving me hell
          I got some questions
          and more questions
          did I mention
          I don't know
          you tell those questions
          at the bottom of the sea
          look out below

I may flounder around a bit
you may think me pretty odd
but this ain't for the halibut
I swear to cod
crown and anchor
fishing boat
I'm merely trying 
to stay afloat
I'm fishing for answers
I'm fishing for answers
I'm fishing for answers
ssshh...
I think I caught one


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

disability song


(to the tune of the William Tell Overture)

I have disability
I have disability
I have disability
I have disability

everything takes too much time
when you have disability
that is why I drink the wine
because of disability

if I'm moving too slow 
please go jump in the lake
I am disabled
give me a beak

I have disability
I have disability
I have disability
I have disability


therapy limerick: spirituality


some people may find it quite odd
or my philosophy is flawed
but as far as religion
I've made my decision
and I'm all right living with God


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

this is me today


(written for a collage I created in an expressive therapy group, as part of my intensive mental health rehab)

this is me today
swallowed up by broken dreams
scattered like color photos
torn out of a magazine

there I am, up on that mountain
climbing up above the town
gazing at the far horizon
not afraid of falling down

there I am, hiking hills
spring and summer, winter, fall
I am green and blue and yellow
and I am a part of them all

there I am, peacefully sleeping
in the woods, inside my tent
I am not thinking about trouble
I do not care where trouble went

but these are dreams; they are not real
I'm still sitting in this wheelchair
thinking: these are dreams, they are not real
but that doesn't mean there's nothing there

sometimes I throw all hope away
but for now I'll dream
this is me today


Monday, October 24, 2016

Life compass 2: future plans


Parenting: For me, this is more about working with and being around children. I'd like to be more comfortable around children (hell, I'd like to be more comfortable around everybody); I'd like to have more patience around them too.

Personal growth: Yes, please, and supersize it. I would like to feel connections with other people. I'd like to be less afraid and lonely. I'd like to feel comfortable in my own skin. I'd like to not have to feel so self-conscious all the time. I don't want to be afraid to like people. I want to find out who I really am and see what I can choose.

Leisure: I would really like to find something active and physical that I like to do. I would like to be outside more. I want to have the concentration to read a book again. I would like to find something that I would enjoy doing with other people.

Spirituality: This, I hope, is actually in pretty good shape. I would like to trust what I believe in more. This could be the conversation between me and God:

          Me: Quick, God, help me! The sky is falling!

          God:: Okay. (God fixes everything)

          Me: Quick, God, help me! The sky is falling again!

          (Repeat forever)

Health: I want to be not-fat. I want to be able to move freely. I want to be free of the need to eat all the fuckin' time. I want to eat healthy. One positive thing is that I've made good progress, but I want and need to make more. Also, I need to start looking at mental health and illness as a real thing and not some self-absorbed time waster. I actually have to convince myself of the importance of my own mental health. Sheesh.

Work: I want to work somewhere where I feel like I'm doing good for people and that lets me use my talents. I want a job where I'm treated with respect. I want a job where I don't have to feel afraid and a job I don't dread going to every single fuckin' morning. I want this. I can't continue where I work. It's gonna get really, really bad for me if I do. I mean, really bad.

Community and environment: I really would like to feel part of a community. I am part of the folk music community here in Portland, and that's where most of my friends come from. But I'd also like to be part of the world around me. I would love to live some place rural. I would like to be more involved with nature.

Family relationships: This actually goes pretty well for me. I would like to see my siblings and relatives in California more -- at least once a year at the family reunion. I hate that I have to lose weight to see them; not because of what any of them say but because I'm too fuckin' fat to go on an airplane.

Intimate relationships: I can't imagine that I'll ever be well enough to ever have them. Remember, I was sentenced to solitary confinement as a child.

Social relationships: I never really learned to make friends as a child and it's hard for me. I would really like to not be afraid to be close to people. It's really scary to me. But I've seen first-hand the damage that isolation can do. I'm sure I will always require more time alone than most. But I really need friends. I need to be close to people. I don't want to be alone all the time anymore. I want to feel like I'm a human being. I don't want to feel like a freak anymore. I want to belong .

Art and creativity: This will always be the main focus of my life. I want to get past the damage that happened to me when I wanted to be musical as a child. I want to be as unafraid in my songwriting. I want to write the unwritable. Is "unwritable" even a word?


kind


if you're kind
I promise you
that I will do my best
if you're kind 
I will trust myself
and let God do the rest


Sunday, October 23, 2016

working for the day


you ask me what I'm doing
I'm gonna tell you, son
I'm looking for salvation
and I've barely just begun
the shackles of my past
still got a hold on me
I'm working for the day
when I set myself free

I wake up every morning
with a new sense of dread
I shower, shave, and dress for work
then I crawl back into bed
I cry and I try
but trouble won't let me be
I'm working for the day
when I set myself free

          my brain is in
          the twilight zone
          reminding me of sins
          for which I can't atone
          I got memories
          that won't leave me alone
          and they're telling me
          I'm guilty, guilty

if I don't kill myself
and my instincts are good
I'm gonna get out of
this neighborhood
trouble's out to get me
but I disrespectfully disagree
I'm working for the day
when I set myself free
I'm working for the day
when I set myself free


Saturday, October 22, 2016

hippie guy


there's a hippie guy in a hippie shirt
baseball cap of red and white
showing off his culinary skills
for the locals on saturday night
he's a pizza chef extraordinaire
he throws that bad boy in the air
there's flour flying everywhere
but he don't care, no, no
he don't care

me, I'm silent in the corner
impatiently waiting for a slice
I want to ask hippie guy some questions
I think I need his advice
because I hear him laughing loud
unbothered by the hungry crowd
I would like to live that proud
but I'm not allowed, no, no
I'm not allowed

          I don't want to be me anymore
          I am so bored
          with always being ignored
          I can't be who I was before
          but nothing ever changes

the hippie guy in the hippie shirt's
singing like he's johnny cash
cooking for his customers
smelling like his secret stash
with a hint of pepperoni
he jokes with all his staff and cronies
not one trace of him is phony
I wish he could show me, hey, hey
I wish he could show me how

          I don't want to be me one more day
          I can't believe when you say
          that I'm okay
          no one needs me anyway
          and nothing ever changes

the hippie guy calls my number
and I go to grab my slice

to be continued...


Friday, October 21, 2016

genius or a fool


I look at the life I've lived so far
and wonder why I don't hit the bars
I must be a genius or a fool
I've made every mistake 
that you could make
but I'm still out there on the take
I must be a genius or a fool

          my friends all say I know one thing for certain
          something you should have always known
          you're always gonna be the one who's hurtin'
          if you insist you're doing fine alone

I don't know and I  don't care
I'm busy playing solitaire
I must be a genius or a fool
lock me in
turn out the lights
I'll be staying in tonight
I must be a genius or a fool


Thursday, October 20, 2016

gotta move on


I am trying to comprehend
what it means to be a friend
lately I'm out of practice
I'm attempting to understand
how everything got out of hand
how can I attack this
I gotta use the brains God gave me
I gotta find a way to save me
from the emptiness
from the pain
from the sadness
that remains
all the guilt
all the shame
will be gone
I gotta move on


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

But I'm going out there


Hey, man.

farmboy! Good to hear from you! Where have you been? What have you been doing? Are you all right?

Man, it's all been so fuckin' weird for so long. So here's the new stuff: I start going to mental health rehab next week, I start physical therapy for my hands tomorrow, I play my first paying gig tomorrow...

Excellent.

...then I have coffee with the occupational therapist from the first rehab, Chase. Which should be interesting, and I actually mean it in a good way.

So tonight I'm going to a podcast taping.

Which one, farmboy?

It's called Pop Culture Happy Hour. It's on NPR. It's a short bus ride and it will be good to get out.

Speaking of which, I probably should start getting ready to leave.

So everything's okay?

It's all right, yeah. I mean, I'm anxious but I'm always anxious. I'm sad and depressed but I'm always sad and depressed, man. You know that more than anybody.

But I'm going out. If I was in one of my fuckin' suicidal periods, I wouldn't. I would stay at home and smoke weed. But I'm going out there, man, out into the big world. Wish me luck.

Good luck, farmboy.

Thanks, man. It helps, you know?


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

bastards on barstools


bastards on barstools
talking some smack
about American attitudes
under attack


Monday, October 17, 2016

I may as well be a dog


I may as well be a dog
'cause I have those doglike qualities
now, I ain't talking 'bout no ticks and fleas
I'm talking 'bout
pat me on the head
buy me a chew toy
ask me
who's been a good boy
who's been a good boy
and I'll say it's me! it's me!
can't you see?
the good boy is me
and I love you


fuckin' wounded


I don't mean to sound 
so fuckin' wounded
but wounded is what I am
my self-esteem 
could stand some improvement
but my feelings
they don't give a damn
maybe I don't have 
whatever it takes
the only thing I'm good for
is making mistakes
my descension to depression
isn't pretty
but, hey, what is
when you're living
in self-pity city
I don't mean to sound 
so fuckin' wounded
but wounded's what I am


Sunday, October 16, 2016

sometimes the loneliness


sometimes the loneliness
gets in your soul
and it takes control
and it won't let go
sometimes the loneliness
thinks it knows what's best
sometimes the loneliness
gets in your eyes
and makes you cry
you don't know why
sometimes the loneliness
thinks it's an honored guest
sometimes the loneliness
makes you mean
you just want to scream
from the suffering
sometimes the loneliness
takes ownership
of everything

sometimes the loneliness
cuts so deep
that even counting sheep
won't help you sleep
sometimes the loneliness
thinks it's your best friend
sometimes the loneliness
hurts so bad
that you're more than sad
this ain't no disneyland
sometimes the loneliness
never seems to end
sometimes the loneliness
makes you do
what you don't want to 
like start anew
sometimes the loneliness
breaks your heart in two
it's true
but this time the loneliness
is coming right at you


Saturday, October 15, 2016

don't hit me


there's a boy 
in a corner
and his hollow eyes say
don't hit me
there's a million thoughts
from a million miles away
don't hit me
a worn-down belt
and a five year-old
you're gonna learn
to do as you're told
don't hit me

there's a boy 
and he's crawling
trying to escape
don't hit me
I'll teach you not
to make mistakes
don't hit me
you feel the rug
below your knees
this is the start
of your disease
don't hit me

ain't no truth
ain't no lies
don't hit me
Oh, I'll teach you
how to cry
don't hit me
welcome to your 
first memories
this is the start
of your disease
don't hit me
don't hit me
don't hit me
don't hit

put me to sleep


put me to sleep
sing me a lullaby
of vials of codeine
entering my veins
put me to sleep
I'm not yet a butterfly
I'm an ugly old caterpillar
yearning to change

I need to rest
hand me some medicine
I need that bottle
to calm down my nerves
watch some TV
man, I miss David Letterman
giving celebrities
what they deserve

          this is not how others
          live their lives
          or all we all pretending
          to survive

put me to sleep
pass me the pipe, my friend
and the wine
and the pretzels
and this week's TV Guide
put me to sleep
I'm saying goodnight, and then
hey, do me a favor
turn out the light


Friday, October 14, 2016

confused


I am so confused
my head is spinning like an old 45
tossing and turning into 
that old shuck and jive
it's a miracle I'm before you alive
'cause I am so confused


Thursday, October 13, 2016

when anything's too much to hope for


there is no bright side to look at
there's only the cold hard truth
dark as a drive on a midnight back road
cruel as the ending of youth 
I have no idea how I got here
no accounting for all of my sins
when anything's too much to hope for
that's when the ending begins

I once had the dreams of a farmboy
bright lights and big city fame
manhattan was my true playground
Broadway was my Christian name
but all of my hopes burned to ashes
when the needle hit my skin
when anything's too much to hope for
that's when the ending begins


Roz Larman, in Memoriam


This column is really from farmboy's creator, originally published (or posted, or whatever) on facebook)


My friend Roz Larman passed away a few days ago, and I'm still processing it. I first got to know Roz and her husband Howard during the first year of their KPFK show Folkscene. It was 1970 and I was in the process of wasting four years of my life in high school. For me, Folkscene was the real education. Through their show, Howard and Roz introduced me to a world of music that was so rich it was decadent. It's amazing to be a teenage songwriter and hear in-depth interviews with artists like Utah Phillips, Kate Wolf, Jim Ringer, Mary McCaslin, Tom Waits, and my true favorite, Randy Newman.

What was truly amazing was getting to know them personally. I wrote them a fan letter at age 14; amazingly, they wrote me back and we started having long-distance phone conversations and writing back and forth and I even got to hang out at their house when I got a little older. They also took me to hear my first live music, a bluegrass band out in Calabasas, California.

What Roz and Howard didn't know was that they were giving me meaning and direction in a life that had none. I went to a inferior high school with appallingly low standards; my mother was in and out of hospitals and slowly dying; I had almost no friends; and I had serious problems with severe depression and anxiety. Worst of all, adults refused to speak to me. I was a well-behaved Mexican-American -- nobody had to notice me.

What Howard and Roz never knew was that they were literally (and I know how to use that word correctly) the only adults who had actual conversations with me when I was a teenager. The only ones.

And what little lesson can we learn from this?

It's the quality, not the quantity, that matters.

Roz, I can never thank you enough. I love you. I will miss you. Like the Mary Ellen Carter, rise again.


if I committed suicide


if I committed suicide
think of the fun I would have
watching you feel guilty
oh, it would be such a laugh 
you'd be up long past midnight
crying "Oh no! What did I do!"
and what would be really hilarious
is that it wasn't about you

If I committed suicide
I doubt many people would care
unless, perhaps, after the funeral
you were fed chocolate eclairs
of which I have put in poison
(no one would guess it was me)
I'd watch everyone puke their guts out
and I'd be laughing with glee

           and from my station in heaven
           I'd have a front row seat
           it would be like TV every night
           watching you be unable to sleep

if I committed suicide
your suffering would have no end
you'd spend all your days and nights thinking
"I should have treated him as my friend"
maybe then you'd have a taste
of all the tears I cried
oh you'd be wrong
but I'd be right
if I committed suicide


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

my problem is


my problem is timing
my problem is luck
the problem is life
don't give a fuck
about my problems
life don't give a damn if I solve them
'cause the world don't revolve
around me
you see...

my problem is money
my problem is nerve
my problem is having a disease
I don't deserve
but enough about my problems
seems like all I do involves them
but the world don't revolve
around me
you see

my problem is not you
it's not society
my problem is not drugs
or the lack of sobriety
my problems are my problems
I would love to dissolve them
maybe that is my problem
maybe they're here
to stay


if anything can happen


if anything can happen
how come it never does
all I see are roadblocks
a never ending "just because"
"pull yourself by your own bootstraps"
"mind over matter"
"calming thoughts"
all make me feel guilty
for everything I'm not


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

back to my imaginary friends


I thought it was over
but it wasn't anywhere near the end
it's the same old same old lesson
I learn over and over again
my heart can't find a home
and I'm out here on my own
back to my imaginary friends


Assignment for therapy


The Life Compass

Parenting: Doesn't apply to me because I don't have children, but in working and interacting with children I want to be as kind and understanding and friendly as I can.

Personal growth: This is kinda what it's all about. I want to move closer to the person that's inside me instead of holding myself back and being a prisoner of my childhood. I feel like I'm banging my head against the wall in my search for personal growth sometimes. But what else is there to live for?

Leisure: I don't consider music leisure; it's my life's work. So taking that away, leisure seems to be pretty boring, with me being an observer: internet, occasionally watching something on Netflix. I don't have the concentration to read books anymore, which makes me sad. I like podcasts a lot. I like hearing the human voice. It helps me to be less lonely. I guess marijuana could be considered my main form of leisure. I would like to experiment with some other drugs.

Spirituality: Really important. Always has been. I can tell you more, but I'm generally pretty private about that stuff. One thing, though: I've had massive problems since I was a child with scrupulosity.

Health: Very important. This is one of the main mental problems I have. I'm so fat that I don't even feel like a human being. It alienates me from everything, including myself. I feel like I'm wearing my mental illness on the outside. Also, though, I would love to be in touch with my own physical-ness (when you don't know words, you can just make them up). I would love to find some physical that I enjoy doing. 

Work: It's important to me that I do something worthwhile with work. That being said, I feel that I've disappointed myself, that I could have done so much more. My current job is extremely unhealthy for me because I tend to believe it when people tell me I'm full of shit.
I feel that the life's biggest mistake was when I got the day job. I'm a songwriter and a musician. That's what I should have been doing all these years. With the exception of the children, my working life has been a massive failure. 

Community and environment: Becoming more important. Isolating myself keeps me away from community, which I desperately need but I'm afraid of. Or something like that.

Family relationships: I'm on good terms with my two brothers and my sister. I'm very close to my younger brother and his family, who live here in Portland. I talk to my other brother about once a week on the phone. We have gotten closer over time. I don't talk with my sister much, but we get along well. I love my big Mexican family and I miss my parents and my aunts and uncles and the others who have passed. I miss being around family.

Intimate relationships: I don't have any. I'm way too damaged for that. It is the saddest fact in my life. 

Social relationships: I have a hard time initiating friendships. Asking people if they'd like to meet for coffee is a major emotional production. Weirdly enough, I have a lot of friends and people I genuinely love. It's mostly because of my involvement with music and because I enjoy being friendly, at least on a superficial level. But I have a hard time reaching out (though I'm getting better) and I have very few close friends. I am always on guard with them. This is a complicated subject for me, as I was very socially isolated up until age 18. I also have some guilt issues with it because of my teenage years.

Art: My added category. This is my life's work, the reason I was born, and probably about a thousand other cliches. This -- well, and love, I guess -- is ultimately what my life is for.


Monday, October 10, 2016

nothing matches


nothing on my outside
matches my inside at all
I'm big as a house
but inside I'm feeling really small 
it's a look that I'm sure
doesn't become me at all
nothing on my outside
matches my inside at all


Kevin


I remember Kevin
I thought he was so cool
he was the only friend I had
when I was in high school
he'd helped me with my problems
and when I was feeling bad
Kevin was the older brother
I didn't know I had

Kevin told me about Kerouac
and books like catcher in the rye
he said his favorite beatles' song
was lucy in the sky
he taught me to jump up and down
but not for healthy needs
but for getting your heart pumping
it's more fun for smoking weed

he said this may be your only life
so don't let it go to waste
he was so smart
I wish I could 
have met him face to face
I only really knew him
as a voice caring and kind
from that place people call
when they're thinking suicide

I remember Kevin
I thought he was so cool
he was the only friend I had
when I was in high school


Sunday, October 9, 2016

pretend


only for one moment
just for right now
pretend
everything will be okay
when you think 
you're seeing trouble
look the other way
sometimes all you can do is

pretend
you know it's not real
but desperate times call
for drastic measures
in your imagination 
there are treasures
it's okay
just for today
pretend


Saturday, October 8, 2016

king of the coffee shop


I can't take any more wild parties
I think it may be time for me to stop
I'm through with Jose Cuervo and Bacardi
I wanna be king of the coffee shop

yeah, all I want are long conversations
about God and art and a world that's absurd
but everyone these days has reservations 
of anything with more than seven words

          a slice of boysenberry pie
          and a big hot cup o' Joe
          and somebody
          maybe you
          someone I'd like to know

I don't want to hear any idle chatter
I don't want to hear "I need to leave" again
I want to get to what we think that matters
I want some real time with real friends

          a slice of boysenberry pie
          and a big hot cup of Joe
          and some time that's one-on-one
          with the good friends that I know

so if you're feeling lonely
and trouble's put you on the spot
you'll know where to find me
I'm the king of the coffee shop


All this, by the way, is my choice


So I'm not sure when I spoke to you last, man. There's all this stuff going on.

Good stuff, I hope.

Some good, some I-don't-know. You know, it's hard. Every day is fuckin' hard, man. Every day I have a meltdown or two. Or three.

Did I tell you I'm gonna be going to an intensive rehab place again? 

Is everything all right with your legs, farmboy? 

Well, no. I'm still in the process of healing as far as that goes.

But what I'm doing is going to an intensive rehab for emotional issues.

Seriously? I didn't even know they had those.

Me neither. It's for, like, three days a week. I'm outpatient, so at least for now I'll be sleeping at home at night.

All this, by the way, is my choice. I asked this new therapist if such a thing existed and he told me about this.

I think this will be good for you, farmboy. I'm really proud of you for doing this, and for seeking it out. I think you're going to be just fine, farmboy.

I don't know, man. I'm putting in the work, I'm making the effort. I may not know a lot of things, but I know how to work.


Friday, October 7, 2016

you are loved


while I'm getting up in years
and still have my wits about me
here's what I want you to hear
when it's time to live without me
you are smart
you are strong
you're my friend
you belong
you make it through
when times get tough
you are loved

I may not be here to see
but that don't mean I'm gone
I'll speak to you in memory
and love you as you carry on
you are strong
you are smart
there's always room
inside your heart
you know exactly
what you're made of
you are loved

          you say no one's ever told you
          well, I'm telling you now

you make me laugh
you are wise
I see kindness
shining in your eyes
like the brightest
stars above
you are loved
you are loved