Friday, November 17, 2017

my sweetest revenge, rewrite one


in the school of life
it's been lessons cruel and hard
I majored in stress and loneliness
and studied every scar
I've been hurt and hurt again
but I guess it all depends
on which side you're fighting on
welcome to my sweetest revenge

maybe I'll forgive you
maybe I won't
maybe I'll forgive you
even though I don't
want to forgive you
you'll always be my friend
in the safety of my memory
in the safety of
my sweetest revenge


Thursday, November 16, 2017

I don't want to hope


I don't want to hope
but I can't help it
it keeps me up all night
it helps even though
inside I know
nothing ever works out right
but still I hope
just like a dope
that hope is always there
I don't want to hope
but I can't help it
I'd rather be prepared

          for hard times and trouble
          and pain and misery
          better hurry on the double
          man, trouble's looking for me


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

my sweetest revenge


in the school of life
it's all been lessons cruel and hard
I majored in loneliness
and studied every scar
I've been hurt and life's been mean
but I guess it all depends
on which side you're fighting on
welcome to my sweetest revenge


starting over every day


every day in every way
everything is not okay
nothing ever seems to change
I'm starting over every day

all the lessons I have learned
every bridge I had to burn
all wisdom that is all hard earned
forgotten now with no return


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

in my freedom


today I walked out my front door
I felt something I'd never felt before
and it was freedom
of course, I'm not really free
never have been and never will be
but it was freedom
it's a feeling
deep in my bones
a feeling
previously unknown
and somehow 
I feel strangely at home
in my freedom


Monday, November 13, 2017

imagination


my imagination 
is tired of working overtime
picking up the pieces 
of this puzzling life of mine
every step I take
is always sadly out of line
but ask me how I'm doing
I'll say I'm doing fine
give me a high five
I'll slap your hand back
but mental illness
is on the attack


Sunday, November 12, 2017

old shoes hanging


old shoes hanging on a telephone wire
singing of hymns from some old church choir
me, I'm a loaded gun for hire
and now I'm in this Navy town
Sunday morning in a greasy spoon
I get nervous looking around this room
what I'm doing I will know too soon
before the sun comes down


Saturday, November 11, 2017

when you're yesterday


life don't mean much
when you wake up every morning
to the same sorry sadness in the mirror
it just don't mean much
when you're cleaning your glasses
but you still can't see any clearer
and it don't mean much
no matter what you do
because no one will hear what you say
when you're yesterday


still searching


I don't mean to sound melodramatic
but I can't see any sense of hope
here's a list of what I do
to make it through
to help me cope
first off, I take the blame
I know it's all my fault
guilt's my Christian name
maybe it is by default
take whatever I say
with a grain of salt
(consider the source
he's just a little off course
just ask the folks 
on the police force)
but I'm still searching
I'm still searching


Friday, November 10, 2017

philosophy of songwriting


as for songwriting
this is all I've really learned:
I am the muse's bitch


I will grow stronger


like a man locked up in prison
performing push-ups in his cell
I will grow stronger
the longer
I am kept down
I am making the decision
to no longer hate myself
I will grow stronger
every day


Thursday, November 9, 2017

rolling downhill


stop me
I am rolling downhill
faster and faster
against my own free will
it's a disaster
this ain't no fairground thrill
stop me
it's atop me
and it takes all my skill 
to stop it
or delay it as much
as I can
a human touch
is more than I can stand
I am rolling down hill
faster and faster
please help stop me now


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

november in Portland


gray comes to Portland
like a drunken stepfather
taking off his belt


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

what I'm not supposed to hear


it's not a secret
what you think of me
you put it out there
for all our little world to see
but this time you got me
I can't believe my ears
I heard what 
I'm not supposed to hear

ever since I was a child
I've been the damage of good intentions
you all just mean the best
you just take the wrong direction
if I'm not up to your standards
say it to me plain and clear
instead it's something
I'm not supposed to hear


Monday, November 6, 2017

at this party


quick
get me my klonopin
break out the weed
isolation
is what I need
would you be
a friend indeed 
and get me out of here
because I'm going
to blow my top
and my volcanic rage
ain't gonna stop
in other words
I'm gonna interrupt
the entire atmosphere

          we need to go now
          I don't know how
          but I shouldn't be allowed
          at this stupid party

I need to find
an exit out
you don't want
to hear me shout
what the fuck
is this all about
let me make this clear
I'm gonna act
like a terrorist
you'll be so
embarrassed
better call 
my therapist
and get me out of here

          we need to go now
          I don't know how
          but I shouldn't be allowed
          at this party

if we don't leave this party
soon I'm gonna scream
I can give you a preview
if you don't know what I mean

          we need to go now
          I don't know how
          but I shouldn't be allowed
          at this party


Sunday, November 5, 2017

music is the only thing I trust


music is the only thing I trust
everyone will let you down
it's not their fault
because they must
because they are only human
basically like you
you run around like headless turkeys
incapable of knowing what to do


Saturday, November 4, 2017

complicated


let's make everything complicated
let's make sure nothing gets done
let's brainstorm and have more meetings
let's second guess everyone
let's talk and talk and talk and talk
professionals are we
let's impress each other
and pretend we all agree

          everything I say
          they tell me I'm all wrong
          everything I am
          they say doesn't belong


Friday, November 3, 2017

Shreveport


she moved back to Shreveport
to the house where she was a kid
to the house of memories
the house where her mom and dad had lived
now they were gone
like the summer
and the summer before
now they are gone
and they ain't coming back no more
to Shreveport


Thursday, November 2, 2017

ashen sky


sun breaks through an ashen sky
please don't take it away
I've had as much darkness
as a man can stand
if I ask for reasons why
please don't turn me away
I'm sorry I can't
cheer up on demand


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

speed dial


I do everything 
I'm supposed to do
except maybe 
a thing or two
or three or four
or even more
I got no idea
what's in store
don't tell me
I'm in denial
I got the suicide hotline 
on speed dial


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

ducks


outside this window
Halloween is happening
children sound like ducks


Monday, October 30, 2017

dialects


it's like we live in different countries
requesting separate checks
speaking our own languages
in our local dialects


Sunday, October 29, 2017

act like a grownup


I may have learned
how to act like a grownup
but I've never been good 
at playing the role
I can't remember my lines
sometimes I don't show up
I don't have my character
under control
I miss my marks
can't concentrate
never learned how to
e-nun-ci-ate
a single sonnet
or a Shakespeare play
I learned somehow
to act like a grownup
you can't believe a word I say


Saturday, October 28, 2017

humble haiku


if I love my words
when they fit to melodies
I may be too vain


Friday, October 27, 2017

autobiography


I'm reading your autobiography
such excitement I never did see
I guess I should feel jealousy
'cause nothing ever happens to me
except loneliness and pain and stress
what I would do to see success
instead all I am is depressed
trying to measure up to second best
it's all a mess
my fault I guess
it's not that I don't try my best
I put in the work
but it still don't work
nothing ever works


Thursday, October 26, 2017

birthday


today's my birthday
so why do I feel guilty
for eating pizza


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

I can't


it's time to leave
it's time to move on
but I can't
my feelings are bent
my feet are stuck in cement
so I can't
I'm gonna stay right here
the reasons ain't clear
but I'm being sincere
c'mon, give me a clue
give me a hint what to do 
I just continue
to feel bad
to be sad
it's time to be gone
it's time to move on
but I can't


Tuesday, October 24, 2017

'cause nothing ever works


I used to try to tie my shoes
instead I'm using Elmer's glue
normal shoestrings just won't do
'cause nothing ever works
I used to look on the sunny side
but not I simply run and hide
perhaps consider suicide
'cause nothing ever works


Monday, October 23, 2017

eggshells


everything's a trigger
whatever I hear or touch or see
I'm always walking on eggshells
and there's no one here but me

everything's a trigger
I cannot go outside
I must stay under the covers
and dry these tears I've cried

everything's a trigger
be careful what you do
'cause if everything's a trigger
then you're a trigger, too


Sunday, October 22, 2017

mental illness mental health


mental illness
meet mental health
shake hands and
introduce yourselves
you've got stuff in common
you might need to talk
may I suggest a diner
or a nice long walk

mental health
meet mental illness
I know you're both
not used to stillness
but you could stand
some peace and quiet
it's good for you
c'mon, try it

          it's not your fault
          it's not your fault

mental illness, 
we know the pain
of bad science
overtaking the brain
but you're not evil
no hocus-pocus
it's that you're always
the main focus

and mental health,
you got it hard
you always wind up
bruised and scarred
but you always
make it out alive
it's a miracle
that you survive

          it's not your fault
          it's not your fault

mental illness
mental health
you both best
behave yourselves
'cause here I am
between you two
never knowing
what to do

          it's not my fault
          it's not my fault
          it's not my fault
          it's not my fault


Saturday, October 21, 2017

focus, boy


focus, boy
don't lose control
if the wheel won't start
then the wheel can't roll
that static
rustling around in your brain
is only the far-off roar
of a runaway train


Friday, October 20, 2017

storytelling #3: new conclusion


What I've learned since then is that winning is fun, but nothing can compare with the creation of the song. I've also learned that growing older is so good for my art. At 62, I'm not looking for my voice much anymore. Now I just want to use it. Which is why I'm booked for a CD release concert in May 2018 at artichoke music. You all are invited. 

Yeah, I'm no mockingbird anymore. These days, I feel more like a caterpillar right before it becomes a butterfly.

performance: "cocoon"


your good intentions


I'm the damage that you caused
with your good intentions
you say you didn't mean to harm me
but that's exactly what you did
the cops should enforce restraining laws
against your good intentions
your good intentions are the one thing
that God should forbid


Thursday, October 19, 2017

witness


rising of the sun
against all odds, the earth spins
you are a witness


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Storytelling #3, more


Introduction:

I just did what I was not supposed to do: make music. I swear, when I was born everybody got together for a meeting where people said "Paul wants to be a musician. Lets stop that now." I tried out for chorus in elementary school and was rejected. Do you know how bad you have to sing to be rejected from an elementary school chorus? I have two brothers. My parents wanted my older brother to play the pedal steel guitar in country bands. My younger brother was supposed to become a classical guitarist. Me -- my parents chose short order cook or accountant. I even had some so-called friends who arranged a small intervention me to tell me I should never sing. I remember waking up the following morning and singing with the radio, then stopping because I remembered what they said.

So I did the one musical skill I wasn't told I couldn't do. I became a serious songwriter. I started in the first grade. By the time I was an adult, I had a pretty big secret self-identity as a songwriter. 

Body:

It was around this time that I read about a songwriting competition at the Kerrville Folk Music Festival in the hill country of central Texas.

I entered, and was not selected for the new folk competition. I was furious and, from that moment on, determined to get in the contest.
  • entering year after year, writing constantly and sending in my best work
  • rejection year after year, every year the suspense and consequences becoming higher (suicide by pizza).
  • All the years this was happening, I started performing and recording while working a day job at a public library. I was also entering other songwriting competitions, and was selected for some and even was a winner at a couple of them.
  • entering and being selected to compete at Columbia River Folk Music Festival, performing songs that were Kerrville rejects
  • winning the competition
  • performance "I could be great at romance" (1 verse)
  • invitation to play main stage at Kerrville
I worked everyday for my appearance in front of the Kerrville audience.
  • being on stage and performance, Steve and Cindy, Alisa
  • realization that I was being paid, etc, for performing songs that had previously been rejected.
  • turning and facing the festival producer like a man possessed
  • getting called back for an encore. At Kerrville, everybody gets called back for a encore, but this was my encore.
  • I stayed up way late at the festival, got an official ride to my hotel room, got snacks from the vending machine, cranked up the free air-conditioning, and immediately fell asleep.
Conclusion:

So what did I learn? It's really fun to compete if you're the winner but, ultimately, it's only the song that matters. Everybody is working hard to express themselves in song as well as they can. It's hard work, and I became really uncomfortable with the idea of artistic competition. 

But it is fun to win and I felt like I had won in a big way. Which taught me this lesson: the combination of vindication and victory is the sweetest revenge of all.


Tuesday, October 17, 2017

I need your strength


from the first rooster crowing
to the dimming of the moon
I wander this world
through darkness and gloom and I
am only human
a breakers of laws
but today I am humble
because
I need your strength
I need your strength
I need your strength
I need your strength


Monday, October 16, 2017

cancel my subscription to the blues


I'm working
I'm trying
I'm saying goodbye 'n
I'm through with the daily news
it don't make no sense
and I'm late with the rent
cancel my subscription to the blues


Sunday, October 15, 2017

Storytelling #3 continued


Introduction:

song: Mockingbird

I just did what I was not supposed to do: make music.

  • discouragement of music making (school, father, friends)
  • I did the musical thing I wasn't told I couldn't do: I became a songwriter
  • by the age of 19, my self-identity was as a singer/songwriter. 
  • I entered the first songwriting competition I heard of: the Kerrville Folk Music Festival.

Body:

I entered, and was not selected for the new folk competition. I was furious and, from that moment on, determined to get in the contest.
  • entering year after year, writing and sending in my best work
  • rejection year after year, every year the suspense and consequences becoming higher
  • entering and being selected to compete at Columbia River Folk Music Festival, performing songs that were Kerrville rejects
  • winning the competition
  • invitation to play main stage at Kerrville
performance of "I Could be Great at Romance" (1 verse)

I worked everyday for my appearance in front of the Kerrville audience.
  • being on stage and performance, relax, Steve & Cindy, Alisa
  • realization that I was being paid, etc, for performing songs that had previously been rejected.
  • turning and facing the festival producer like a man possessed
  • I stayed up way late at the festival, got an official ride to my hotel room, got snacks from the vending machine, cranked up the free air-conditioning, and immediately fell asleep.
Conclusion:

So what did I learn? It's really fun to compete if you're the winner and that, ultimately, it really is only the song that matters. Everybody is working hard to express themselves in song as well as they can. It's hard work, and ultimately the real reward is the song itself.

But it is fun to win and I had won in a big way. Victory and vindication.is the sweetest revenge of all.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

brand new


now you've done it
you've stolen my heart
now you must pay the price
usually I analyze
the whole mess apart
but now I don't have to think twice
you caught me
now I don't know what to do
you got me questioning
if it's false or true
but I've found a love
that's brand new to me


Friday, October 13, 2017

I'm not sorry


I'm not sorry
this may come as a surprise
I'm not sorry
you cannot cut me down to size
I don't comprehend your logic
pay no attention to lies
there's nothing left to say except
I'm not sorry


Thursday, October 12, 2017

a good life


I was born a tumbleweed
way down in the desert
on the road to el centro
down Indio way
I was raised by the ocean
where the foghorn blows daily
in a shipping and navy town
where my memory stays

          when I go deep in that dark night
          when my days of labor are through
          I don't know if it's been a good life
          but I guess it'll have to do


every day like Christmas


some people wake up
every day like Christmas
me, I'm not one of them
once upon a time
I used to put them down
now I'm trying to let myself in


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

it's not working, rewrite one


you're at your hometown high school
you're in the tenth grade
you are in homeroom, hiding
under the desk and you're afraid
all the students, all the staff
are afraid and shaking, too
you can see the teacher
doing all she's been taught to do
but it's not working
it's not working

you've been through the drill before
but none of this seems real
why would anybody ask
what army jackets might conceal
but when you heard the shots
this time, you knew something was wrong
there was someone out there
who did not belong
nothing's working
it's not working

it started at the second lunch
you were bored in physics class
but you heard footsteps walking
down the hall and moving past
entering each classroom
shooting open every door
you pray and plead in silence
that they won't want any more
but it's not working
nothing's working

as you hear the squeaking
of sneakers from the hall
you think about your parents
and your friends, but most of all
you pray to your savior
you beg of your God
and then you hear
the turning of the doorknob
but it's not working
it's not working
it's not working
nothing's working


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

turn


I was driving down
life's longest one-way highway
then she made me turn


Monday, October 9, 2017

under the desk


I'm at my hometown high school
I am in the eleventh grade
I'm here in trig class, hiding
under the desk and I'm afraid
all the students, all the staff
are afraid and shaking, too
I can see the teacher
doing all she's been taught to do
but it's not working
it's not working

we've all been through the drill before
but none of this seems real
why would anybody ask
what their jackets might reveal
but when we heard the gunshots
we knew there was something going on
there was someone out there
who did not belong
nothing's working
it's not working

it started at the second lunch
thank God we were in class
I thought
until I heard the footsteps
down the hall and coming fast
they were entering each classroom
shooting open every door
I pray and plead in silence
that they won't want any more
but it's not working
nothing's working

and as we hear the squeaking
of sneakers from the hall
I think about my parents
and my sister, but most of all
I pray to my savior
I beg of my God
and then we hear
the turning of the doorknob
but it's not working
it's not working
it's not working
nothing's working


Sunday, October 8, 2017

all these words


there's all these words
that can't be heard
by my ears anymore
without triggering me
into some history
I've been through before
don't say anything friendly 
'cause I've heard it a million times
they're all just lies, you see
to cover up the fact
that you don't like me

there's all these dreams
all way too big
I know they'll cause me grief and
a lot of misery
get it off of me
or I'm going to leave and
watch nothing on TV
but game shows I can't win
don't call me your friend
I know you don't like me

there's all these thoughts
that should be shot
with my old BB rifle
I try to calm them down
keep them underground
make sure they're stifled
but they rise up again
like a gulf coast hurricane
I'll take the blame
I know you don't like me

there's all these words
that can't be heard
or I turn psychopathic
hand me the tissues
I've got more issues
than National Geographic
someday when the coast is clear
I might give myself a break
it may be a mistake
but I've got what it takes
even if you don't like me


Saturday, October 7, 2017

from across the street, rewrite three


the life I'm supposed to live
is across the street
I see you but I make sure
our eyes never meet
I can see the windows
were moonlight would stream in
when I was the magnet
of your touch, skin upon skin
I wish I could be again

I still see our boys
from across the street
showing off on skateboards
and the language that they speak
I can see your face
in the expressions that they wear
I can feel a love
that I once believed was shared
guess it was never really there

         what I recall
         I see it all
         from across the street

I see your new friends
from across the street
each one a new replacement
for the sorry likes of me
I hate every one of them
with all the rage inside me
I'm a ticking time bomb
and you're right there beside me
just waiting to ignite me

the man I deserve to be
is across the street
all my history 
is across the street
there's no place for me
across the street
but you can't erase me
across the street


Friday, October 6, 2017

Snake in the grass


I'm sorry to be calling so late, man, but it's been quite a while...

It's good to hear from you, farmboy. It has been a long time since we talked. What's up with you?

Not much, man. Right now I'm standing outside this place called the Watertrough  Saloon. I'm here to see this band that I don't know the name of, but my friend Dan is their keyboardist. They're very good.

But, you know me. I have to have these fuckin' feelings all the time. I'm in this bar and it's like the land of thin young good-looking white people out for a Friday night of fun and trying to get laid. And here I am, older than everybody, fatter than everybody, just another fuckin' songwriter that nobody's noticing. I feel so fuckin' out of place.

Just focus on the music, farmboy. I know you can do that. It's good for you to be out, and you can always get value out of the music. I know that about you.

Yeah, that's what I'll do. I can always write lyrics too.

You're a resourceful guy. So have you been writing? Last time we spoke you were writing up a storm.

I'm always writing. Whether I come up with winners and keepers is a whole different thing. But, you know, I enjoy writing songs. I'm actually writing some poetry, too. It's mostly bad but there's a couple that I like all right.

And you're doing storytelling...

I've got a gig coming up at the University of Portland. I've already done a couple outlines, but I need to start getting it the way I want. I'll start that in the next couple days.

How are you doing emotionally, farmboy?

You know me, man. I'm fuckin' sad all the damn time. If I'm not depressed, it's right under the surface. It's always waiting, like a snake in the grass, ready to strike. 

You wouldn't believe all the things I've been doing to try to salvage this sad, miserable life of mine. I see my therapist at least once a week, sometimes twice. I go to the gym. I have a trainer. I track everything I eat. I have a storytelling mentor who I work with, I have a physical therapist, I have a psychiatrist that monitors the medications I take for this shit -- I'm up to four now. I write every day, I play music every day. I exercise, I meditate every day. I try to eat correctly. No junk food, no processed food.

I'm trying, man, I'm trying, I really am. 

You're feeling sad tonight, aren't you?

Ah, man, I'm feeling out of place and I'm alone. I'm enjoying the music, but I'm looking forward to being back home with a pipeful of weed. 

Yeah, I guess I'm depressed. But it sure feels good to talk to you, man.


from across the street, rewrite two


the life I used to live
is across the street
I see you walking in and out
but our eyes never meet
I see the doors and windows
were moonlight would come in
when I was the magnet
of your touch upon my skin
I wish I could be again

I still see our boys
from across the street
showing off on skateboards
day to day
week to week
I can see your face
inside each one of their's
I can feel a love
that I once believed was shared
that was never really there

         what I recall
         I see it all
         from across the street

I see your new friends
from across the street
each one a new replacement
for the sorry likes of me
I hate every one of them
with all the rage inside me
I'm a ticking time bomb
and you're right there beside me
just waiting to ignite me

the man I used to be
is across the street
all my history 
is across the street
there's no place for me
across the street
but you can't erase me
from across the street


Thursday, October 5, 2017

my imagination


my imagination
has ambitions
that it needs 
to fulfill
my soul's the victim
of malnutrition
I can't bend it 
to my will
I am not
young anymore
some might say
I'm over the hill
but my imagination
no one can touch that
it only belongs to me

my imagination
knows no borders
only bridges
never walls
no need for
law and order
my imagination
is above it all
I am not
young anymore
in seasons,
I'm traveling through fall
but my imagination
no one can touch that
it only belongs to me

my imagination
gets me in trouble
it somehow always
gets its way
I fight it
I start to struggle
but my imagination
says that ain't okay
I am not
young anymore
soon I won't be here to stay
but my imagination
no one can touch that
it only belongs to me