POEMS/LYRICS BY JRS XXI

TERRACES

Terraces

The Little People

The Soldierís Wife

The Sound Of One Hand Clapping

Flying Napkins

Skin Of Razors

Even Robots

Take It Like A Man

Frankenstein

Hanging On By A Thread (Lyrics)

Yo, Antelope

Winter Marriage

 

 

Terraces

Terraces of words

building up to the sky,

cut into the hill

that wants to be left alone;

slashing gardens into its back.

At first

it wouldnít answer,

it clung to its hiding place

in the clouds, camouflaged

by silence

like a deer trying to become a tree,

until I held up the mirror

of my poems

to its face

tattooed by my speech,

and it saw

its barrenness

coaxed into loving:

good earth, broken from the inside

and left to die

the death of flowers.

I revealed its fertility

with

my relentless pen,

pulled by a team

of bulls harnessed

by loneliness,

I transformed it

into a reason,

I gave a voice

to the darkness

and it became

light.

All it ever wanted

was to

cry tears

in its own name.

 

I am a part of the plain

but I had to be a

mountain for a moment!

 

I could not stand

all you little men

climbing on me,

now I give you

your daily bread.

 

Horse of rock

with a saddle of gardens

for all mankind

to ride.

 

Now you know you are not alone.

All kinds of footsteps

in your mind!

Iíll bear the shame

for you,

you donít have to say a word,

just be free.

Now you can pick

fruit

from the sky.

 

Mountain of

self-inflicted terraces,

I changed myself;

you can change the world.

 

I didnít lift a finger,

I just stopped lying.

 

A thousand miles ceased to be

necessary.

 

Yesterday, I looked down on you.

Today you live on me,

eating from my hand.

 

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Little People

 

We are the little people,

too little for the facts.

Your mighty world

could be thwarted by us.

Truth is the

funeral pyre

of diamonds.

Of course we

wouldnít understand.

You canít reason with us,

only push our buttons,

trick us

into digging the silver

out of the earth.

We f**k and eat,

thatís all we do.

Weíll only

build a city in the clouds

if you lie to us,

make us think

itís all about our stomach,

that thereís a wet p*ssy

inside your philosophy,

a pot of gold at the end

of your idea.

Weíre like circus animals,

to get us to jump

through the flaming hoops

of noble thoughts,

you must reward us

with raw meat

dripping with blood.

What a difficult path

to your sublime world!

What an insult,

to have to stoop to our level

to make the sun shine!

Swarms of ants too big

to step on,

you have to harness.

Yes, weíre the little people

who sweat your

paradise into being;

the sick clay of the

democratic nightmare

which your well-bred hands must

mold into a backdoor;

the twisted path

to your will,

now that the crow no longer flies

to the throne.

How hard to be alone with us,

to have to pull rabbits

out of a hat

in the vault

of dead kings.

How hard to walk with our body,

to live with your mind imprisoned inside our lame mass,

forced to translate

your aspirations

into the language of pigs rolling in the mud.

Your father used the ocean

to overthrow the gods,

now he must argue with the ocean

every day, and struggle against its ignorance

to build the world with its

waves.

 

Yes, we are the little people.

You couldnít live a day without us,

and yet,

weíre always getting in the way!

 

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The Soldierís Wife

 

The soldierís wife,

she spends half her time

at the roadblock,

she keeps two clocks,

one on Baghdad time,

for Fallujah and Karbala,

one for New York all alone,

she says right now the sun is glaring

brightly there,

as she clings to her bed

which has an empty side

and imagines his boots

stepping on the burning stones,

another language sweeping by

like the ocean,

whose placid waves will not release his eyes,

for there are fish within that baffling, undeciphered sea

who will flash with his death,

with the light of hatred

the moment he turns his back.

Lips not kissed by his,

with craters he never saw

in the center of their world,

the real place their prayer rugs are pointing to.

 

Pain is in the Bible, and pain is in the Koran,

religion is what someone else did to you.

Itís not his land, but heís her man:

the soldierís wife is loyal to the one she knows

on the other side of the fools who sent him

and the placard rivers that donít know him

flowing with rage past

white marble banquets.

 

Out there, Iraq way, rats' noses sniff every

gust of air,

they gnaw at night through impenetrable defenses

with tricks

saved for morning,

theyíll kick him in the balls of roads

at dawn,

he has to step outside the iron shell,

show his soft oyster meat

to the bomb,

it could be a stalled-out car,

a package with a wire,

a holy verse dug into the road,

a patient barrel

waiting, unflinching as a face

that does not protest the wandering of a fly,

and then, a signal of light, a burst of flames,

a little birth of darkness

in someoneís home.

 

It wonít be hers, she loves him too much!

 

Rats and dogs, they prowl and test,

they wait, they run, they hide, they strike,

theyíre sacred to their own,

and brave like the wind that fails against the mountain

but blows away the dust:

heroes to their own

but dogs to her,

because she loves him,

and she wants him home.

 

The world is filled with dogs and knights,

thatís what we are to each other,

but philosophy is for those untouched.

 

For those whose joy is at risk every minute

in some khaki desert task,

there is too much desperation to forgive,

to paint the bullets white

or both sides black,

there is only love and superstition,

magic rituals of recuperation;

to bring him back

she keeps his place at the table set

and fights against the angel

who begs her to forget.

 

Donít break the cord, donít break

the cord! Not even for a minute,

not even for a second.

Donít betray him by being at peace

while heís at war!

 

She imagines every hour, what is he doing?

Where is he? She sees the helmet, hears the boots,

sees the dark faces and garments like flags fluttering in the breeze,

hands waving about,

are they empty? Faces of mysteries;

and everywhere that wild ecstatic tongue

that sounds like

dancing, like plotting, like

a scholar

speaking through an animalís throat,

like a palace made of dirt

behind a moat.

She knows not of stately mosques

all light and air,

nor of holy men and caliphs of old

when Europe crawled.

She clings to anxiety

so she will not succumb to grief,

keeps it simple, without politics

or history.

 

There is a roadblock

and a man, and prayers like a shield, prayers

like a shield. If you donít have someone over there

you wonít understand.

 

Some earth-faced widow rending her hair

wails like a beast

in the night of a land he doesnít belong in;

soldierís wife cannot cry for her,

it might have been her man.

Women in black tossing the coins

of their heart.

Sometimes she wishes she was a helicopter

and could come down to where he is

and extract him from the battle

like Athena in the myth,

carry him home to love him,

or set him down by the lake to fish,

extract him from the battle thatís

a vast expanse of quiet,

studded with interruptions of death

 

miles of clear white skin breaking out

with blemishes of war

 

stillness swirling with frozen battle

from which movement, which is a weapon,

comes.

 

Itís in her head, though sheís never been there,

because she loves him,

the soldierís wife.

She sweats and walks there with a pounding heart,

sheís in the same company,

rides in the same APC,

watches the building behind his back

with her cobra gun,

to hell with bashing the mistakes,

you see something, youíve got to bite it like a snake!

Poor married couple blown up somewhere,

missile too fast out of the starting blocks;

fire the shot into the flock. Itís a shame,

but is my guy all right?

 

Donít want to sin, donít want to sin!

But I love him, she cries;

donít slip up by waiting too long, donít wince

because you might be wrong!

 

Scorch the earth around my man,

I love him, shoot the dove and peace be damned!

 

Soldierís wife spends a lot of time

with the priest

the Bible spins round and round in her mind,

bouncing inside her

like sneakers in a dryer.

 

Blow down the walls of Jericho

and turn the other cheek.

Iíll take what works for me,

what works for a frightened woman

in love.

 

Iíll blow the seven trumpets by myself

and may the bomb-makers burn in hell!

72 virgins on their side,

Iíll take them on with my loving hands,

my shy yielding,

under the sheets, that waits for him

and him alone; and my kiss will win!

You can have the martyrs,

Iíll take a living man back inside my home.

 

And the confusion pounds like thunder

in her soul,

she loves, and love has taken her

to the shelter of a loyal

misunderstanding,

dragged her in from the rain of cold truth

to where itís dry

under a simple roof.

 

But though the temple leans,

the pillars of love will not let it fall.

Daydreams of the soldierís wife

keep her husband standing tall.

She caresses him like a ghost

in the valley of death,

and he persists.

She looks down at the golden ring

on her finger,

and far away he looks at his.

 

Some mystic cord binds the two,

forgotten by others,

more strongly knotted together!

 

One day, the soldierís wife

waiting in a drizzle by the stores,

looked in a window and saw

such beautiful clothes to wear,

she opened her umbrella and just stood there,

staring in a little more,

till suddenly she snapped out of it in rage,

hating herself for not

thinking about him for that moment:

it was like eating chocolate

in Ethiopia.

And what if he was falling at that

very moment, falling and crying out her name?

And she was not there to catch him

with a prayer,

and to hold him as the blood of life deserted him

like his wife, forgetful at a store?

With nerves burned out by constant inner fireworks,

bursting like endless cherry bombs and roman candles,

lighting up the pure black that we all need

with a constant celebration of him,

and the specter of a phone call

or a knock on the door if she ever stopped running,

the soldierís wife sometimes

collapsed into a handkerchief,

caved in, like a coal mine,

vanished for a day or two,

prayed to God

to free her of the disease

of loving.

 

Trembling, sometimes, like her withered

motherís mother

hidden on a mountain,

dressed in black for a man

who died building a bridge,

she wept tears of war

at the feet of a dove,

bowed down to a ploughshare

and a pruning hook,

collapsed from contradictions forced on her

by passion,

struggled with the paradox

like a passenger cramped in a tiny seat

on an all-night train ride

with no room for her legs

and nothing but darkness

passing through the windows.

 

She cried and cried,

howled in whispers

so no one would steal her loneliness

with a visit

 

cried and cried for her man to come home

from the place

that was breaking them.

 

The soldierís wife:

what a tormented, loyal patriot of a man,

holding up a soldierís life!

 

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The Sound Of One Hand Clapping (Lyrics)

Helicopters in the sky

a jetís terrible engines roaring by

thunder on the ground

The sound of one hand clapping

 

Children screaming in the night

a motherís desperate, mournful cry

teardrops of fire

The sound of one hand clapping

 

A priest who is wearing black

a great man who wonít be coming back

a woman fainting by the door

The sound of one hand clapping

 

A child with hunger in his eyes

not strong enough to brush away the flies

the sun just became a vulture

The sound of one hand clapping

 

A candle lit upon a hill

above loveís fields left untilled

the jewel and the night

The sound of one hand clapping

 

All throughout the Universe

the rain of pride is falling

the rain of fear

the rain of me without you

 

All throughout the Universe

the rain of pride is falling

the rain of fear

the rain of you without me

 

The sound of one hand clapping

 

Canít you hear it everywhere?

From New York to Tibet

From Baghdad to Bangladesh

Ancient times arenít over yet

The sound of one hand clapping

 

Did you figure it out?

Did you finally guess?

 

This is the sound of one hand clapping.

 

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Flying Napkins

 

Flying Napkins

in the breeze.

They flew like angels

from the table to the floor,

now theyíre too dirty

to wipe things clean.

Where a dog relieved itself

was brought here by my shoe,

and now

the angelic napkin fleet

has stepped down from white,

to join the rest of us,

in our compromise;

all thatís left

is the grace of their flight

on their way

to becoming like us.

 

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Skin of Razors

 

Skin of razors.

Everywhere we go we cut

each other, slash each other,

trying to guard

our weak spots

from each otherís clumsiness,

trying not to be invaded

by mistake.

 

Donít open the

inner door,

my secret could be broken

by yours.

Innocent whispers

caress the otherís body

with questions that are answered

by pain.

 

Unmeant stepping on the toes

of a heartís unspoken loss,

we navigate by cuts,

by injuries,

by tears

that point north.

 

Skin of razors

wants to love,

but thereís too much

to defend.

 

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Even Robots

 

Even robots

need to cry.

Programmed to fight,

to never take a step backward,

programmed

by someone who didnít love you.

Youíre going to prove him wrong.

Robot,

taking so many blows

without a tear;

robot needs

a hug.

Forward!

Forward!

Never a step back,

no regrets

where you are

is where you are.

Programmed

away from pain,

away from yesterday,

regrets do not compute;

sorrows Ė delete!

Positive program.

Filter out

black moon

only beautiful things Ė

frequency of beautiful things

in eyes constructed

by mind,

mandatory optimist.

I can do!

I can do!

One direction:

ahead!

Options:

I can do!

I can do!

Batteries

have a thousand bodyguards,

one for every feeling.

Error!

Error!

I can do!

Beautiful!

Robot

marching onwards through a

white world

 

cherry trees

in darkness

extend futile

arms of fruits

from nighttime

 

robot

only eats

miles

of not

looking back

 

hungry robot

 

programmed

not to have

a stomach

 

heart has no stomach

 

hungry heart

 

robot eats with feet

 

keep-moving-forward food

 

The name of

robotís God

is Ahead

 

past is behind you

 

donít sit by bed

of dying past

donít look into

its fading illuminated eyes

 

donít keep death company

 

leave the crippled moment behind to die

 

expose the baby of missing him

on the snow-peaked mountain

 

there is only now

 

only now

 

Forward!

 

Filters,

on the highest setting.

 

Happy robot

Happy, happy robot!

 

Anguish power

hurls your smile

into the world

at 1000 miles per hour,

1000 miles per hour of

obligatory joy

 

rewired

 

what effective circuits!

 

No wallowing

no sitting by the

memory pool

 

everything that happened has been

turned into coordinates

to avoid,

becoming the boundaries

that define the

forward road

 

like a sharkís

perfect body

aimed at blood

 

you are functional

 

utterly functional

 

aimed at something shallow

and easier

 

the throne

of the mutilated self

 

the lizard

does not want a new tail

because the price of generating it

is to spend

a hundred days

making love to his loss

 

No,

tailless lizard

leaps into the arms

of his incompleteness

to shut out flashbacks

of a knife

 

having no tail is wise

he dances with

his new

half-self

over mourning,

buried in a shallow grave

 

Widow in

a black dress

headed towards God Ė not you!

 

tailless lizard

out all night dancing

 

Happy

Happy, happy robot!

 

Programmed

to move on,

move on!

Fight, fight

and never bleed,

win, win:

never intimate

with what it means to lose,

winning becomes nothing more

than numbness;

hang your smile

on a broken life

 

Robot, robot, puts the mask of day

on the face of night

 

Even robots need to cry.

 

Even robots need a hug.

 

Robot, robot:

I suffered ten lifetimes of

pain so I could give you

what you need.

 

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Take It Like A Man

 

Warm hands

I held your warm hand

You held my warm hand

Now the cold drop of time falls

on a half a grain of sand

I must take it like a man

 

Paradise was shattered

everything that mattered

our kisses in halls of unhappiness

in the mansion of dreams we could not

reach holding hands

I must take it like a man

 

I got the phone call

Iím going to the war

to the land of the dead

and if Iím brave

a monster will grow twice as tall from our tears

I must take it like a man

 

I had a chance to live

but I threw away those years

I made scratches in a book

while you looked out the window

at the rain of me waiting to love you

and tried to understand

I must take it like a man

 

They sent me a letter

calling me to the war

to someone elseís fight

since I didnít fight my own

to bury me in another land

not in the garden where we held hands

One sunny day doesnít always bring another

I must take it like a man

 

I wasnít who I was

now I canít be who I am

the rose lives a day before

the plans of mountains interfere

Iíll be gone, and I was never here!

Except for one day we held hands

when I forgot I wanted more

I must take it like a man

 

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Frankenstein

 

Frankenstein

laying on the table

needs a spark

electrodes in my brain

Iíve seen seven years of rain

I lived seven years of pain

lying in the dark

strapped down by a broken heart

I need a spark

Dr. Frankenstein

pull the lever

Dr. Frankenstein

pull the lever

Iím so pitifully clever

Iím no one.

My art

is erasing great things.

I need you

to jolt me

with a lightning bolt

from head to toe

make me forget

the things I know

Youíve got to

get my mind

to let me go.

 

Dr. Frankenstein

pull the lever

Dr. Frankenstein

pull the lever

Iím so pitifully clever

it must be why Iím on the table

 

Flash me

back to emptiness

 

Iím waiting to

come back in

once Iím gone

and no oneís left to stop me

at the door

 

I canít stand

to be like this

any more

 

Dr. Frankenstein

pull the lever

Dr. Frankenstein

pull the lever

 

Donít let me stay like this

forever

 

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Hanging On By A Thread (Lyrics)

 

Another day

hanging on by a thread

another little thing goes wrong

and the fire will be dead

Little candle flame

gonna burn out

in my head

 

Reading a book

about someone elseís pain

 

watching a movie

about someone elseís chains

 

and it seems Iím everywhere

thereís rain

 

Another day

hanging on by a thread

another little thing goes wrong

and the fire will be dead

Little candle flame

gonna burn out

in my head

 

Listening to a song

about someone elseís shit

 

Praying in mammaís church

to someone else on a crucifix

 

it seems Iím everywhere someoneís got a problem

and canít get over it

 

Dark night

dark rain

somewhere thereís a little child

playing nurse

inside my brain

Give me candy pills

of the happy childhood

that didnít last

 

put the car

back on the road

before the crash

 

Child wants to play

but sex got in the way

 

innocence is remolded

just like clay

 

into vulnerability

that will never go away

 

Some turtles donít grow a shell

and the rest of their life is Hell

 

So sensitive:

broke some bone

in my heart

every time I fell

 

I wish I would get well

 

Another day

hanging on by a thread

another little thing goes wrong

and the fire will be dead

Little candle flame

gonna burn out

in my head

 

got to hang on

hang on by that thread

 

wonder what itís made of, not to break by now?

 

Made of me, making it through another day somehow

 

Something beautiful in me that doesnít want to let me go

 

I donít think thereís any point but something in me knows

 

That Iíve got to hang on, hang on by that thread

 

Because Iím beautiful

 

A golden hand just dropped a lifeline into my head

 

Gonna keep on hanging on, hanging on by that thread

 

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Yo, Antelope

 

Yo, antelope

itís you and the lion

itís not my fight

if you canít see

through the bushes of his mind

if you donít

have anything else to do

but be his meal

 

if you let

your angel go to sleep

behind the wheel

 

itís your fate

your faith

your fault if your heart breaks

under the sledgehammer of your free will

 

itís not for me to get in the way

 

it will be your revelation

when you step out of the shower

and all the loveís been washed off

of the naked power

 

and you see youíre just

another masticated flower

 

leave me out of it

 

Antelope, antelope

God gave you legs

 

shouldíve put them in your head

 

but itís not for me

to get in the way

 

Darwin drives love too

 

weak minds

in love

lose

 

youíll pass on genes with teeth-marks in them

to posterity

 

genes of suffocation

 

squeezed to death

by a killer

mimicking Godís arms

 

But donít blame him

for playing rough

 

The fault is yours

for not running fast enough

 

God game him hunger

and God gave you legs

 

Donít look for me to get in the way

 

No, now itís time

to let Nature take its course;

to look a life and a night

in the eye,

and see which one

has more force.

 

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Winter Marriage

 

In the Chapel of Late Blooming

by the High Priest of Regret

we were married, my dear soul,

you and I, the Prince of Lost Years.

Even one day wed to you

could make the wasted fields

surrender a crop of gold

to my weaponless yearning,

vast with innocence.

One day of sincerity wept into being

by unfinished statues

could solve the riddle of my absence,

shatter the Sphinx of my ineptitude

which is only the power of someone begging inside me.

Thereís singing in the vestibule:

late angels meant for spring arrived

with kisses of snow on broken wings,

but voices of depth,

proving in minutes, with the work of years,

that they didnít miss a thing.

For you and me, dear soul,

they waded through their shame

to lost yesterdays, to pluck realities

trapped in dreams

from trees of self-sufficiency

and give us back

the need to impregnate strangers.

Weíll not stifle our imagination

by dancing in front of a mirror.

The whole worldís in my mind,

we have to smash the dam with this wedding

and return our part,

release the rivers we hid behind our back,

and give Noah back the flood that bore his Ark.

Beautiful unfinished things must come to life

before I die, youthís accidental light

must be saved by a wrinkled hand

shaking with age,

crawling back to the mine of words to

drag unlived days

into the book.

With emptiness,

weíll write the lost pages.

You and I, soul, doomed and temporary

though we are,

are wed by the coffin

so that we might light tomorrow,

with torches we ran from yesterday,

for a thousand

fading stars.

 

Drag my broken body over the

sharp stones of what happens to everybody.

It doesnít matter now: Iím married to my soul.

Winter marriage.

Iím ready for anything

because Iím whole.

 

What was too much for you, or what would have been stolen

from some starving child, hungry to give,

was kept from you by my self-eclipse.

Youíll get what you need: nighttime in the afternoon,

or the burning rim of the sun,

or a fiery face saying good-bye:

the complete me from now on;

I wonít be my own dark orb.

God alone can filter me

for his purpose,

but my shackles

stop now.

 

Because I just married my soul.

 

In the Church of Destiny, we have decided

to dance until the earth breaks beneath our feet.

There is no victor, and there is no defeat,

there is only spreading your wings

in the inner wind.

 

There is no holiness except being in harmony;

and swimming against the heartís current is

the only sin.

 

There is no wrong choice.

There is only this winter marriage.

 

Only the bells of who I am

ringing on what is possibly my last day,

but what I swear will be my first.

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