POEMS/LYRICS BY JRS V

 

The Train And The Track

His Real Parent

The Fallen Temple

Where Everyone Has A Fighting Chance

The Fallen Branch

There's No Wall

Rising And Falling 

On A Woman Dressed In Black, By A Heart Dressed In Black

The Water's Shape, The Water's Soul

The Last Cicada Of Summer

Hated Or Invisible

When Right Is Wrong

The Girl In The Movie (Song Lyrics)

Columbus (Song Lyrics)

Dream Cage (Song Lyrics)

The King Of Nothing (Song Lyrics)

 

 

The Train And The Track

 

 

Iím going full speed ahead

like a crazy locomotive,

possessed by all my dreams,

by all my desires,

wanting things I

canít see how I can live without.

I am the train.

But God is the track.

He defines my course.

He keeps my wild yearnings

from dragging the universe behind them.

He keeps my longing

within his plan,

never letting it

take the world,

or even a little piece of it,

off course.

(And sometimes,

lost pieces are really

doing exactly what theyíre supposed to,

and it would be

a crime to win them back.

Imagine how upset Shakespeare

would have been

if Iíd reformed Iago.

It would have ruined everything!)

In the same way,

what would have become of the land,

if I had the power to prevent the tragedy

of the ebbing tide,

which seems to rob the sea

of its wild heart?

It would have been washed away by now!

And then, there is the sun.

What would the sun think if I were to banish

the night, stealing the beauty

of its coming, the beauty of

its first sweet rays peering over the edge of the earth,

that mean so much more

than its open eye of fire, burning up the fields?

Would I have crucified it so,

on the cross of always being there?

Every time

I suffer a defeat,

I know it is only God

keeping me on His track.

It is not me

against my foe,

it is my blind force

pitted against Godís plan;

and instead of anguish,

I should feel joy

that I do not have the power

to smash the universe

into pieces with my good intentions.

 

God is using me,

and I am His.

It does not mean I need to slow down

or stop being me.

This desperate train,

full of loving and hope,

furious when it catches sight of injustice,

is who I am.

Itís not for me

to stop trying.

But from now on,

every time I lose,

I am going to stop

blaming

God: stop saying,

"E tu, Brute?"

to the stars above.

Theyíre no assassins.

No, the defeats are only Godís track

making my life a part of the whole.

And the pain I feel -

so intense, I can hardly go on living -

is but the meeting

of my blind motion

with the vision of the track.

 

Every time I cry,

it is because

Iím serving God,

without my knowledge.

And every time I think Iíve failed,

Iíve really succeeded.

 

What a painful way to live,

until you realize whatís going on!

And then, suddenly,

you understand,

and recovering all the energy you used

to lose to rage and fear,

surge forward

with more power than ever,

giving your whole heart

to what you think is right,

while God

keeps you being

what He needs.

 

 

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His Real Parent

 

 

"Signature of parent or guardian" the form said.

It all came back to him years later,

and he realized, then, that he should have said, "Guardian."

For they were not his parents.

They never were.

They were just two kindly souls

who agreed to take care of him,

because he came out of oneís womb

after the otherís love

suggested him in the darkness.

"Hello, I am your mother," one said.

"And Iím your father," said the other.

And they thought they really were.

But, it turns out,

they had only adopted him.

His real parent had given him up

for adoption in the "motherís" womb,

in the "fatherís" home,

knowing they could give the boy

what he needed,

which was a knowledge of their ways.

But as a clue

he left a little shining in the boyís heart,

so that when he came of age, he would

have the means of discovering the truth.

And when the caretakers who

he thought were his parents

began to make war upon

that shining -

fearing it, like travelers in the night,

who take off their jewelry -

frightened by it, like fugitives, hidden amidst enemies,

who will not let each other speak -

stranded from it, like chameleons trapped by the

color of where they are -

baffled by it, like archaeologists without a Rosetta stone -

he, at last, began to guess.

How could parents

not be proud of this little shining,

in a night so vast

that even a little light

could be as important as

a sun?

If the shining really came from them,

why were they trying so hard

to put it out?

And thatís when the revelation finally came.

That they were only his caretakers:

his kindly, adoptive parents,

misled into becoming his enemies,

by their fear.

That is when he began to search for a

face that looked like his,

a wound that matched;

most of all,

for a shining light

that would be like the discovery

of his real last name.

And that is when it happened.

That he found out that his real parentís name

was God;

and that his real birthplace

was beyond the earth,

in Godís mind,

and in Godís heart:

in the very center of God, who was both his father and

his mother.

"Welcome home," God told him

at the door to His house

which was inside the young man,

built right into all of his

longing and terrible loneliness,

just like the caves the Pueblos once built

into the harsh cliffs of the desert.

"Have you met your brothers and sisters, yet?"

And he showed him

the whole earth.

 

Still in pain,

the boy could not prevent himself from saying

to his real parent,

whose love for everything he was

he could feel beginning to

reach even his deepest cut:

"Did you know, those people over there

tried to kill me?"

 

"You mean your caretakers?" God asked.

 

"Yes," the young man nodded.

"They tried to kill my shining.

They tried to kill everything

that made my life worthwhile."

 

"Their love lacked eyes," God replied.

"But it did not lack love.

Everyone loves in his own way.

Someís way of loving heals,

someís way of loving destroys.

Loving someone without knowing who they are

is the fastest way to kill them."

And God added: "A man

blows on embers in a fireplace

to keep a fire from burning out.

And he blows upon a candle to put it out.

Is the one you love like

the fireplace

or the candle? Love is knowing."

 

"So I was right to hate them?"

the young man asked, reminded of the injustice they had committed

by the scars that followed him

everywhere he went,

scars that were like knife wounds on his flesh,

and like canyons

in his heart.

 

"Hate is a way of defending yourself

when you are weak," God said.

"Before you did not know me,

you were weak.

But now you know me.

You are strong.

Now you do not need

to hate them to be

who you are:

you know.

Your life comes from me,

and no one else has

the right

to command you

or judge you.

Only me.

And what I want from you

is already in you.

Be who you are,

who you can find

inside yourself."

And again he said,

"Donít hate them.

They were your caretakers,

and they did the best that they could

for you.

They really thought they were loving you

all the time that you were dying.

Donít hold it against them,

now that you are free.

Stop looking over your shoulder.

Look ahead to me,

and to the vision that we share,

the vision that is our meeting place

in eternity.

Pray for them,

and be grateful for what they gave;

but never dream of betraying me

just to make them happy.

No, leave their happiness

in a higher place,

for that is the only way

they will ever be driven to climb the mountain back to me."

 

And God said:

"Come, let us go

into the heart of your life,

my son,

the shadow has been broken,

and real living has begun!"

 

 

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The Fallen Temple

 

 

I saw my temple,

and then I saw it fall.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

I saw my holy land

on fire.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

I saw my sacred building

all in flames.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

I saw my sacred building

bleeding with smoke.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

Like the tower in the tarot card,

I saw the center of my sacred world

turned into an inferno,

I saw the king leaping out

and the crown falling off his head.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

And now where it stood -

my friend and comfort,

my giant healer

who rose above my daily pain

with the memory

that there is more -

there is only a sad hole,

filled with tears

that did not even have time

to be cried.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

My sacred center,

known only to myself,

for the secret that passed

between us,

you are gone!

You have left me here

to face them,

all alone!

"The human heart

is the place."

 

O great friend,

how I depended on you

every gray morning,

every sad, dark night!

But now

your friendship has been replaced

by a lesson

that reaches to the root of

Faith.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

For so long

you mesmerized me from beyond,

I did not know

that you had already

come inside me.

Thanks to you,

I know today.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

By falling,

you showed me

what cannot fall.

"The human heart

is the place."

 

You were my temple,

the center of my fate.

You raised me up

from weakness,

then gave me to myself,

by dying.

"Mourn me not,"

you said,

as I wept on the edge of

everything I had loved,

looking down into the hole

where you made me great.

"Carry on.

Youíve finally found

the right direction to face

when you pray.

The human heart

is the place."

 

 

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Where Everyone Has A Fighting Chance

 

 

Oh, he was born in a log cabin.

Oh, he started with a penny.

Oh, he climbed the ladder

right out of Hell.

 

Honestly speaking,

if you had thrown me, as a child,

into the darkest hole

of Calcutta,

into the most invisible and hungry slum,

into one of those deadly favelas

or shanty towns,

or started me off as a gamin,

or one of the nin~os de la alcantarilla,

or a garbage dump scavenger,

you would not be reading this poem right now

or anything like it.

Iím sure I would already be dead,

though maybe, after the most heroic effort,

I would still be around, somewhere,

a shadow man,

sleeping under the same sky as you,

with all my pain and desperation

never entering your mind.

(Even if you thought about

"us", you

never would have found "me"

among "us".)

Why pretend?

I couldnít have

fought my way out of there

in a million years.

Does that make me weak?

Weak enough to know

that something has to be done.

 

Sometimes, I wake up in the middle of the night,

almost in a panic,

with this dreadful feeling that

someone just like me,

someone full of life and

poems and dreams,

is trapped there:

like the light that canít get out

of a black hole.

Like the voice that canít escape from a

deaf-mute

whose beautiful face

and gestures, like music,

are trying to get my attention

from the other side of the world

(which is so much closer than we think).

At times, I feel like a killer

just by being alive.

But why hate myself

because I wasnít born

where the

bomb fell?

Do I need to make myself

even weaker?

 

Of course, I love all those rags-to-riches stories,

as much as the next guy:

up until the part where the hero

forgets about

where he came from,

except to use it to

turn himself into a legend.

Up until the part where the rich man says,

"He did it,

so all the rest of them can, too!"

 

Praise be to all those who got out.

I know Iíll never match their glory.

I know Iíll never be that tough.

I know if I had been born where they were,

I would never have gotten out.

Which is why I have to make my hand bigger,

as big as all of our hands put together,

to reach down there,

and pull as many of

my brothers and sisters as I can,

back to the place

where everybody has a fighting chance.

 

Donít you see?

Itís more than nobility.

Iím down there, somewhere,

and so are you!

 

 

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The Fallen Branch

 

 

Give your love

to the fallen branch.

 

Give your love

to its deep green leaves

that donít know

how to stop,

even when thereís no reason to keep on

being green.

 

Give your love

to the fallen branch

lying at the foot

of the tree.

It hasnít understood, yet,

that it wonít be going back.

 

Give your love

to the fallen branch.

Donít you know

who it is?

 

 

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Thereís No Wall

 

 

Thereís no wall

you can build high enough

to keep out

all the problems

of the world.

Somehow,

whatís inside and outside

have to be connected.

How?

Hereís a hint God whispered

into my ear:

Love can

dilute any poison

to the point

where you can drink it,

just like water.

 

Thereís always a way

past a wall -

under it

or over it,

through it with a battering ram,

or with a sack of gold

in the night

that will open up the door.

The answerís not the wall.

 

And hereís something more

that God said to me:

Water at different levels

always creates

the danger of a flood.

 

A stone on the top of a mountain

is always in danger of

falling down.

Its height is the birthplace

of its fall,

and its fall

is the birthplace

of the landslide.

True greatness

does not arouse envy,

it only makes brothers.

 

Thereís no wall

you can build high enough

to keep out

all the problems

of the world.

 

The only safety comes

from not needing a wall.

 

Maybe itís the thought

that made the wall

thatís the problem.

 

 

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Rising And Falling

 

 

Rising and falling

is the way we travel:

like the piston

going up and down

that moves the wheel.

When something beautiful

begins to lose its energy

itís renewed

by being destroyed.

Then all the longing, and the regret

of losing it,

rush in

to give it new force.

Instead of being taken for granted,

suddenly itís the vacuum all the air runs to.

 

Sometimes, catastrophe

is only a form of CPR.

 

In this way

destruction

empowers

what is destroyed

and becomes the engine

of life.

Death is the secret

of resurrection.

 

Of course,

itís a bumpy ride.

Tears

are not the kindest

fuel.

But this is the way

we human beings

have traveled

since the beginning of time.

Loving things; letting love fall asleep;

losing things;

then waking up to love again.

Building things,

tearing them down,

building them up again.

Taking a step,

falling,

getting up,

taking another step.

 

It hurts,

this way of traveling.

But the one consolation

it brings to me,

in these darkest of times,

is the knowledge

that if we are down today,

maybe itís

only a sign

that we are about

to get back up.

 

 

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On A Woman Dressed In Black, By A Heart Dressed In Black

 

 

Please God:

Let me be free,

let me out of the door

of the gray room.

Let me feel the sun

on my face.

Let me

walk wherever I want,

and speak to strangers.

Let me be myself.

Let me hear words

coming out of my mouth

that make people blossom.

I want to be surrounded by

their beauty,

and to be a part of it.

Please God, let me out of the shadows

and the silence,

let me take off this dark shade

that hides my light.

Let my hand be

healed

enough to give

what is in my heart,

help me to cross over this

pointless chasm

between my inner

and outer selves.

 

Please God, let me be free, just like the sea,

that flows

until the lands stops it,

without ever

stopping itself.

 

Today

I wanted to speak to her,

the woman dressed in black.

But my heart

was also dressed in black,

and I passed by her,

just leaving her

to drown

in her terrible sensitivity.

I could

not come out

of our common sorrow,

to touch her

with who I am,

which is her own heart

trying to reach her.

 

Returning home,

I lit a candle for her.

But that only reminded me

of my sin.

 

Please, God, help me,

please let me be free!

Let me be free

to hold

the people

I love!

 

 

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The Waterís Shape, The Waterís Soul

 

 

Iíll be who you want me to be

and what you want me to be

as long as I can still be me.

 

You want me to be thunder,

Iíll dress as thunder.

You want soft rain

thatís like a lullaby on your window,

thatís how Iíll come.

 

You want to be blown over

by the wind, just tell me.

 

You want me to be fire

that doesnít burn,

or a tiger who can go a year

without eating,

for you

I can do it.

 

You want me to be the surf

destroying a rock

with a million suicides,

or the song of a cricket

that whispers into your soulís ear

all night long?

You could inspire me

to be either one.

 

Like water,

Iíll fit into any container you bring,

any need.

Iíll give everything I have

to see you happy,

even for one minute.

Just donít ask me

to stop being water.

Thatís the one

request

I cannot honor,

the one demand

that would turn my generosity

into betrayal,

and end this love,

forever.

 

 

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The Last Cicada Of Summer

 

 

Who are you yelling for?

Theyíre all gone now.

Thereís no one left to come.

Your song

will be your only child.

This moment

will be your only

eternity.

You will die

with no heirs

but this lonely heart

passing beneath your tree.

If only I were a cicada!

If only you were a human!

 

 

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Hated Or Invisible

 

 

Is it really better

to be invisible

than hated?

When all is said and done,

isnít it better to be killed

by others

than to be killed by yourself?

Isnít it better to be exiled

from their town,

than to be exiled from

your own heart?

 

 

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When Right Is Wrong

 

 

You did what was right,

which was wrong.

You did what

you were supposed to do,

which left

a giant wound,

like a bullet hole,

in the heart of the universe.

You were logical,

moral,

dutiful,

loyal,

upright

and blameless,

and you made

God cry

because

he was expecting

something more

from you:

real love,

that canít stay

locked inside of forms;

real love,

that flows to wherever

it is needed,

no matter how unruly

or shocking.

Like a little boy

throwing a stone into a pond,

God threw you

into the world,

hoping to see

a beautiful splash,

and then the life-giving ripples

spreading out

from all the errors

of an untamed heart.

But the waters

you were born to disturb

remained calm,

you perfectly

reflected the social order,

you were so good

that everyone kept right on

sleeping

until life was gone.

 

You were always so right,

yet always,

so wrong.

 

 

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The Girl In The Movie (Song Lyrics)

 

 

She was in her prime

and I was just a kid

The girl in the movie

didnít know what she did

 

All the men went crazy

each one offered her a choice

Back among the shadows

no one saw the little boy

 

who kept on coming back

into the dark to dream

He watched her like the moon

shining in the sky of the movie screen

 

And he made a vow back then

though she was out of reach

that he would never give her up

though it was a love that couldnít be

 

And the girl in the movie

made me feel alive

each time I came to see her

When I went home I died

 

And the girl in the movie

was so much better than this world

If I coulda just jumped into the movie screen

and disappeared with her

 

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

 

Why canít I be her age?

Why canít I be the one she wants?

Why canít I be with her?

 

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

 

Something in her face

looked so gentle and so sweet

But she was also wild

like horses running free

 

She was the perfect friend

to have right by your side

for any of the adventures

that are supposed to come with life

 

and I thought about her constantly

as luck just passed me by

sometimes years get in the way of love

I never found out why

 

And though, today, she canít be the same

sheís old and gray, Iím sure

Iíd gladly give up youth to break

the curse of being born too late for her

 

And the girl in the movie

made me feel alive

each time I came to see her

When I went home I died

 

And the girl in the movie

was so much better than this world

If I coulda just jumped in the movie screen

and disappeared with her

 

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

 

Why canít I be her age?

Why canít I be the one she wants?

Why canít I be with her?

 

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

The girl in the movie

 

I needed her so bad

She was the only thing I had

Why couldnít weíve left life behind

and lived in the movie all the time?

And life sucks

sucks

sucks

sucks!

Why couldnít we live together in the movie screen,

always in the light, in the dark room?

Hand in hand, and surviving it all?

Larger than life, faster than doom?

 

And the girl in the movie

made me feel alive

each time I came to see her

When I went home I died

 

And the girl in the movie

was so much better than this world

If I coulda just jumped in the movie screen

and disappeared with her

 

 

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Columbus (Song Lyrics)

 

 

[Note: This song, written on the 500th anniversary of Columbusí "discovery" of the New World, may offend some. Itís written from a Native American perspective - read The Journey of Rainsnow, and youíll know why. Although Columbus had many admirable qualities, and itís perfectly understandable why many Italian-Americans have chosen him as a cultural icon, he also performed many acts of cruelty during his brilliant career, besides being the one who really set the bloody conquest of the Americas into motion. I would suggest that Italian-Americans look for another culture hero to better represent them, someone such as Galileo or Leonardo da Vinci or Michelangelo or Verdi. Of course, this song does definitely project some anger through its tone. But why not? Thereís a lot to be angry about. Though the best approach, of course, would have been to have dragged Columbus into counseling.]

 

 

Columbus ainít no friend of mine

Columbus ainít no friend of mine

Sail to Krakatoa next time

 

Columbus sailed across the sea

Columbus sailed across the sea

Columbus, whyíre you so bad to me?

 

1492, he said, "I will come"

1492, he said, "I will come"

Wish he died in 1491

 

Saint Mary, Nina and Pinto

Saint Mary, Nina and Pinto

Columbus, Go! Go! Go! Go! Go!

 

All his sailors had a mutiny

All his sailors had a mutiny

Too bad they didnít dump him in the sea

 

"Whereís China?" I heard Columbus say

"Whereís China?" I heard Columbus say

Too bad America got in the way

 

Yeah, too bad, the world wasnít flat

Yeah, too bad, the world wasnít flat

Keep going Columbus, donít worry bout comin back

 

Columbus landed on the shore

Columbus landed on the shore

Thatís when America started to be poor

 

Columbus put his old flag down

Columbus put his old flag down

Columbus, you sure do get around

 

He took a necklace from a girlís throat

He took a ring from a childís toe

Said - "Is there more of this below?"

 

Well Columbus was a generous man

Well Columbus was a generous man

Put shovels in all his new friendsí hands

 

"O no - no gold here, what a sin!

O no - no gold here, what a sin!

Wanna - buy an Indian?"

 

Columbus - Columbus donít you cough

Columbus - Columbus donít you cough

No oneís left to call you boss

 

Columbus - put away your sword

Columbus - put away your sword

No oneís left to work for you no more

 

"Bring Africans, bring Ďem here in chains

Bring Africans, bring Ďem here in chains

Letís start the whole thing up again"

 

Columbus came to civilize

Columbus came to civilize

Columbus, My! My! My! My! My!

 

Columbus, up against the car

Columbus, up against the car

Columbus, where is your green card?

 

Columbus sailed the ocean blue

Columbus sailed the ocean blue

Look out, he might still be in you

 

 

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Dream Cage (Song Lyrics)

 

 

[CHORUS]

 

(Dream cage) Here I come

(Dream cage) Iím your Number One

(Dream cage) Lock me away

(Dream cage) no matter what they say

(Dream cage) Open up for me

(Dream cage) ĎCause reality

(Dream cage) I canít stand

(Dream cage) Itís not my land

 

I had a woman

She left me

But I kept her

in my dreams

Had a job

A good living

"Good-bye Joe"

Donít feel a thing

 

[CHORUS]

 

I saw the star

above the dirt

They drove it away

from the earth

So I climbed

behind my bars

and flew my cage

to the stars

 

[CHORUS]

 

I heard the music

of the spheres

Then they

stole my ears

but that music

still plays

inside

the freedom cage

 

[CHORUS]

 

Get your life

back together

The president

wrote a letter

But "together" is

colored gray

No one should

have to live this way

 

[CHORUS]

 

Yeah, "Just say No"

is what you teach the kids

Why donít you teach them

how to live?

Yes, Humpty Dumpty

had a fall

His pieces had

the best time of all

 

[CHORUS]

 

 

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The King Of Nothing

 

 

This is a story

about a man

who though he lived in our times

did not understand

 

that lies and shame

and craft and greed

open the doors

to what you need

 

that honor and truth

and compassion and heart

are balls and chains

that donít work in the dark

 

So he lived on the edge

refusing to tear

like a vulture at dead

meat for his share

 

As the crowd swirled around him

he walked like a king

When they passed life around

he didnít get anything -

Heís the King - King - King of Nothing!

 

Here is you scepter

Here is your crown

Here is your throne

Are you happy alone?

 

You made the choice

to follow your dream

In the kingdom of nothing

you are the king

Youíre the King - the King - the King of Nothing!

 

"Nothing" ainít easy

when the wind passes through

Your bones feel it

I swear that they do

 

While girls laugh outside

and with other men go

who can give to them

more than a soul

 

and your dreamís like graffiti

scrawled on a wall

that nobody reads

they just wash it off

 

And only the street

can hold you now

Itís like a murder

to see you lost in the crowd

 

And your life is ruined

I hope that you know

So come over here

let me put on your cloak

Youíre the King - King - King of Nothing!

 

Here is your scepter

Here is your crown

Here is your throne

Are you happy alone?

 

You made the choice

to follow your dream

In the kingdom of nothing

you are the king

Youíre the King - King - King of Nothing!

 

 

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