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Phantasmagoria


let's mull things over

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* * *
city sparrow
flying in the dark
counting all the stars
how many times
have you been lost?
how many lives
does starlight cost?
city sparrow

city sparrow
flying through the snow
to your winter home
on a windowsill
far from northern chill

you are safe
if you don’t look at the lights
you even like
it there now
sparrow

bird of sorrow
sitting by the edge
of a brownstone garden fence
happiness lasts
the summer long
happiness ends
when worms are gone
with the first snow

watch or feel
one will help you die
one will keep you right
sparrow has two eyes;
sparrow never cries

you are safe
all lights are the same
you have lost your name now,
sparrow

city sparrow
doesn’t feel hurt
knows the sky is dirt
beauty is his song:
beauty in the wrong

you are safe
among imaginary stars
you have always lived there now,
sparrow
* * *
outside my window
is a red brick wall
the clay changes color
with the leaves in fall
lords and vassals
live in wrought iron castles
but you don’t see them at all

her highness the queen
of the fire escape
wears stained-glass earrings
with a Jackie-esque cape

she decides
if you stay alive
and if the time is too late
she climbs through the grate

quand ma cite dort
mon esprit est calm
puis, la lumiere d’or
séchera mon ame

his highness the king
he eats dreams
he’ll cling to your screen
to steal your sleep

both good and bad
will keep him fed
just stay in bed
try not to scream
if him you see

the lords and ladies
misbehave
they ride on bats
they have not tamed

when you meet them
you will wish to fly away
and forget the day

quand ma cite dort
mon esprit est calme
puis, la lumiere d’or
séchera mon ame

i get bites
from devils at night
and their venom is mixing
my wrong with my right

i rather like that red brick wall
it keeps my soul from flying out of sight

don’t really like that red brick wall
it keeps my soul from flying out
* * *
Boston Song 2


The streetlights
Outside
Don’t keep me up at night
If you
Pass by
I’ll tell you I’m all right
Sometimes
It’s nice to know
Sometimes nice
To have a place to go
And sometimes
Is always, now
Sometimes is always
Now

I fall in
Love with
Everyone I meet
But not as
Much as
I love the city streets
Sometimes
It’s nice to be
Sometimes nice
To wait and see
And sometimes
Is always, now
Sometimes is always
Now

Don’t you wish
You could wander away
Wish you didn’t
Have a place to stay
Sometimes that’s what I might say
But sometimes
Is not right now
Sometimes is never
Now
* * *
I won’t blame it on the bottle
Or the closeness of your body
Simply, there was nobody to stop me

I didn’t mean to touch you
Like one who feels need
My touch can only hurt you
Because I don’t believe

Please forget
What my silence said
I never trusted words that break the fall
Just please forget
What my silence said
Because I lie when I don’t speak at all

I won’t blame it on the music
Though it is like wine
The band had finished playing
When we stepped in time

I didn’t mean to give you
What I do not own
It’s easier to take
Than it is to stay alone

Please forget
What my silence said
I’ve always hated words that break the fall
Just please forget
What my silence said
Because I lie when I don’t speak at all.
* * *
last year you wooed a girl (didn’t really know her)
there were a few things you wanted to show her
far as you knew, no one had ever owned her
body or soul. she was completely pure

pure as she was proud
she knew you’d pick her right out of the crowd
she was vain
she knew her place
she wouldn’t deign
to look on your face
much less love you
too far above you

but if you told her how you pined
she’d say i’m sorry and feed you some line
ask why you care so much about how you feel?
haven’t you learned by now this stuff isn’t real?
then she’d whisper: you’re so far above me
very unsure: why do you love me?

you told her she was proud
that she knew you’d pick her right out of the crowd
and so vain
she knew her place
if she deigned
to look in your face
meant nothing at all
she just let you fall

yesterday night you saw her again
you walked a little bit faster but then
she caught up with you as you hurried away
you bit back everything you had ready to say
she stood beneath with the same sad grin
as if she’d decided to let you in

but you were proud
you knew she’d finally pick you out from the crowd
and so vain
you knew your place
you wouldn’t deign
to look on that face
you’re so far above her
you never loved her

you think you’ll find the promised life
go out and buy a house and a wife
to do whatever you happen to say
love you forever and the next day
futures like this are built to last
they come with insurance to keep out the past

who is still proud
she holds her head high as she walks through the crowd
and still vain
but she knows her place
but she won’t dare
look on your face
as for the others
they make fine lovers

if you meet her, you won’t break her heart
she knows how to stop love at it’s start
* * *
* * *
st. louis


come in
sit down
i can see you’re new to this town
by the way you look
by the way you sound

come in
sit down
boy with a thistle crown
and a dimestore ring
little country king

you say you just followed the river
i say you knew you’d find me here
but you tell me the reason you came
is to find where the water runs clear
is to find where the river runs clear

stay in
my house
you can tell i’m a city mouse
by the way i sound
i’ll show you around

in some
cafe
we’ll dance the night away
then we’ll take a train
back the way we came

you say you just followed the river
i say: because you knew you’d find me here
but you tell me the only reason you came
is to find where the water runs clear
is to find where the river runs clear

boy take
your time
who needs water when you’ve got wine?
and a purse of gold
and a girl to hold

boy don't
you see
you’re the only one who can save me
from what i’ve become
in the city sun

please stay
with me
we’ll buy a house with an apple tree
i know nothing but
this mississippi mud

you say you just followed the river
you didn't know you’d find me here
but if i will come along with you
i can find where the water runs clear
i can find where the river runs clear.
* * *
Mayflies

mayfly, mayfly
watching the day fly
you’ve forgotten how

you don’t ask why
you’re just a mayfly
who knows its time is now

try as you may try
there’s another mayfly
who looks and sounds just like you

born at sunrise
death in her eyes
she has no more time than you

you sit down together
to watch and to wait
you can tell by the weather
that it’s getting late

you kneel and tell her
there are only three things that matter
they are: birth, and making love, and facing death
she says, then what’s the matter
we have only one more trial left

you left skylines
and woodlands behind
found a nice suburban place

your neighbors are mayflies
watching as the day dies
each one shares your face


you are a mayfly
you know a mayfly
who knows a mayfly

we all are mayflies
watching the day
turn grey

turning grey

turning grey
* * *
your bus was bound for brooklyn
your eyes sought out the sidewalk
you didn’t see me looking
did you see me looking?
i was riding out west that day
thinking about yesterday
you couldn’t hear me thinking
could you hear me thinking?

if i saw you tonight
what would i do?
if i saw you tonight
what would i do?
would i drive on by
or drive behind you?

your eyes walked past the window
they rested on the curb
i could have painted your picture
i painted your picture
well, it’s funny how things fade
two days later i forgot your face
i took up sketching
i kept forgetting

if i saw you tonight
what would i do?
if i saw you tonight
what would i do?
would i walk on by

would i recognize you?

if i had you once more
caught in the space between doors
would i let you through?

if i met you tonight
would i remember you?
* * *
My jet plane is leaving
Toronto this evening
I flew out of Logan at dawn
Before I had been to
Warm San Francisco
Didn’t stay long in the sun
I’m closest to light when I fly above clouds
Through so many miles of sky
I’m closest to home in an airport lounge
I forget where I came from and why

I like all the strangers;
my brothers, my neighbors
Because they don’t ask for my name
Sometimes I meet one
who asks where I come from
My story is never the same
I’m closest to lovers when I know I won’t be
Seeing their faces again
I’m closest to loneliness saying goodbye;
I know I won’t remember them.

Sometimes I feel like following them
past these gates that are keeping me free
But I’m closest to love when I’m closest to loss;
I’m stuck in this place in between.

I’m glad for the money
my grandfathers left me
It's paid for my journey this far
In tickets and taxis,
hotels and coffee
In sermons I find at the bar
I’m closest to God when I’m wandering airports
I never look for the door
It's ok if money can’t buy me love
It can buy freedom for sure.

And sometimes I feel like following them
Away from this beautiful dream
But I’m closest to heaven when I’m closest to hell
Sitting someplace in between.

My father, my mother
And my younger brother
Never stray far from New York
Sometimes I write
Just to say I’m alright
I told them I travel for work
I don’t know if they
believe what I say;
They know I'll have money to spare
Even if I
keep burning up sky
And turning cold cash into air.

I’ve always liked
the Atlantic at night
Her black cocoon covering me
And in the day
I like the way
I can’t tell what’s sky and what’s sea
My life is reckoned in credit transactions
I’ll leave no stain on the world
When it is time
Please let the brine
And the oysters turn me into pearl.

Sometimes I feel like turning my eyes
Away from the comforting sea
but I’m closest to life and closest to death
In this blue leather reclining seat.
* * *
saturday mornings a boy walks down three blocks to Paradise
there’s a table by the window
good coffee and a waitress he kind of likes
he takes off his jacket and watches the dawn pass him by
the streetlights are frozen
that’s how you know you’re in
Paradise

he’s lived in this city a year and a half, going on two
but faces on sidewalks and subways
look strange as the day he moved
from streets lined with live oaks that never were covered in ice
well, the heater is good
it’s as warm as it should be in
Paradise

there’s a girl who he sees every once and a while when loneliness strikes
he meets her in cafés, in subways
at his apartment some nights
but he feels funny seeing her face by the morning light
so he faces the strange snow to
sit in the warm glow at
Paradise
* * *
* * *

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