Monthly Archives: June 2018

Carousel: Essayed Addendum

Track One: The Day After Election Day

Literally written the titular day after election day, 2016. I had fallen asleep the night before, awakening at 3am to the sentence spoken, “President Elect Trump.” I remember looking up at the television; it was blurry, of course, as I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I remember seeing the glow of the television; I lying on the floor on top of and underneath a bedsheet.

I finally awoke for real the next morning, wondering if it had been a dream.

I drank coffee. I smoked cigarettes. And, later, I watched Hilary Clinton – the proverbial Flawed Candidate – give the speech of a lifetime, with an attitude she should have had the whole time: A bold and clear mindset, wrought by utter humility; a soul, quieted; a bombast recoiled.

Her speech ended. And I burst into tears. I wept for not more than two minutes. With my breath shattered, I declared to myself nothing. Just sat back and wrote this song.

Track Two: The World After Nine In The Evening

I was walking around the neighborhood of where I was living at the time. I was smoking a little pot and getting a bit paranoid everyone around knew what I had been doing, and had a problem with it. As I turned down my street, the opening line and melody came into my thoughts, “Nobody knows. Nobody cares.” I went right upstairs to my apartment, sat down and wrote this song.

Track Three: When You’re In The Airport Sleeping

I don’t remember writing this song; what I was feeling when my pen glided across whatever upon which I was writing. But I’ve spent a lot of time with it, and in reading the lyrics and thinking about them in relation to the melody, it seems to me like the song is trying to express how mysterious our existence is. I mean, I live in Queens and commute to Manhattan every day. I work at an extremely popular bookstore. I see thousands of different people at all times. And I can at least discern that every one of them have vast ideas about what the hell is going on right now in our world. There are many of us who look for guidance, and often in a kind of religious devotion. I have the general idea that most Believers aren’t sure why or in what they actually believe. And neither do I. It’s that which this song discusses. Are we the angels? And if so, when we choose to believe in the idea of repeating lines someone else came up with (in penance given by a catholic priest, there often consists the saying of the Our Father or Hail Mary a certain number of times in a row) I wonder if we’re learning much from our mistakes. This to me is expressed every time our politicians claim their Thoughts and Prayers Are With _________. Doesn’t really seem to me to calm anything.

Funny, as I’m writing this, I recall that I did write the second part of the song in the airport. And I really did buy a pen for $2 and was writing on a napkin.

Anyway, the last line says it all, I think:

“You see an angel on the wing and she’s laughing. No she’s not.”

If there’s an angel there, I can’t believe her to be laughing. I’m certain she’d be as frustrated as everyone else.

Track Four: I Studied Quoth The Raven (Imagined It Could Fly)

I never did like Edgar Allen Poe too much. He was an undeniably gifted writer, and a truly tortured mind, in judging from his stories. Nearly all of what he wrote is famous and read and studied, and the hook of Quoth the Raven is known by, seemingly, everyone: “Nevermore”.

The poem as a whole is the writing of a lonely man in a state of paranoia; a place I’ve certainly been. In imagining the Raven could fly – instead of just perched above the chamber door, presumably watching and waiting for death – there is the hope present that even though death is waiting for each of us, there is truly no reason to fear it. Life is Just a Ride. For one, leave your bedroom. And when you do, try and experience everything you can.

At the time I wrote this song, I was living in Cleveland, knowing I’d soon be moving to New York with Allie (whose voice on this song is her first appearance on this album) and reassuring myself that even though I’d spent so long inside my little room, with the titular Raven watching and waiting, there’s really no reason to not take chances; to escape the horrors of the mind and the apprehension of the end we all as human beings know will one day come. Because the point of life isn’t what happens afterword. It’s what’s happening now.

The reference to a Father trying to bridge the space between two sides is how I sometimes see institutions: rearing and steering, instead of guiding. Because at some point one will realize the holes in their shoes. But we must continue to walk.

Track Five: The Ornamental Crown

I really like everything about this song. From the chord progression to the off-kilter hook, to Allie’s vocals, to the electric guitar playing. As far as the meaning of the lyrics, I feel like it’s rather straightforward: Thinking is both real and profound, generally. But it doesn’t account for the weather, and how the environment you’re in – and the experiences you draw upon – can change your thought process. Walking around stoned in Washington Square Park will make you notice all sorts of things about the folks who hang out there. One may even see the inherent divinity in people, wearing their invisible Ornamental Crown for all others to take note of.

And then there’s the people who spend their lives seeing those Crowns everywhere, who just look away, smoke another cigarette, and go home and go to sleep.

Track Six: Empty Seats

Whenever I’m making a full length album, there is inevitably one song I include as a sort of philosophic filler. Not in the way people usual talk about Filler Songs on Records – those being the throw away songs the artist slotted in so there would be enough songs to literally fill up an LP; the song that the artist knows is meaningless, and not very good.

I know that Empty Seats isn’t meaningless, but it’s also the weakest song on the album. It’s dressed up a bit differently – production wise – than any other song here. I did that to make it more interesting. Because on its own, I’m not too interested in it. However, lyrically, what it says fits in the scheme of the record, and is more than true: the lack of money is what keeps people from experiencing all that this world has to offer. The lyrics spell out how much I want to make enough money so I can share it with everyone I know who doesn’t have very much…I mean, the seats in the theatre are empty anyway. Why can’t I just go in there and sit down? …I mean, I Can. But why am I not Allowed?

Track Seven: The Opinion Of A Police State

What this song describes, is the soul of this album: the mind of the criminal going places to commit his crimes which seem idealistically off-limits, and yet in his mind he is doing good. Then, the folk singer adds a band, thinking that’s what people want. And then, to realize that it all seems inside the State’s control; and if not the State, then the global excretion of anti-intellectualism that has bred our culture of money-love, even as most everyone is in poverty…our poverty being the only thing holding us back. And yet all of this – in the mind of the perfectly right-minded – dissolves into a series of misunderstandings. Even in stealing from the top to lift up the bottom, there is the concept that everyone is down here anyway, making mistakes and sometimes never learning anything. Though sometimes learning the very essence of the self: We are each other’s accessors, in a matter of speaking. We each serve a different purpose. And it adds up to something bigger than whatever nonsense America and Capitalism are meant to define. We are one. Good or bad, there’s no escaping it. Gotta lean into it. And take with you whatever you truly need to move forward. A writer takes a pen; a poet, their vocal cords.

Track Eight: Such A Night

-I fell in love just as fascist ideology was taking hold of the United States, during the election cycle leading up to 2016 and Donald J Trump’s election to the presidency (sic).

-Turpentine is good for joint pain, muscle pain, nerve pain, toothaches, and lung disease. Maybe. Either way, one definitely should never drink it.

Track Nine: It’s Quit Normal For This Time Of Year

Quite an angry song, indeed.

140 characters should be changed to 280. Hooray.

Track Ten: The Best Again

Most likely, this song will forever be the saddest song I ever wrote. I don’t remember writing it, honestly. But I feel it mostly explains itself: Striving for a constant beauty amongst the hellish conditions of Earth in the foul year of our Lord, two thousand and seventeen. Who really knows why the hell everything is the way it is. Bullshit is everywhere. I certainly need help remembering when to relax and enjoy the little things. It isn’t easy. Maybe it never will be. It’s amazing to have someone along for the ride, even as what complements one day may clash the next…

Track Eleven: Curtain Call

One last grand gesture, I suppose. And a nice segue between this record, and the bliss you’ll feel when you’re again silent with your thoughts.

The Star-Spangled Banner [In tune, and key of E]

(Original words written by Francis Scott Key are mostly intact. I have changed punctuation and melody where appropriate. The final verse as well has been changed, not for any purpose but to describe my feelings on the State of our Union.)


Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars – through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched – were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets’ red glare; the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen, thro’ the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes…
What is that which the breeze – o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows – half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam.
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream…
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: oh, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion…
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.
And the star-spangled banner
In triumph doth wave.
O’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.

Oh thus,
Be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and

May the heaven-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.

Then conquer we must when our causes are just.
And this be our motto: “In no God do we ever…”
And the star-spangled banner waves
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

10 Jokes

-What do you call a rabbit that’s been sitting out for a while?
-A dust bunny.

-Why did the dove fly south for the winter?
-Because it’s warmer.

-Knock Knock
-Who’s there?
-Rabbits who?
-Nah…owls who

-Knock Knock
-Who’s there?
-Piglet who?
-Piglet Jackson the third. We had an appointment…

Two people meet on a barge. One says to the other, “Ya think?” the other replies, “What do you mean?”

-What did the fan say to the paperclips?
-“I’m so glad you’re here. I’m a really big fan.”

-Why couldn’t the crow sit over the traffic any longer?
-It was out of breath from warning all the pedestrians.

-What did the flower say to the pasture?
-“I’m right outside the fence”

-Who were Mozart’s influences?
This one’s not a joke, I just want to know.

-What did the doctor say to the leaky watch?
-“I’m afraid you’re running out of time.”
(written by allie)

Art’s Seeming Indifference

Lion tigers
A symptom
Sons; daughters
The price
And their ankles
To be worshiped
But art’s indifference
Seems too nice
And yet the cordial
Faints are handed
When reason’s swift
And doctors don’t understand
That learned patients
Are their corners
Their circle
And all the while
A lying race
That never handles
At its face value
What temperature brings to pardon
I love it
And it is traced
To lectures skipped
And ethics fixed
On goodness gracious
Take a swig

Juxtaposed or, Ring Ring Hello (a short story)

When Xander sat down for breakfast, he had only a few things on his plate: six eggs, nineteen cherries, four powdered donuts, and a piece of toast cut diagonally and smothered with margarine. He was a hungry man, so he tended to try and eat as much all at once as he could, and at least three times daily. Some may say this is just too much. They’d be correct some days, and incorrect other times.

What time is it? thought Xander.

It was early morning, and he’d slept alright. However, he woke with a slight headache, like maybe he had gotten drunk last night, and maybe not. He didn’t completely mind, mind you. He did, indeed, at least enjoy his dreamless sleep.

So, over breakfast he sat staring down at his food. He wasn’t sure what to eat first and how many. So he went for the eggs because he was sure that those would be gross if gotten cold. He ate them very very quickly. All six of them…down to the crumbs he licked off the white porcelain. And then feeling a bit squeamish, he went looking for his keys.

He found them inside of his jacket pocket. However, once he’d found them, he’d forgotten why he needed them in the first place. And so he put them back.

He sat down again above his plate of food, now consisting of nineteen cherries, four powdered donuts, and a piece of toast cut diagonally and smothered with margarine. This is disgusting, he thought. And so he got up and went over to the window, looking out at the sky and wondering what was up there today. What is a happy sky? Or a distant sky? Or not a sky at all? He shook his head slowly and went back down to sit over his breakfast.

Xander was a quiet man. He hadn’t spoken in months. He’d taken no vow, of course, but still hadn’t spoken. He wondered why.
He stopped wondering.
He knew.

He went back to sit over his breakfast. “This is disgusting!” he exclaimed. All of a sudden, he heard a phone ring somewhere. He wasn’t sure from where because there was no phone and he had no neighbors. He did have a pad of paper, so he wrote it down that a bell rang, and the time it happened. “It might mean something some day,” he said, even though “something” and “some day” are the two most vague and ridiculous concepts known to humankind.

He put his pen down and ate his donuts. And now he was thirsty, so he went to the bathroom, and while doing so dipped a paper cup into the tank at the back of his toilet.

He came back to sit down above his breakfast. Leering, he mashed up the cherries until they were a pulpy mess of juice and skins, and separated them from their pits before topping his toast with the remnants. He sat looking down at what he’d made, nodding to nothing and to no one. Then, he took a bite. He was reminded that he didn’t care for the taste of cherry, so he spit it out. And ended putting the rest of his breakfast in the garbage.

A bell rang again.

“Hello?!” bellowed Xander.

“Good morning, may I speak with Xander?”

“This is he, ye old bat!”

“Good morning, Mr. Xander. Before we continue, will you please confirm your date of birth?”


“Yes, thank you. And then of course the date and year. As birthdays go.”

Xander wondered for a moment. He couldn’t remember, so he looked down at his toes and counted them.


There was a pause before, “And the year, Mr. Xander. The year you were born.”

Xander thought for a moment about how old he was, but suddenly wasn’t too sure. So he thought about what he’d had for breakfast, and fixed the numbers into a year. “1946 and a piece of toast cut diagonally. No!! Scratch that! I’m 85! I’m 85!”

The voice on the other end of no telephone seemed to smile to itself. “Thank you, Mr. Xander. How can I help you today?”

“You called me, ye old fidget strip!”

“Yes. I’m calling today because you may already be prequalified for-”

“I don’t know any!”

“-a dream vacation. And if you don’t know by now…”

Xander suddenly jumped for joy. He went downstairs to his workroom and began to put together some knobs and switches. A few moments later, the telephone had been invented. Some time later, it was reinvented and subsequently destroyed over some time later. “Some day, I wonder what else might happen to the telephone,” said Xander. So he fixed a bell to the receiver, hoping for help when it did.


Of course, this isn’t quite how any of this happened.
That much should go without saying.
But a joke is a joke which has made me to laugh.
And if you’re not funny, you’re fallow.
Unless you’re too sad.
Or too yellow.

Dear God (and off like lightning)

skip the rope.
jump the tide.
no one ever has it right.
only left to be a man
until the world
is centrifuge.
all in all,
a captain’s hune
for a little passion plan.
and so we go back out.
but you play a game
that i found out.
and as the mothers are homecoming,
please go dancing.
skip the rubbing
and be a good boy.
please your tells.

cause on we go…
Trump’d down.
but play a handle with no hands shooting.
the valves are begging you to press and hum.
my only matter is a seeming circle.
my only dig into the world is god.
and earth is round.
te please.
beds are sweating from summer’s faucets
and you’re letting business handle human rights.
and as the president aids Satan,
he just erupts into a bitter kite
to let it go
sometimes i wonder if its diamond’s telling:
a game of instincts that you’ve lost, it seems.
and even if it turns out i’m pissing,
i’m off like lightning to the copper key:
now truth spills.
and now im hoping that your stupid nonsense
is copping back to sit like finer thugs;
to let your tongue release its wagging;
to chase your tail or splash with slugs.
cause if you hear,
hear now.
my happy days give nights their resting;
my dreams describe to me a placid well
that i go driving into like serpents.
if you can’t see that’s torture
then you never will.
and even so,
slipped fowl,
give your handshakes.
collect your whatever.
find bothering
is just
’til it’s a fucking disgrace.
and then it’s the exact same world
on a different day.
hip hip..

Morning Recess (a short story)

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Ine. She was 7. One morning at recess – she was of the age where there were two recesses every day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon – she was playing by herself, because for a little girl like Ine, playing by herself in the morning was only natural.

So she was sitting by herself, drawing pictures with chalk on the concrete. She was using all of the in-between colors: purples and pinks, oranges and greens; and also neons. She was drawing all sorts of things. None of what she was drawing ended up the color they are in real life, but she didn’t mind. Finally, she stood up and looked down at what she had drawn and thought, “That’s a nice picture.”

So she picked up her jump rope and walked over to the boys playing basketball. She asked if she could play, and they said of course! So one of the boys tossed her the basketball, and she threw it up into the air and made a perfect basket, nothing but net. “Wow! You’re good!” Said one of the boys. “You should play every morning!”

“Every morning?” Said Ine. “But I might not like to if I play it every day.” So she said thank you anyway, and picked up her jump rope, walking to the other side of the playground where there were boys and girls playing Tag. One watched for a moment, and thought, “Tag. Gat. Gatsby. The Great Gatsby. I’d bet he’d like to play tag.” And so she went over to one of the girls and tagged her on the arm. The little girl looked at her and tagged her back. “Hey, no tagbacks!” Said Ine with a smile. The little girl looked sad. “I’m sorry.” She said. “Tag me back and we’ll start over.” Ine’s smile faded and said, “I can’t tag you back, it’s against the rules. But let’s instead just pretend this never happened.” The little girl tilted her head to the left and giggled. So Ine picked up her jump rope and walked away.

She ended up over by the jungle gym. She saw some children going down the slides, some going up the slides. She saw some children dangling from the monkey bars, and some on top of the monkey bars. She saw children underneath playing in the wood chips, and some were stacking the wood chips, some were throwing the wood chips. Some were even eating the wood chips! Ine just laughed and picked up her jump rope.

She figured it was almost time for recess to be over, so she made her way over toward the door back into school and started to jump rope. She was very good at jumping rope. She could do it fast or slow, stepping or hopping. She could criss-cross. Once she even threw the rope around herself twice before her feet hit the ground!

Suddenly, the bell rang. She was up in the air and she was so startled, she dropped her jump rope. But she landed anyway, because that’s what happens after someone jumps.

So recess ended, and Ine ended up at the front of the line, leading her class back into school. And all of her classmates were behind her thinking about what she had been doing all recess, and hoping she had fun.

At afternoon recess (because what happens in between recesses doesn’t matter too much to a 7 year old…or 8 year old…or 9, or 10, or 11, or 12 year old. Because at some point there’s no more recess, and no one is sure why) Ine joined all of her classmates in one big game of soccer. They played the whole recess. And they all made a hat trick! All two dozen of them.

When she got out of school that afternoon, Ine’s Mom and Dad greeted her at the bus stop with hugs and kisses and a slice of warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream. They walked and talked about how their days were, and discussed what to make for dinner. Finally, they asked her what she learned in school that day. With a grin, Ine looked up at the birds all spread out across five rows of power lines. She hummed a little tune and said she’d show them when they got home. Of course, her Mom and Dad looked at each other knowingly, smiling all the same.

As they arrived home, Ine filed them into the living room. She got out a piece of paper and a pencil, and wrote:

(3×24) ÷ 2 = 36

Her Dad smiled very wide and then asked her if she knew the name for the kind of math she had just done. Smiling even wider, Ine replied, “Afternoon Recess.” Her Mom smiled the widest, and looked to her husband expecting him puzzled. He looked back and winked before asking Ine what she learned in Morning Recess. “The Future,” she replied. And giving her parents each a nice hug, she went off to her room to read until dinner.