From Resignation Day
You’re gonna have to wait until spring Amanda, ‘cause the weight of winter’s dragging us down. I drove away, let you surrender to sheets of ice and dented fenders. Took fifty aspirin, made you drift right off to sleep. You were lost for months, I found you like a stranger outside some thrift store alone smoking cloves. Your wool cap and your worn out jacket fit you just like your bad habits. You got tired of walking this snow filled empty town. “Where’s the end of night? What’s the point?” I heard you say. When no one cares, I might. How’d green eyes ever get so gray? Who’s clouded up your sights? It won’t always look like it looks tonight.
Today you looked alright, but forcing smiles has to be painful. What’s the point in speeding to red lights? We both know this ain’t what you were made for. It’s not your home; it’s a road at West End. All of the places that you’ve ever been to keep on strangling you. Guess I’ll just make believe the sun will rise when you leave and wave goodbye to this lonely nowhere town. You spent a lifetime on your own, you know it’s cleaner without baggage. Tried but end up traveling alone; pack any hope that you can salvage. It’s time to go off this road at West End… She drove her yellow Ford up 94, we all know about the need to wander around the country, to quit. I put some coffee on, sat on the couch, watched the late autumn leaves and I tried not to think about it.
I show up, but it’s only part-time. Still just a dirty animal like back when we didn’t need no paychecks and life wasn’t so complex. I showed you what it meant to get drunk; tried not to wake your parents up. And we said white collars won’t be our bag but this jukebox got no Black Flag. Tilt your glass and we’ll drink the moment, tomorrow’s coming; it’ll find us won’t it. If I’m running on tell me. Climb the walls, look for lost convictions, study my face I’m a contradiction. Talk’s cheap whiskey’s not free. We got one more round inside us. This costume makes me itch. Remember when we fished the docks preseason and we shaved for no reason? Used to try to make connections, now I won’t let them in. Hey I miss Pam, ‘cause man she didn’t make it; you’re dealt a hand, you take it. Next time, we can’t make it so long. I’m gonna get straight, but I gotta hear the song before we go.
EMPTY YOUR BOTTLES
Let’s get reborn tonight like phoenix in bar lights. Burn up, plans don’t seem so crazy. They all look clear through the cloudy beer. We can rise up and leave this urban ashtray. Blaze away, and set some fires on Lyndale. Losing days, if we stay this numb there’s no way that we’ll fail now. No one really gets us, no one does; we’ve smoldered in silence. Now I’m yelling at the approaching skyline ‘cause the routine don’t make sense. Listen to Kerouac; he’s talking to us. Pack up your bags, if we don’t run we’ll rust. Take me away with you. Yeah take me down; can’t move until I get kicked around. Front porch, empty bottles, your hiccups; toast to new days. Simpatico don’t wake me up.
Man I wonder – you spent the summer south riding bikes instead of punching time clocks. If voices said go to Colorado – it’s such a scenic place to end a story. You’d been waking up to shit; stood in the background watching. Couldn’t tell what was in your head; you didn’t say ‘cause you don’t like talking, no. You, idling and counting steps left to go. You got your radio; more the days go by, more the static drones. Stuck waiting for a couple words to bleed through. I remember you couldn’t get inside. It’s a long way home. If I’m out your way I’ll stop someday; think I heard someone say out West on 55. Ask why, ask what for. I blame it on your Saltash luck, your twenties, and North Dakota.
From hazy days to something real; too far in to walk away, though I think I know the deal. I watched her face turn white to red, and then it hit me. She said “I’ve seen enough, I know you’re a dying breed.” Go to meet Samantha, picture what I’ve missed the most. Her, Garfield Ave., and all the record stores, the shady dives we’d haunt as ghosts. I draw my coat closed and bound up the stairs ‘cause I’m back from the war. Feel the fear setting in, can’t relate anymore, then I’m met by a note stuck with gum to the door. You’re not alone, welcome home. We dropped into the sofa. The ugly scenes are gone. You can’t stay mad that long. Some brains are just wired wrong. We talk about the weather and the color clouds are lined. You’re bored, I’m counting time – I got thirty days behind me. Catch a cab on Lyndale, heading downtown past Block E. It’s all cleaned up, there’s no more Moby Dick’s, this place ain’t what it used to be and yet I’m still me. In from the cold, reminded I’m unhip; when my fingers are thawed I’m still losing my grip. I keep standing and sitting and thumbing my chip, it’s heads no, and tails go.
What’s wrong? What’s right? Who cares? Not when you’re living in strange nights and sleeping through strange days. Plot lines and motives twist up; it’s hard to navigate streets when signs are pointing in new ways. Odds are rough, but still you pick your dog, if he gets turned around you bet again. That corner’s tough; sometimes you play the game, sometimes the game you play plays you. Watch me rust, can’t read this compass I used to trust. It’s all broken, it’s all corrupt. This Baltimore knot’s got me all tied up. Spark combust, and sift for something in ash and dust. It’s all broken, it’s all corrupt. This Baltimore knot’s got me all tied up. When you’re all tied up you let go. Down by tracks, outside the county line. Sit on our hoods and stare up at the sky for signs. Drink until there’s nothing left to say. Licking black and blues, most efforts end confused. You do too.
Daylight in the east over Thunder Bay. You laugh like you’re crazy. Wading through a drowsy communiqué as I blow smoke off the second floor. Scribble what you’ll do, erasing what you’ll quit. Since you don’t leave the house, I’m it. You’re a jigsaw puzzle but none of the pieces fit. The Fuller House is a place to hide when traffic gets backed up outside. Just close the blinds before they break your heart in two. We block out the sun ‘cause it shows too much; there are bottles we’ve still never touched. Nothing beats having nothing else to do. Talking to the trees, remember what I said – “you’re kind of amazing” – and I’ve still got your voice buzzing in my head as I make the climb up Dorseto Hill. Up to a sleeping street and into 303. Want more of you rubbed off on me so for the summer months I’ll just get marked absentee.
I’ve chased this blue moon down all night, have I been gaining any ground? You’re picture’s stapled to my dash. I’m done killing time in gray ghost towns. I’m heading south in search of life; the blinding turns, the twisting knives, now I’m just driving straight on. I’ll scrape the freezing rain from off this window pane; a couple states from sane, eyes aching, drift awaken. Until the ice bleeds blue, until the green shoots through. Until I get to you, I’ll brace for your screen door. Gravity struck, I rolled downhill. Seen depths I’ve never seen before. It’s hard to warm against concrete; you can’t wrap your arms around a floor. So now I beat a fast retreat back to SLP and your street; can you just hold on? Living reckless and naïve; it’s always so easy to leave but then it’s hard to get back. I closed my eyes and I looked at you, counted up all of my mistakes, choked some more muddy coffee back, and did my best just to stay awake. If I could just stay awake, don’t know why I left you.
Stumbled up the alley over tins and wires and broken boxes left for us to trip across. Another bunch of rotten bad luck; you can’t win man, what’d I tell you? Mucking hands can have a cost. First soaring then collision; like my television, stories all end up the same. So we just drink deep, inhale, and cough; move on before it wears off. Are we smarter than this shell game? I blinked (I’m not). Up the street to Grand Avenue, end up at the waterfront where pollution’s made the sky go black. Never trust the books and never screw the ones who don’t deserve it. Slump let reflections play back; watch. It’s no use kid, I can’t stop bleeding. Take this old guitar; it’s all I’m leaving. It’s seen the Jersey pines, bright neon signs and rode the Brighton Line. I’ll tell you what you’re up against, it’s the toughest fucking town I’ve ever seen and you’re going it alone; you’re an outsider so keep your profile low.
“If I could hit rewind,” Jackie said, “I’d like to see what it’d be like to take a different road that didn’t wind up in a dull suburban life. ‘Cause we’ve got so much, still know I’m losing; it always hits me hardest when traffic’s not moving.” Sink holes in bus seats from the days set on repeat; chew my leg out of the snare and limp away to don’t know where. But these dreams and diatribes stay at the park and ride, ‘cause we still queue up outside. That’s the way it; the way that we exist. This route’s not going away.
Lean my forehead against the window glass, it bends the lights that drip. Inside, spent days roaming room to room with instincts unapplied. September’s here and we ain’t been ourselves lately. The old me liked the old you. I’d know from around the corner. When no one’s there it’s panic and disorder. Clock hands creeping by; why am I always surprised? The dish cracked and dried. I wait for the door to unlock, clawing walls and gnawing on the sheetrock. Sifting through wreckage for some scraps thrown before the world collapsed. I’m winding up, still I’m more unwrapped. If something snaps… You know that just a walk through Logan Park could save us all; we’d hear some natural sound. I’d stretch out and feel the grass beneath, not artificial ground. But you’ve had plans lately; when you hit the floor maybe scream if you can see me. Treating creatures like machines. But we can’t be controlled all the time, no, resistance breeds. If we don’t get what we need, get bent and bowed, tick explode.
Cracked paint, faded signs, she said “I’m done. I feel a lot like this town, I’m so rundown. Did the job but it up and died. I’ve got to find something new that I can be now. So what defines me? Are all my best days and years behind me? Far from the places we used to talk about. Picked up, chewed on and then spit out.” We kicked rocks a couple blocks and no one talked. “It’s amazing I can fit five years in a broken cardboard box. Well I guess I’m still alive.” Blueprints they blew up the story’s old. You grab a hold of what gets thrown or else you drown. See ideals and my visions all burn up. When the sun and nothingness beat down. Then we caught our reflection in the window. She said “I act tough, but we both know. That this puffed up face is safe in well worn places. Hurts to let it go. Give me some answers ’cause now I’m lost. So just where are we going now?”
You’re nothing new here. You’re just a bleeder who got thrown into this mess. So stop pretending you know anything. Double your fists up. Grit your teeth let anger build up in your chest. They’ll spin you around and point out your enemy. Forget to remember everything you were told about what we do. ‘Cause you know that won’t keep you warm when a cold wind rips through. You’re a bleeder and we’re a couple raindrops in the storm. Falling down so why would we try, it won’t dry out. I saw one world die I see a worse one being born. Withdrawn, check the eyes they just stare on. If you’re lucky it won’t be long before you get there too. There’s no backing up. Driving out west never guessed that it’d all end up here. Stare at the sky and watch all of it disappear from me