Tag Archives: original song

Houdini’s Last Words

From Appleton Street
In Milwaukee
To East 79th
In New York

I was a child flying
From a trapeze
The prince of air

I’m tired of fighting, Dash
I guess this thing is going to get me
You & I always knew
What we had to do to get ourselves free
And every eye could see
Whether astounded bourgeois
Or enchanted children of poverty
There are no odds that overcome mastery
Except this thing
Is going to get me

I met you
When you were sixteen
A Floral Sister
At the Sea Beach Palace
Coney Island

The one & only
Theodore Hardeen
A strongman within
Broken chains
Fed my secrets to his flames
My brother introduced you
To me


But for the absence of magic
In the conditions of fate
This charge
I cannot evade

Live @ The Bowery Electric: 3/24/18

Songs & Lyrics

1. Floyd Patterson

Ready to brawl
Took a standing eight count
You can’t knock me out
I won’t allow it

I know I’m wrong
To seek sweet vengeance
But its just business
My endowment

The contender today
Can be champ tomorrow
And the champ yesterday
Hits the canvas harder

On my own
After getting knocked out
You left no doubt
We’re a split decision

Posing as unknown
Fake beard and sunglasses
I’m badly beaten
But I’m not finished

Well I’ve been fighting
And I’ve been winning
And I am aiming
To be champ for the third time
I’m not your villain
Just a gentleman
You better repent
If you think something’s wrong
With me getting mine

They don’t exist
When my opponent and I
Are fitted with gloves
Baby it broke my heart
When you spoke of revolution
As if it were bigger than
Our love

Wish I knew
The right words
But fighting’s what I do
Though I had to fight
For everything I got
I never wanted to
Fight you

The contender today
Can be champ tomorrow
And the champ yesterday
Hits the canvas harder

2. Intimate Secrecy

It’s a casting call
For the bourgeois
The motivation’s alienation
Expressed demographically

Assigned a file
Investigating destiny
A subject in denial
Like we’re meant to be

Well I want to find
The right leather gloves for me
I’m going to blindfold you
So I can finally see

Concrete never sleeps
Took a loan out on my dreams
Does it turn you on?
It turns me on
Our intimate secrecy

In the meeting
The boss said we’re a team
I’m a sense-maker
On a cheap salary

I’m lucky to be here
We talk about TV
Before we burrow underground
To go to our next place to be

Well I’m in a bind
Too many promises to keep
I’m going to gag your mouth
So I can finally speak
Does it turn you on?
It turns me on
Our intimate secrecy

The price we pay
For pleasure’s
A step too steep
Does it turn me on?
It turns me on
Our secret intimacy

3. The Composer

On my winter beach
The sand turns to ash
And the permanent sea
Whispers to me
The difference between
Fate and destiny

My violent tides inside
Led me onto the 7 train line
And your silhouette against a neon sign
Advertising an unsolved crime
Investigated by time
You will be mine

Amie, can’t you see?
I’m scoring the new
Spider-Man movie
We’ll have silver sown in our backs
Gold encrusted spines
We’ll wander down Broadway
You can play my (bride)

The pop porno was loud
So I started reading your lips
We shared a margarita kiss
To prove we exist
With our mariachi hips
Dancing over the abyss

My tide was high
Before I lost my mind
After the recession
The pyramid procession
Coercing his confession
Without learning our lesson

We ran and hid
In Rockaway
You got clean
And wanted to stay
But I said you were a slave
Quit the game
I’d understand too late
Loneliness is the sister of shame

Red Carpets
Clean money
You called me
Your honey
I wanted it to work
Wanted to keep it together
I really thought that money
Had me
Feeling better

Amie, can’t you see?
I’m scoring the new
Spider-Man movie
We’ll have silver sown in our backs
Gold encrusted spines
We’ll wander down Broadway
You can play my bride

4. Emily & Bobby Lee

Well Emily
Draws a family
On the sidewalk
With chalk

She writes apologies
To her bloody knees
And wishes you knew how
To talk

Her friends had decided
On a world divided
And held close the dust
Death does stalk

Her life was evidence
Understood as common sense
Fear haunting her
Lonely school-walk

Growing, fifteen
With friends and alone
In need of love
And a stranger at home

They say

Leave it
To the
Leave it
To the

Well, Bobby Lee
Prays to a father in the army
He’s a hero they say
And deserves appreciation

They remind the son
Dad’s work is never done
Heroes have obligations
In this nation

Yeah the war was properly planned
A child couldn’t understand
Men fight to uphold
Our democratic creation

One generation protects another
Like the older protects the younger
We have rules and laws
Our declaration

Yeah this country can protect
Our young and defenseless
That was always the point
The implied message

So do you realize why
Father is away?
So you can be free
In the land of the brave

Do you see now?
You will be safe
You will be safe
Go to school, child
You’ll be safe

Just leave it
To the
Leave it
To the

5. Coney Island Moonlight

Coney Island moonlight
Steel fingertips shining bright

They face the sky from an open palm
At midnight when the boardwalk’s calm

Took the Q to Cortelyou
And you said we had to be through

Wither true & untrue
On Ocean Avenue
Our empty rendezvous
You’re someone & no one too
Upon any hour through
In a day they call new
For the survivors few
And I’m the card you drew

Lonesome and wanting to sob
Waiting on a word from God

I’m so anonymously yours
Eying you while the crowd roars

While you perform your burlesque
You & I know we’ll never have their respect


6. Usually

This machine
Keeps talking
And your killer
Is stalking
Through the fields
Of our American dreams

My education’s
Performance art
My reflection’s
On the boulevard
In ghost initials
Etched in their margins

And when we met on the street
Your face
It snapped into tight focus

And when we danced at discreet
Our pace
Was simultaneous slow-motion

And I
Usually run x2

But not from you

So the demagogue’s
Gone wireless
And the resistance is tireless
While I feel empty
For being simply disgusted

But you’re double
At the liquor store
Keeps the landlord
From our jammed front-door
While we wait on your twenty in-progress

And when we feel our defeat
Our trace
Is like bait in the ocean

They swarm our retreat
Our space
Is their abstract notion

And I
Usually run x2

But not without you
But not without you

The bells, the bells
They’re ringing
The bells
They’re ringing
For our love
And the bells, the bells
Are ringing
The cardinals are
For our love

#17: Reasons to Try

Comes a time
In anyone’s life
When they need to know more
Than wrong or right

No borrowed reason
From a prophet’s quill
Performed as ritual
Expressed as will

Life can’t find me
In the anonymity
Of amnesia city
I become a body
Renting my memory
To clarify
Reasons to try

It’s for every marriage
That seemed sensible
Every neurosis
Every lover
Pining for a friend
Every dream come true
Better in pretend

Every poet
Silenced by shame
Every entertainer
Devoured by fame
Every illusion
Sustaining a believer
Every reality
Enslaving the dreamer

You can find me
In the virgin country
Known as memory
You were a suffragette
Renting my body
To clarify
Reasons to try

For every poor child
Hungry in a ghetto
Every jetsetter
Considering suicide in a chateau
Every practitioner
Seeking enlightenment
Every great mind
Stymied by entitlement

Every single mother
Working overtime
Every inmate
Consumed by a culture of crime
Every kind soul
Willing to give back
Every widow
Feeling the lack

Comes a time
In a person’s life
Comes a time
In a person’s life

#9: Places You Took Me

Followed your silhouette
From the band shell
To the Bowery

Never turned your head
While moving your legs
You made quiet company

Always pondering
Your next experiment
Now I wonder where
Our chapters went

Places you took me
Faces who knew me
Because of you

You wanted to excavate
The bones of my

Said you were different
From those girls
Who thought they understood

Well honey that used to be the home
Of Rudolph Valentino
And these midnight spray-painters
Believe Mussolini a hero

Places I took you
Phases you passed through
Cause of me

Well I guess we were too different
In that way
Similar people can be

My father was a bookie
Yours was a professor of philosophy

But god it felt so right
Strolling in Strawberry Fields
With our glasses of moonlight
Places you took me
Faces who knew me
Because of you

Places I took you
Phases you passed through
Cause of me

#8: Stem of Time

A gray afternoon
On Fifth Avenue
Where dreams and reality
The homeless man
Wants to dance
With you
While you walk through
Filament truths
You thought knew

The folkies negotiate
Their record contracts
While slugging pills
For panic attacks
God forbid their truth is a lie
Like those secrets kept
Between you and I

Ten pretty lyricists
Atop Carnegie Hall
Tangled in parachutes
Thrashing for their fall
Meaning means nothing
At all

And on the stem
Of Time
You and I
Comprise a 21st Century
Though the roots are strong
The stem does bend
We climb and we don’t know why
For the rose
That must be our end

Another twilight
Over Riverside Drive
The fortress shines
Like it could be alive
An accident ahead
A stranger might’ve died
You are impatient
Because you need
To drive

Back to the neighborhood
You want to escape
Where they haven’t calculated love
Without their hate
And your meat is waiting
Don’t be late
For all the ways you call
Emptiness fate

And what you deem ambition
Annihilates the self
Because your happiness
Is owned by someone else
In you, I loved me
In the age of media
Connection’s an anomaly

Now you are gone
And I drive alone
Passenger seat empty
I could call you on the phone
I want to but I can’t
And I know I won’t
And you will and you might
But you don’t

I never wanted you to be a ghost to me
We were young and we were flesh
And for a second we were free
Now I am once again
Someone like me
Rubbing static crumbs of light
Within America’s dream

#7: Don’t You Know

All that violence
Made it inconvenient
To fit into the narrative
I’m supposed to belong to

My friend carried a stickball bat
Because they wanted to kill him
A couple years later
The drugs did it for them

He hung from the windows of speeding cars
And encouraged me to write
Somewhere in time
I’m hanging out with him tonight

He’s part of history
As are all we
And who tells the story

Don’t you know
Don’t you know
A pretty pop song makes the world go round
Don’t you know
Don’t you know
If you ain’t pretty
They don’t want you to make a sound

I, me, and my ugly voice
Remember every wrong choice
I could be easily gone
I received a reprieve

You, found me in the noise
You comforted me
I wanted to die
And you showed me what to need

So, I fell in love with you
And you saw my soul bared
You won’t speak to me these days
But I still think of you when I’m scared

When my mind gets dark
I think of him
I think of you
You both wanted me to write
Maybe you both understood

How do you?
Reconcile a second life?

#3: Colors of Surrender

Shred of a memory
The end of our history
A lonely diner in the snow

To harmonize with the enemy
For the need of their money
Now I know I must go

And when you say
Our war is over
It shouldn’t take the weight
From your shoulder

I saw you
Coming over
In the colors of surrender

Our booth in a white tint
Upon the table a napkin and mint
You explain the terms of the treaty

To be an adult is to compromise
The ideal is unwise
To feed your family is not greedy

They were our songs you owned
A shared dream you loaned
To those who’d find our sidewalks seedy

And I remember kissing
A four-leaf clover
When we were kids
Before life got colder

Then you tell me
What you told her
You got to get paid
If you’re a pretender

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