TWO FEET SHY
 
That’s all you were, 
   always on the fall
Two feet shy
   of someone tall
Ooh, lord!
What an eyeful
      when you'd call on her
      bird bath hands
   (if you’d land at all)
      bird bath hands
   (if they’re hands at all)

You’ve more room than I
   to move your feet to
so why not move into
the room
that you keep
   on tiptoeing into
whenever I sleep?
Is it somewhere
   you’ve been to, 
or somewhere
   I’ll send you
when I’ve spent too long
try'na map out the corners
where you
hadn’t gone?

You and me
and the room
   make three
of a pair
  with too
many legs
   to share
      and too many ifs
   I can’t sit on politely
No, I’m gonna find me
   a four-legged chair
I’m gonna find me
   a four-legged chair

That’s all you were, 
   always on the fall
Two feet shy
   of someone tall
Ooh, lord! 
What an eyeful
      when you'd call on his
      bird bath hands
   (if you’d land at all)
      bird bath hands
   (if they’re hands at all)

 

HI-LIVIN'

Hi-livin’ is where
you find yourself
when all the cards you’ve dealt
have found their way
into your hand
and left a rented lot
just where you thought
your own would stand

After all, you picked a tiny life
Fits small (to spite your height)
But love is best caught
   dumb and poorly dressed
Three trains come,
   take you to the west
Don’tcha tell me why she lives so far
You know those one-train girls
   never made you who you are
Don’tcha tell me why she lives so far

Hi-livin’ is where
you find yourself
when all the cards you’ve dealt
have found their way
into your hand
and left a rented lot
just where you thought
your own would stand
Hi-livin’ is where
you find yourself

You lent me hours
till I sent for all your days
I didn’t spend them
Tucked them all away and left,
left the clock to clack its gears
Tick-tock, I’ve packed
   for ten whole years
What shows?
What shows?
What sho-ho-oh-oh-ohs,
   but a too-fat bag
   that doesn’t close
And it’s something that I just won’t drag
   behind me when I go

Hi-livin’ is where
you find yourself
when all the cards you’ve dealt
have found their way
into your hand
and left a rented lot
just where you thought
your own would stand
Li-livin' is where
you find yourself

 

WHAT THE NEWS IS

God damn these shoes
   that walk me
   anywhere they choose
They’ve brought me
   inches on a map
   and what are inches
   supposed to do?
Cheer a lonely crawl or
   let me know I’m getting taller,
   getting closer to the moon?

You want taking care of in the day
   but when I’m walking well
   I haven’t all that much
   to say
You were something special on the way
   but now you’ll have to live
   without the ears that
   waited in a growing mouth
   ‘til nothing came
   and talked them out  
   of asking what the news is

Ambition is a pricy little girl
   who’ll never need you to be hers
You see, she has enough of those
   kneady, little doughnut holes
   (They’re only known
   for what they leave
   and not what they are)

And so, she’ll take your bracelets
Crowns to frame her face with
Leave you nearly toothless
Tell me if you see her
And tell me—if you see her—
   won’t you ask her what the news is?

I’ll have a listen
   if you can tell me
   what part to rip out
   what heart to rip out
   and what piece to start missing
   what leg to let die
   just to keep on with your living
   a half-legged life
And half-pretty’s all rot
   but it’s enough, 
   enough to get by
   if you don’t stop
   to count your toes
God knows, you won’t need those
   to close a door

 

HELLO, SHADOW
 
Little girl, I think you’re peeling
   off a coat you’re meant to keep
It wraps you tight
   so why the chatter-teeth,
   the tugging at the sleeve?
No pick-pick-picking does you good
It grows as it should
Still talking tender as it bends
   the very marrow underneath

It’s safety-pinned along her hem
   in case she points her toes against
   some other gravel road that grows
   and travels through the skin
   and speaks a mocking click-n-clack
   that doesn’t know an end
   until it meets her on the walking back
   to counsel as a friend

   “Hello, Shadow—good to see
   a sight familiar on the road
   We share a common pair of feet—
   not a common travel home”

   Said the Shadow: “Better leave
   the Sun to learn another face
   He won’t need you when he’s done
   You won’t have to set a place
   And though I know a twice-seen rock
   can talk you into such a state,
   you’ll live to see your pockets burn
   with each and every name you learn
   Here’s hoping by the time you make it
   ‘back’ is not the same”

You’re on your own this time around
   and you can see your own way down
   just like you saw yourself
   to every table top and shelf
   that seemed so high from far below
   when up was still a place to go
   and not a thing to leave you
   when the soil met your toes
   and turned them brown
Brown, muck-brown
No, you don’t get
   to pick a cloud

Don’t tell me you want a hard life
Was boredom such a long, long fight
   to wade through and sleep with
   and draw your breath to sigh
   to swear at as you turned to find
   your toes on a road
   she trailed behind?
And home is hardly what you mind
You keep to a road she trails behind
   so don’t tell me home
   is what you mind

 

HOOKS & EYES

Came to see,
   but the sun won’t come to me
I won’t be the one who waits to speak
   ‘til the light brings something to say
   at once or in piece-lings to parcel away
   the fall of a slow-crawling, bellied sun
   that drags on the ground
   in its legless way

Did you fall for a lamp below your feet?
Pretty things is all,
   and pretty things won’t call
   in the dark
Won’t wait
   while you sleep
I’d set them apart
   before hooks and eyes
   are all that you seek

And I know what cuts you in two
(two parts too much,
for all the good that they do)
You’d be surprised what a needle
and string can do to mend
these types, these types of things
Oh, what a needle
and string can do to mend
these types, these types of things

You, you walk a straight and narrow line
that I can never seem to find
or pick apart from either side

I, I think in circles, and it shows
I know everywhere they go
They only change their lines
enough to keep the play the same
A shrugging course
A shrub of sorts
that grew from what
I wouldn’t tame

I only want the strangest things
(but hoist the bells, and I will sing)
A ribbon strung your heart along
(It’s longer when the bow is gone)

I know how to make a scene:
I’ll tell them each a different thing
and hope it all comes out
the moment that I clear the crowd
And tell me what you hope to bring to pass
by keeping me around
And tell me what you hope to bring to pass
by never being proud

You only want the simplest things
(but hoist the bells, and I will sing)
A ribbon strung your heart along
(It’s longer when the bow is gone)

You ask me if I’ll see it through
I wish I knew, I wish I knew

You know the sound
Some easy words
could twist & turn you out
You know I, you know I
will always track them down

You know the sound,
You know the sound,
You know the sound
and you know I, you know I
will always track it down

 

DIFFERENT SHORES

I’ve been followed, so it seems
   but backwards-looking isn't worth
   the look of things
   so nearly steady on your shoulder,
   shaking out an awful pair of wings
   with a skyward
      reach
(They’ll never fly too far
   while they’re attached
   to me)

Too long I’ve sat a wretch
A rope that doesn’t stretch
   its length for all the knots
   I sink into its threads
And now you pick apart
   how I passed my time
   so often in the dark
   that it took my lines—when I simply found a piece you lost, you lost
                                    I let it swim across, across and draw me
                                       different shores than when you saw me
                                       an age before, an age before
                                    Different shores than when you saw me
                                       an age before, an age before
                                       I worried ‘bout the wedge
                                       breaking one life into two
                                       ‘til each had had enough
                                       and neither twin would seek its pair
                                       or greet the other in a crowd
                                    Long-forgotten kin
                                    Estranged, their faces changed
                                    Eyes protected by the brow
                                       that guards against the dirt
                                    A picket fence, a crown
                                       that fits a little wide
                                       and sits a little low
                                       (as if you took to growing down
                                       when you forgot which way to go)
                                       
                                    I see you less, or rather
                                       less is what I see—
                                       where’s the rest?
                                       where’s the rest?
                                    Is it something that I’ve kept
                                       since I was seventeen
                                       and hardly careful with my things
                                       or careful where I stepped?

                                    But I think I found a piece you lost, you lost
                                    I let it swim across, across and draw me
                                       different shores than when you saw me
                                       an age before, an age before
                                    Different shores than when you saw me
                                       an age before, an age before
                                    
                  And if time aligned us,
                     side by side,
                     he wouldn’t know
                  what’s yours
                           from what
                        is mine

 

THE DOG

He’s what keeps me from picking up the phone
Always in the corner of my eye
Haven’t found him anywhere tonight
Checked the bed and then the kitchen
There was nothing there worth missing
Coffee table on its side
Sticks of gum that stuck to dry
   a Big Red No—
   a walk outside
   in case he’d gone ahead
   and thought I’d only be
   a step behind
But not this time—time to climb
   into the cab and take a drive
   that rang familiar
   though I couldn’t
   tell you why
Guess I needed me another
   pair of eyes
So I woke them when I made it to your door
“I lost my dog.”  You let me in
   (although I know
   I’ve told you that before)

 

ANOTHER THOUGHT

Well, two cheers for the glowing
   candles in your eyes
You know I had
   to dig for mine
And so I sank
   ten curls in the earthy
   thick of night
You know I had to dig for mine

Don’t give me a trifle
   an eyeful of tears
   as something to go on
   when I’m going on years’
   worth of candles to blow on
   without you here

And you want me to half-care
   while you’re half-here
   and you’re half-there
To give you leave
   and a PUSH!
   from the top of the stairs
Where life is but a slide
   down the bannister where
   you will find your own ride
Where life is but a slide
   down the bannister where
   you will find your own
   weight to bear

And I would go along
I would go along, but see
   another thought has taken me
Another thought is taking me
   Out on the Town
   wondering
   what it’d make of me,
   sending you down
   with some blessing or kiss
   or whatever it is that you want
   from my lips
When Father of Bride
   is no title of mine
You can bother the guy
   who has that kind of time

And you want me to half-care
   while you’re half-here
   and you’re half-there
To give you leave
   and a PUSH!
   from the top of the stairs
Where life is but a slide
   down the bannister where
   you will find your own ride
Where life is but a slide
   down the bannister where
   you will find your own
   weight to bear

And I would go along
I would go along, but see now

One of us is a youngish cut
   the other picks, then fixes up
I’m seesaw-sick
   but I won’t get off
Seesaw-sick
   but I won’t get off

 

WALK RIGHT

There’s no sense in both of us going
I’ll send a line and open it knowing
   a verse is time that mercy left hurting
   (but fate forgot to finish the job)

There must be some kernel of hope that the searching
   will soften and offer
   apology working
her corners
      her corners
   her corners
and calling them
      round

For sure I’d have heard
   if I knew my own sound

But it’s something that don’t come
   right up quite often
One fist up—pa-pa-pah—
Politely to cough in
   and signal enough is enough
   is enough to save face
But a fool won’t stay put in a circle of chalk
   so save it for someone
   who knows not to walk

And why chew slow on account of me?
It is not as tough as it oughta be.
What wind blows on a count of three?

No hope, no hope for the curious mind
Some note, some note of the furious kind
   will slip the ear (when least awake)
   when words are few (and words are few)
   and you could hear a needle take
   its time where the dull
   won’t make it through

And why say hello to someone
   that you already keep at your feet?
It is not as tough as it oughta be.

I’m gonna walk right
   where I came from
While you talk night
   'til the day comes
   to an empty bed

 

MAYBE WE’LL ROW

Tell me how many times
  they’ve called, and you’ve stared
  into the nothing pot
  where nothing ever seems to rot
  with talk of what had fallen there

But unhappy marbles, let’s be fair:
  your ups are garbled, and no such pie
  could call its humble home the sky
  and insist we met in passing
  when my fingers were too wide
But they don’t spread so far, and so
  you know you must have grown there
  from below

Where are we in the hourglass?
Where are we in the sand?
Busy churning while the hours pass
I’m learning of the jam
   in its vicious waist
   in the cinch it makes
   in the middle
We had time until we didn’t
Now it’s something that
   we’re much too big
   to chase—

—But maybe we’ll go
   one by one a ways
Maybe we’ll row
   single file awhile
And maybe I’ll know you
   one of those days
   on a southern shore
   of a sandy plain

Maybe we’ll go one by one aways
Maybe we’ll row single file awhile
And maybe I’ll know you
   one of those days
   on a southern shore of a sandy plain
   below the glass, while someone laughs

and cries:

“Unhappy marbles, let’s be fair:
   your ups are garbled, and no such pie
   could call its humble home the sky”