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I’m Not Supposed to Look at Reviews

People were saying such nice things about the new book that I kept popping in to Amazon to see what else they were saying.

Oops.

I’m not allowed to look at reviews. I’ll never learn to really ignore them, so Best Beloved keeps up with them, and shares the ones I need to see. No, I don’t need to see the negative feedback. It’s not helpful, not constructive, serves no purpose to me.

Perhaps the only 2-star review of any of my books, ever (though I did get a 1-star review once that still makes me chuckle.)

Ah, well. Note to self: don’t do that.


19 Questions

An old friend hasn’t been speaking to me and when I asked why, the answer was confusing. I asked again and it got more confusing and distressing. I finally suggested that maybe we weren’t good for each other and should move on to less complicated friendships and they said “Sounds good!” (Including the exclamation mark.)

I’ve accepted that it’s not always me, that I’m not necessarily a blundering oaf socially, but I’m sad today, about this friendship and one I’d wanted to write about this year which gets rolled into this one as part of the same bundle of hurt.

Lyrics

how do you know what someone wants?
what does it take to be loved?
what can you do to make them stay?

who gets to take? who needs to give?
why is it so? when does it change?
what can you do when they’ve gone away?

how can you see it coming on?
what do you do to see the truth?
who do you trust if not a friend?

why do we bother? what’s the point
when does it end? where do you go?
who do you turn to in the end?

and how do you know that’s true?
and what can you ever do
to stumble past the last miscue?
how do you move on from two
now they’re them and you’re you?
I ask cause I don’t have a clue


Here Before

It’s one of the 5 gloomy days of the year here in southern Arizona and that makes me gloomy. Coming home from airing up the tires in the van I was struck by the deceptively disconnected details in “All Around the World”, the last song on Paul Simon’s “Graceland.” These pictures came up on their own, images from a hard time in each of my lives which I combined into something that never happened, but it feels like it did.

Lyrics

Winding through a tiny sliver of West Virginia
It was late and we needed gas in the worst way
Between Ohio and Pennsylvania lost in the dark
We got in at 11, had to leave before the break of day

I’ve been here before and I got through
maybe because I didn’t know what else to do
it’s a shame
no one’s to blame
that’s how it’s always been for me and you

so sick I was hallucinating
tingling all over and sweaty, I was a mess
desperate for something, I still don’t know what
and I cried out for you, and then I fell asleep I guess

I’ve been here before and I got through
maybe because I didn’t know what else to do
it’s a shame
no one’s to blame
that’s how it’s always been for me and you

instead of asking me to leave you left me here
alone and empty, lying on the floor
and I’m lost in the dark and sick to death
but we both know I’ve been here before

I’ve been here before, I’ll get through
maybe because I don’t know what else to do
it’s a shame
no one’s to blame
that’s how it’ll always be for me and you


Rhymes with Gloom

Rumor has it Phoenix sees 360 days of sunshine a year. Anecdotal evidence suggests we could skip some of those during, say, June, but no, the few gloomy overcast days come in winter, no surprise.

Best Beloved and I both suffer from mild versions of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Grey days bog us down and make us cranky. Awareness is 51% of the battle, eh?

First time in months, we took a bike ride together this morning. Once around the block. It’s a small start, because we believe in the power of small wins. Persistent consistent effort, not grand gestures. She’s been sick, I’ve been sick, we’ve been pummeled no end the past 6 months, but it’s all working out, as it always does.

I’ve reached the point with this month’s songwriting that I’m filling gaps with experimental stuff, goofy lyrics, and songs I’ll never bother performing. Writing 28 songs in 28 days, I give myself a lot of slack. A lot.




The Ballad of Ed Tom Bell

Sheriff Ed Tom Bell in “No Country for Old Men” spends a lot of time talking about what’s wrong with the world, and making a lot of sense.

Please note: I’m apolitical. I see a lot wrong with the whole world, not just one country, and the ‘country’ McCarthy referred to in Bell’s monologues was the region he lived in, not a geopolitical entity. I’d hate for anyone to think I had a bone to pick with any particular person, place or thing. But if you read Cormac McCarthy, stuff like this is bound to leak back out eventually.

I intentionally sang it in too low a key to get the sound I wanted.

Continue reading “The Ballad of Ed Tom Bell”


Good Ol’ Manly Cry

(Copying some FAWM songs here so I have them all in one place.)

Guess you’ve been gone
Long enough
Cause I’m alright
Only two times that miss you
One’s day, the other’s night
Sunshine reminds me of your hair
In the dark, I almost think you’re there
Think it’s time I sat down and had me
A good old manly cry

Fixed you breakfast
Just this morning
Like I used to do
Perfect bacon and fried potatoes
Scrambled eggs for two
I must have left it there half the day
Then I got mad and threw it all away
Think it’s time I sat down and had me
A good old manly cry

Think it’s time I sat down and told myself
You’re really gone
Think it’s time I sat down and realized
That from now on
Won’t be cooking for two
But I’ll be wondering
What do I do?
Think it’s time I sat down and had me
A good old manly cry

Took a sick day Last week
The boss wondered what was wrong
Whatever it was I mumbled sounded like something
From a whiny country song
I spent
The whole day
Looking out the window at the dust the settled as you drove away
Think it’s time I sat down and had me
A good old manly cry

Think it’s time I sat down and told myself
You’re really gone
Think it’s time I sat down and realized
That from now on
Won’t be cooking for two
But I’ll be wondering
What do I do?
Think it’s time I sat down and had me
A good old manly cry

Guess you’ve been gone
Long enough
Cause I’m alright


A Little Step Before a Leap

The apartment was bigger than it looked in the photos online. Real estate must be cheaper in a small town than in the cities. I didn’t know. I’d never lived anywhere but one big city and apartments were even more expensive than renting a small house. It didn’t make any sense to me, but I guess if you’re willing to pay for the benefit of not having a lawn to mow, someone might as well take your money.

I also wasn’t used to having the super live offsite. Though she wasn’t the super, she was the apartment manager. Or owner. I should get that straight. She and her husband lived down the street in a nice little house by the lake.

“Right up the road if pipes burst or you lock yourself out,” Mrs. Wright had said. Mr. Wright was housebound so she had taken care of our business arrangements.

“Now, there’s lots of young men for neighbors, dear, but they’re polite and well-behaved or I wouldn’t have them. So you just make yourself at home.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Wright. I’m not worried about them.”

One eyebrow twitched, and she smiled.

“No, I supposed you’re not. I’m off, then.”

Maybe her intuition works better than mine. Maybe I was advertising more than I realized.

No young man was getting anywhere near me until my heart grew back in the hole left by the young man I’d just left forever.

This is an excerpt from next year’s romantic mystery Anacrusis.

Hole in His Chest

His habit was to pop out of bed the instant he awoke. Today it felt good to lie there, eyes closed, sun glowing through the window onto the bed.

bedroom-dark-light“Know what I want to do today?”

The room was silent.

She’s still sleeping, he thought. Lazybones.

He rolled over to put his arms around her, knowing she’d open one eye, give him the grumpy face, then snuggle into his chest.

Her side of the bed was empty.

He opened his eyes.

Properly awake now, he threw himself down on her pillow.

His wounded animal cries made no difference. He’d done this every morning since he’d been able to sleep again, and it made no difference.

She was still dead.


You and Yew

yewI’d heard the construction equipment even before I trudged across the lawn to where my car was parked in the driveway because the garage was too full of stuff.

A backhoe was ripping the 10-year-old foot-tall yew hedge out by the roots.

When I could move again I shut my mouth and marched to the sidewalk. I raised my voice over the sound of the backhoe. In my current emotional state it was not difficult.

“WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MY HEDGE?”

The guy on the backhoe leaned back, eyes wide. The front bucket paused with the third or fourth yew plant dangling by its roots from one of the teeth.

“Um, we’re widening the curb cuts. You got a letter.” He still didn’t move.

“DID THE LETTER SAY YOU WERE GOING TO DESTROY MY HEDGE?”

He shut the machine down, but he was still leaning back, still eyes wide. The wide eyes flicked to his right, my left, and his shoulders slumped down from “high alert” to “someone else’s problem” status.

“Can I help you?” Important looking man in suit approaches. Well, not suit, now that I look, but he’s management, not labor.

I’ve started breathing again, so there’s no more screaming.

“This hedge takes decades to grow. These little twelve-inch plants have been here since the house was built 10 years ago. What’s going on?”

“Everyone got a letter, sir. Widening the curb cuts for handicapped access. Federal law.”

“Yes. Letter. Did the letter say ‘move your plants or we’ll tear them out with a backhoe’?”

Blank stares. Stare. Management. Labor had its eyes down, inspecting the instrument panel on the silent backhoe.

Management, to Labor #2 at the next house over: “Run to Home Depot and get some 5-gallon buckets for this gentleman’s plants.” Then to me: “I’m very sorry about your plants. We’ll get them planted in some potting soil and put them wherever you like so they can be planted again when the work is done.”

He wasn’t quite fidgeting, just shifting his weight slightly from foot to foot. Hoping for peace. Ready for a fight.

I was sick of fighting.

“Okay. Sorry. Thanks.”

He may have answered, I don’t know. My ears were ringing as I trudged back across the lawn to where my car was parked in the driveway instead of the garage.

When I moved out months later, the yew plants were still in buckets in the back yard.

Last time I saw the buckets, just before she filed for divorce, the plants were all dead.


All My Fault

when you wake up in the morning do you think of me
do you ever wish that you could have what used to be
It’s a little more than idle curiosity
Did you ever open up your eyes wide enough to see?

chorus
I worry about you almost every day
I wonder if you wonder why I went away
And whether you could hear the things that I have to say
but it was probably all my fault anyway

Do you talk to all the people that we used to know?
or are you MIA just like a UFO?
if this line of question doesn’t seem apropos
remember I’m the guy who used to love you so

chorus
I worry about you almost every day
I wonder if you wonder why I went away
And whether you could hear the things that I have to say
but it was probably all my fault anyway

you always thought that we could never get along
and I know it’s not my place to say I think you’re wrong
and now it’s far too late because it’s been so long
so maybe we’ll pretend that this is just another song

chorus
I worry about you almost every day
I wonder if you wonder why I went away
And whether you could hear the things that I have to say
but it was probably all my fault anyway


Not True Enough

chorus
you asked me if I loved you
I wasn’t lying when I said yes
the way my hands are shaking as I write this letter now
it wasn’t quite true enough I guess

verse 1
I came in from the wilderness to live with you in town
you craved that faster life and brighter lights
your hand slipped out of mine when you were dancing
wasn’t long before I slipped out of your nights

chorus
you asked me if I loved you
I wasn’t lying when I said yes
the way my hands are shaking as I write this letter now
it wasn’t quite true enough I guess

verse 2
I was rough and it got rougher
the more I tried the worse it got
my head and hands and heart could only do so much
a man can’t be what he’s not

chorus
you asked me if I loved you
I wasn’t lying when I said yes
the way my hands are shaking as I write this letter now
it wasn’t quite true enough I guess

bridge
love is not love if all it wants to do
is change a man ’cause he ain’t good enough
it shouldn’t bring a tempest down as Billy Bard would say
and block out all the stars a sailor wants to see above

verse 3
there’s a cabin out up on the mountain
built by a man who thought he was in love
I’ll go there and I’ll try to find the peace I used to know
’cause whatever I feel now just ain’t enough

chorus
you asked me if I loved you
I wasn’t lying when I said yes
the way my hands are shaking as I write this letter now
it wasn’t quite true enough I guess

performance notes
banjo
D G A
bridge Em