No man has opened himself up
to utter destruction
like the man with no friends.

He nods while voices in the bar
oil the machinery of enjoyment.
He is always on the wrong side of fun.

The voices all around are heavy
with the two American verbs: Put and Got.

“I got a woman and I put it in her,”
brag the men.
“I put out and got what I wanted,”
brag the women.

And the voices caroming off the walls
will always be more important
than the continents
of things he does not say.

He laughs when he speaks
to let you know he fears you.
It’s an old servants’ trick.

To the friendless old man
with pomaded hair,
we are all members of usurping tribes.
He gestures to the laughing crowd
and says:

“I always forget
which of us is Scylla
and which is Charybdis.
Just watch out.”

One Eye on Nothing at All

It all turned out
just like your fears
The flags at half-mast
for a thousand years

And looking out
through all that gloom
I tried to tell the truth
under a nom de plume

That just got me in a brawl
and they shipped me off to Montreal
Now I got one eye on a pretty girl
and one eye on nothing at all

The hammers rang
Through the sturm and drang
Around dinner, the city was done
and this new mess just began

I got a job, you got a skirt
It took awhile for us to convert
Then awhile to get past the hurt
of all those office buildings
always on the alert

Some said it was awful tall
Some said it’s bound to fall
And I got one eye on a pretty girl
and one eye on nothing at all

Harney Basin

I’m goin down
to the Harney Basin
where there’s nothing
around for miles
Gonna drive like hell
to the one motel
and lie down on the bathroom tiles

The fault was all mine
but I’m doin fine
And thanks so much for askin
I only counted to nine
then I crossed the line
Now I live like an Alaskan

I know there’s no erasin
all the stuff I shoved her face in—
That there’s nothing like what I’m chasin
down here in the Harney Basin

I’ll give it a day
I’ll give it away
I’ll buy me something
And this time I’ll pay
She can do as she pleases
bith her takeout Chinese
But one day she’ll want me to stay

Can’t stand the streets, and I hate the trees
Pecked by the birds, stung by the bees
Got the map between my knees

And I know there’s no erasin
All the stuff they shoved my face in—
That there’s nothing like what I’m chasin
down here in the Harney Basin

Smoke em if you got em
I think I see the bottom
I’m gonna count to ten
I died once, I can do it again

Cards We’re Dealt

She said take the cards
you’re dealt
Then she unbuckled
my bible belt

The sun still sets in the west
and she’s still dressed
like she shouldn’t leave the house,
my little wooly mouse

She talked of love
I tried to electioneer it
She said I played too rough
But I didn’t want to hear it

I wasn’t sure of a thing
by the time I hit the spring
with a wing in a sling
I’m sorry about the ring
I didn’t give her
I just never thought
I’d outlive her

There’s a word
for how it felt
When she unbuckled
my bible belt

She played her part
and broke my heart
just threw the fucker away
But my heart is better this way

She was folding laundry
I was staring at the wall
The hour, it meant everything
But it passed like nothing at all

She gave me a look
that would raise a welt
Then she unbuckled
my bible belt