How’d you know the song in my heart?

October 11, 2020

How’d you make the world
Collapse and disappear?
How’d you make your voice
The only thing I hear?

How’d you take my troubles
And tear them all apart?
How’d you know the song
In my heart?

How’d you know the song
In my heart?

How’d you patch me up
And nurse me back to health?
How’d you create a world
Where time was someplace else?

How’d you erase the past
And make a whole new start?
How’d you know the song
In my heart?

How’d you know the song
In my heart?

by Richard W. Bray

booby-trapped

October 7, 2020

broken lives
and broken hearts and
foolish empty pledges

I’m rugged and I’m ragged
and sharp around
the edges

Don’t get too close
I’m booby-trapped
Broke from eating
Too much crap
There’s so much shit
When I explode
It’s gonna be
The motherload

all the lies
you swallow, they
never get digested

every segment
of your soul
will become infested

Don’t get too close
I’m booby-trapped
Broke from eating
Too much crap
There’s so much shit
When I explode
It’s gonna be
The motherload

by Richard W. Bray

love madness

September 15, 2020

all day long
I think of you
subsisting on
your residue

too good to be true
too good to be true
too good to be true

warmth and style
and royal blue
all wrapped up
inside of you

too good to be true
too good to be true
too good to be true

your hair, your smile
your ballyhoo
I would pay
to be your shoe

too good to be true
too good to be true
too good to be true

sophistication
through and through
you’ll never play
the ingénue

too good to be true
too good to be true
too good to be true

I live for love
I never knew
the psycho ward
is overdue

too good to be true
too good to be true
too good to be true

by Richard W. Bray

Lunch Among the Ruins

September 11, 2020

O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
   Earth’s returns
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!

Robert Browning, Love Among the Ruins

In a land once ruled by thieves
We walk beneath the trees
Among the fallen leaves

Paths once paved with gravel
Too overgrown for travel
Reveal a world unraveled

Betrayal winks and nods
An empire built of fraud
Amused indifferent gods

Right before their eyes
A world of endless lies
Erupts in bloody skies

A picnic on the glen
With a special friend
Another season ends

by Richard W. Bray

The Legend of Looney Tick

September 2, 2020

I got a friend named Looney Tick
He chewed all day and ate a brick
Washed it down with motor oil
He drinks it fresh before it spoils

I don’t believe in superstition
Minerals are good nutrition

I got a friend named Looney Tick
You never know what clothes he’ll pick
He’s decked out in all his splendor
Cargo shorts and red suspenders

I’m a walking fashion plate
How them haters love to hate

I got a friend named Looney Tick
Sanity is not his schtick
He cleans his table with a mop
He stole a car and called the cops

I don’t need no evidence
I’ll just use my common sense

I had a friend named Looney Tick
He fought a grizzly with a stick
His daddy told him that ain’t wise
But he believed his lying eyes

That bear is big but I’m real quick
Never mess with Looney Tick

That bear is big but I’m real quick…

The last we heard from Looney Tick

by Richard W. Bray

This Mortal Coil

August 28, 2020

Adam and Eve by Edvard Munch

In Love Medicine, a novel by Louise Erdrich, young Albertine Johnson is tasked with protecting the pies by her grandmother, who leaves a family gathering before it descends into drunken mayhem:

“They can eat!” Grandma yelled once more. “But save them pies!”

During the melee that ensues, Albertine heroically manages to prevent her cousin King from drowning his wife Lynette in the sink. But she can’t save the pies:

All the pies were smashed. Torn open. Black juice bleeding through the crusts. Bits of jagged shells were stuck to the wall and some were turned completely upside down. Chunks of rhubarb were scraped across the floor. Merengue dripped from the towels.

Later when she wakes up, Albertine does what she can for the pies:

I spooned the fillings back into the crusts, married the slabs of dough, smoothed over the edges of crusts with a wetted finger, fit crimps to crimps and even fluff to fluff on top of berries or pudding. I worked carefully for over an hour. But once they smash there is no way to put them right.

With the possible exception of Ella Fitzgerald singing Blue Skies, there’s no perfection in this world. We’re all broken in some way, just like those pies.

Christians tell us we’re living in a fallen world as punishment for the sins of Adam and Eve. I don’t believe this, but it’s a useful metaphor for the human condition.

It’s important to accept Existence on its own terms. Everything in this world is flawed. There’s a lot you can do to make life better for yourself and others, but you can’t fix the world; you can’t fix your friends; you can’t even fix yourself.

Like Albertine Johnson, you can try to make things better. If you try really hard, you might be as heroic as Albertine — you might even make the world a little bit more beautiful. Making the world a little bit more beautiful is a monumental achievement.

The Past Is Not the Future

How do we make the world a little bit better when human beings are so full of greed, stupidity, pettiness and cruelty? Well, it ain’t easy. But trying is all we have.

For example, we can learn from the past, but don’t get stuck there.

Sheryl Crow was right: Every day is a winding road, a new opportunity to try to do better.

The past is not the future; don’t make it a prison.

As T.S. Eliot reminds us:

The knowledge imposes a pattern, and falsifies,
For the pattern is new in every moment
And every moment is a new and shocking
Valuation of all we have been.

East Coker

You’ll never fix the world, but there are some helpful strategies for facing this mortal coil with dignity. You can start by taking a deep breath and letting it out really slow.

by Richard W. Bray

Birds Gotta Swim

August 23, 2020

Even a theory requires some facts, Captain
Commander Spock

Fish gotta swim
Birds gotta fly
A penguin is a fish
There’s an ostrich in the sky

The sky is blue
Cuz it’s jealous of the sea
Doggie says bark
Cuz he’s looking for a tree

Zebra, bongo, tiger
Bumblebee and marlin
Grew some pretty stripes
To dazzle their darlin’

They say a clock’s wise
And time marches on
But as soon as time happens
It’s already gone

The cow never jumped
Higher than the moon
Cows don’t jump at all—
It was a kangaroo

Sometimes I wonder
What’s it all about?
But things are pretty simple
When you figure ‘em out

by Richard W.  Bray

like it or not

August 15, 2020

Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!

Langston Hughes, Theme for English B

8 billion bodies
all collected
life is never
what’s expected
tell yourself
you’re not affected
but everything
is all connected

green and blue
it’s all we got
this lovely living
spinning spot
all condemned to
live the thought—
stuck together
like it or not

stuck together
like it or not

stuck together
like it or not

by Richard W. Bray

the bend in the river where the cottonwoods grow

August 2, 2020

the city’s gonna kill me
if I don’t let it go
time to find a valley
where the living is slow

maples in September
mountains in the snow
the bend in the river
where the cottonwoods grow

deliver me from humbug
the never-ending show
time for some authentic
dirt beneath my toes

maples in September
mountains in the snow
the bend in the river
where the cottonwoods grow

time to grab my spirit
and hop upon a crow
that’s the only tonic
for my weary old soul

maples in September
mountains in the snow
the bend in the river
where the cottonwoods grow

by Richard W. Bray

thank you for letting me love you

July 18, 2020

thank you
for letting me
love you

I had a pocket
full of empty
when you picked me
and dreamt me
into another world
you’re a special
kind of girl

thank you
for letting me
love you

I was crying out
for cover
for a friend, a muse
a lover
you’re my salvador
you were everything
and more

thank you
for letting me
love you

there’s no way
to repay
and now you’ve
gone away
everything I ever do
only happens
cuz of you

by Richard W. Bray