Your Noisy Little Skull

September 30, 2017

YOU’RE JUST A SORE LOSER
I’VE SEEN YOUR KIND BEFORE
EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU
IS ROTTEN TO THE CORE

You don’t even know me
I’m a person, not a kind
My existence can’t be flattened
To fit inside your mind

YOU’RE JUST A COMPLAINER
LIKE A MILLION OTHER FOOLS
BUGGER OFF CHILDREN
AND LET THE GROWNUPS RULE

The Serious grownups
With your guns and bombs and jail
Rewarding one another
Every time you fail

YOU STUPID LITTLE PUNK
YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND
WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE QUIET
AND TAKE IT LIKE A MAN?

Shouting out for silence
Won’t still your noisy skull
Defining others downward
Will never make you whole

by Richard W. Bray

Sloppy Jay

September 23, 2017

In disheveled disarray
Careless messy Sloppy Jay
Putters on his merry way

He leaves a trail of pickles and moss
And stones and sticks and taco sauce
A slapdash chain of dregs and dross

Cruel teachers and angry aunts
Sling a thousand bitter taunts
For Jay’s apparent nonchalance

Inside this squall of anarchy
Lurks a soul enchanted and free
Discard your spite and you could see

by Richard W. Bray

Jesus in Gym Shorts

September 16, 2017

the Secret sits in the middle and knows
Robert Frost, Secret Sits

I headed for the hills
I needed introspection
To muffle my mind
And calibrate direction

Jesus in gym shorts
Smiled and waved “hi”
He was happy and barefoot
As he jogged on by

Was He an apparition
Was he a regular guy?
I searched for a sign
And looked to the sky

I caught up with the jogger
He gave me his advice:
“Always eat your vegetables
And try and act nice”

I could ask a thousand questions
Things that can’t be known
We live a wild dance
But the Secret sits alone

By Richard W. Bray

the warmth of you

September 9, 2017

the warmth of you
melts away the hurt
love like a river
washing out the dirt

the song of you
pulses through my mind
your tender melody
compassionate and kind

the joy of you
sparkles like a star
I wish I could absorb
everything you are

by Richard W. Bray

Clichés Don’t Make the World Go Round, but They Can Make Songs Better

September 4, 2017

Ira Gershwin

The Word Mavens Are Wrong

Style guides and writing teachers say we should avoid clichés like the plague. They’re bad, hackneyed, and trite. They say clichés are crutches, used by writers who are too lazy and stupid to think up new ways to say things.

But the experts wrong. Clichés have all sorts of wonderful uses.

Assisting Thought by Evoking a Visual Image

Many clichés are metaphors. According to George Orwell, an effective metaphor “assists thought by evoking a visual image.”

The anti-cliché crowd argues that no matter how strong or evocative a clichéd metaphor might be, its power dwindles with repeated use. But that ain’t necessarily so.

If you say, “Mary is burning the candle at both ends,”  a vivid picture comes to my mind which highlights the possible pitfalls of Mary’s behavior. This is an example of an outstanding metaphor that doesn’t diminish in fortitude no matter how many times you hear it.

The phrase “you’re just putting a band-aid on that problem” is another clichéd metaphor which remains evocative and effective despite repeated use.

These two clichéd metaphors are still effective because, even if we no longer light our houses with candles, candles and bandages are still part of our shared consciousness.

Metaphors—Dead, Alive, and Otherwise

But metaphorical clichés will lose vigor as words go out of fashion.  For example, the expression “hoisted by his own petard” packed a much greater rhetorical punch in an age when people commonly referred to bombs as petards.

Sometimes linguists employ the term “dead metaphor” to describe phrases like “hoisted by his own petard.” They reason that metaphors only remain “alive” as long as we can picture them in our mind’s eye.

But what if I tell you that Larry, who’s a very casual sports fan, just jumped on the Dodgers’ bandwagon? Even if you don’t know that there was a time when politicians actually hired wagons full of musicians to attract voters, it’s still easy to see what this expression means. So, is the bandwagon metaphor, alive, dead or somewhere in between?

Not All Clichés Are Created Equal

Not all clichés are created equal. And the better ones deserve respect.

Of course, many clichéd metaphors are duds. And a bad cliché is about as effective as a screen door on a submarine.

I tell students that the best way to judge the potency of a metaphor is to visualize it. For example, try to visualize yourself “throwing some shade on someone.”

The cliché “throwing shade on someone” means to deprecate a person. It’s a lousy metaphor and it sets my blood to boiling every time I hear it.

On the other hand, when Victor says, “Yo, man. I’d loved to hang out with you guys all day, but I gotta bounce,” he’s employing a marvelously robust metaphor. It tells me that Victor is so active he’s downright kinetic.

Ira Gershwin Hearts Clichés

As Ira Gershwin explains in his book Lyrics on Several Occasions, “The literary cliché is an integral part of lyric-writing.”

Sometimes lyricists cleverly rework a familiar cliché into a song. Like when Smokey Robinson says “I’m a choosy beggar, and you’re my choice.” Or when the Temptations sing “Papa was a rolling stone/Wherever he laid his hat was his home.” Or when Paul McCartney asks: “Would you walk away from a fool and his money?” Or when the Who’s Rodger Daltry laments, “I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth.” Or when Ian Hunter complains that love has left him feeling “Once Bitten, Twice shy.”

Gershwin notes that clichés are an essential part of the songwriter’s toolkit because:

The phrase that is trite and worn-out when appearing in print usually becomes, when heard fitted to the appropriate musical turn, revitalized, and seems somehow to revert to its original provocativeness.

Putting Clichés to Good Use

Here are some examples of songwriters putting clichés to good use:

Irving BerlinI’m Putting all my Eggs in One Basket

Phil CollinsAgainst All Odd

Gene AutryBack in the Saddle

Los Hermanos GershwinBidin’ my Time

Arthur HamiltonCry Me a River

Waldo HolmesDon’t Rock the Boat

Cole PorterI Get a Kick Out of You

Sammy CahnHigh Hopes

Norman Whitfield and Barrett StrongHeard it Through the Grapevine

Neil DiamondLove On the Rocks— (Nice pun, Neil)

Robbie RobertsonThe Weight (Take a Load off, Annie)

Stevie WonderSigned, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours

Al Hoffman and Dick ManningIt Takes Two to Tango

Larry Blackmon and Tomi JenkinsWord Up

Aaron Schroeder and Wally GoldIt’s Now or Never (Music by Eduardo di Capua)

by Richard W. Bray

 

resentment anger masochism

August 26, 2017



tie yourself up in a not
think about what people do
and crave what people got

ignite your blood like gasoline
turn the damage inside out
explode like a machine

pull your heart out through your gut
slash and maim and trash and burn
and smash and maul and cut

by Richard W. Bray

Making bean tacos for the ones we love

August 19, 2017

Every meal is sacred
A gift from above
Making bean tacos
For the ones we love

If there isn’t enough
We can always make some more
For friends and neighbors
Who knock on the door

Food is existence
And cooking is art
When you share a meal
You’re sharing your heart

We laugh and we love
We comfort and console
In every household
The kitchen is the soul

by Richard W. Bray

Pull Away from the Screen

August 12, 2017

Pull away from the screen
Put on your ramblin’ shoes
Get yourself outside
Or you’re gonna blow a fuse

Say hello to your body
Run and jump around
Try and race your shadow
To the other end of town

Take a walk in the forest
And hug the nearest tree
If you listen it will tell you
How to set your spirit free

The world is interactive
And the graphics are sublime
Open up your senses
And hear the cosmos chime

by Richard W. Bray

if you ever got a problem

August 5, 2017

if you ever got a problem
or if you’re feeling down
you only gotta tell me
I’ll come riding into town

when walls are collapsing
and you can’t escape your trouble
I’ll be there in a minute
to protect you from the rubble

when life is an inferno
and things are looking dire
you’ll see me rushing in
to pull you from the fire

I’ll deliver you from danger
I’ll rescue you from strife
I’ll be your rope ladder
I’ll be your jaws of life

by Richard W. Bray

Poisoned with Protection

July 29, 2017

They had the best selection,
They were poisoned with protection

Neil Young,
Thrasher

Safe here in our little bubble
New ideas are too much trouble

We are good and we are true
There’s nothing we can learn from you

We don’t have to hear you speak
Tranquility is what we seek

Our habitat was purified
We weren’t allowed to play outside

Our tender souls demand protection
We can’t survive a mild infection

by Richard W. Bray