The Dead Swim
1999

Far and Away

It seems that light has broken
Through the dismal grey
From Hell’s illuminated bastion
I survey
The silent sea of sadness
Where I’m cast away
My writer’s pen to pilgrim
When I’d sooner stay…
Far and away
Far and away

Let history hide my horrors
Though these seas impart
The secret tremors of my head
And of my heart
Why focus on the subtle passion
I betray?
If I’m to moor in madness,
'tis God’s wicked play…
Far and away
Far and away

In philosophic pondering
You still have your charts upon the shelf
Alas, in all my wanderings
They have only led me to myself
Far and away
Far and away

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet
As on Dante’s journey home
In breach with Melville’s Moby
One might find their own
The great white vortex tells me
"look the other way"
My head is willing
But my heart cannot obey…
Far and away
Far and away

 

The Hurt

At the beginning of the hurt
There was an awkward little ache
I didn't notice it at first
I didn’t know my heart could break
Into such small pieces
Little bits of no matter
Puzzled by your carelessness

When you were off and on your way
With your enamored expletive
Love was an easy word to say
But it was awfully hard to give
And at the soul slaughter
Wading in the dark water
I went down beyond your depth
With the hurt
The hurt

You grabbed at every oyster
And disgorged the pearl
So you could have your little corner of the world

Out of a salty sea of tears
Promises in their foamy froth
May have been broken through the years
Cutting their circulation off
And on as life passes
There behind your dark glasses
Every killing day begins
With the hurt
The hurt

 

Pulling Margaret from the Chowder

The pen is mightier for ink
Why should I feel when I can think?
Why should I swim when I can sink myself
Miss Margaret Beth?

The sea is not an angel’s breast
In her discomforting caress
The heart is always in distress
Or in the dulls of death

When all the gods abandon ship
I’ve got this soaking manuscript
I’d just as soon hold on to it
As hold my fucking breath

The lads are giving up their seat
Their shoes are slipping off their feet
Their bloated bellies underneath
Are turning up on shore
And I look under every sheet
With a faint know-it-all conceit
That each decrepit face I meet
I’ve somehow met before

I’ve read the tea leaves on the toast
The world will compensate my ghost
The modern misanthropic boast
Is not afraid to soar

As all my angels
Are floating in the outer
Their arms outstretch
Pulling Margaret from the chowder

The pen is mightier for ink
Why should I think when I can drink?
Why should I smell when I can stink
The merry-round go by
The mind betrays the open book
The heart is so afraid to look
The hurting hand is not a hook
It is the private I

I’ve read the tea leaves on the toast
The waves are crashing on the coast
The netherworld is ever close
And not an eye is dry

As all my angels
Are floating in the outer
Their arms outstretch
Pulling Margaret from the chowder

 

 

James, Under the Blue Sky

James, something has to change
Suddenly the strangest thought occurs
What if we are mad,
The sweeter side of sad,
And all we have is what
Our heart endures?

James, in confluence we feel
The mind’s uneven keel
Whose villainy appeals to us because
We stumble down the stairs,
Untidy our affairs,
And think that no one cares
And no one does

Another cloud
Moves overhead
And we are all alone out there
Out there
James, under the blue sky

James, a jack inside the box
Of our unorthodox
Mythology of clocks--is not on time
When we were so depressed,
They took what we possessed
Our dignity, the rest, well never mind

Another cloud
Moves overhead
And we are all alone out there
Out there
James, under the blue sky

James, something has to change
We cannot estrange hope
From our lives
Where symmetries insist
We can’t go on like this
The old hypothesis must be
Revised

Another cloud
Moves overhead
And we are all alone out there
Out there
James, under the blue sky

 

Bloodbath

You woke this morning driven
To press the dirty linen
Before the unforgiving mouth
Was open
You splashed a bit of tonic
But it became sardonic
Wish you were catatonic

When outspoken
Skin is broken

I’m in a bloodbath
Splashin’ in a bloodbath
I wanna cry/laugh
Truth is an abrasive cleanser

The voice of Greta garbles
When counting all her marbles
The foil antenna warbles
On the porcelain
Sometimes the worst deception
Can get the best reception
At least that’s my perception
Drawn and quartered
Kindly slaughtered

Chorus

 

Glass I

I let a glass eye go to pieces
A bit of blue, you were bewitched
The sort of trance a glance releases
Is never-more, but I can’t tell you which

When every act had been symbolic
Of sorrow’s punctuated breath
The face of God was melancholic
And I sat down to drink myself to death

Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh, oh yeah
Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh, oh yeah
Put a glass eye on the table,
And I see right through myself

I let my heart convert to metric
I did my time, my debt was paid
With all the furniture electric
And all the fleshy fabric retrograde

And then at night I was abetted
By the potassium bromide
Till I was privately indebted
To every poison poured at my bedside

Oh yeah…

And when I heard that God was lonely
He had His Hell as well as me
I fell in love, but love was only
Another tumble through transparency

Where some may drink their grieving season
And some the blood at every mass
I only drink for one good reason
To reach the very bottom of the glass

Oh yeah…
Put a glass eye on the table,
And I see right through my…

 

 

Atlas

Put your finger on my pulse
Where the sea is turning blue
We'll converge, and then convulse
Anxiously, like lovers do

In the Rip Van Wintertime
When the dead have whiter bones
We will in good faith decline
Undertows with overtones

'Round and 'round myself unsteady
Where were you when things got heavy?
Atlas, Atlas
Balancing the burden I deserve?

From a napping cat demise
To a most engaging grief
I will open up my eyes
Just to watch myself asleep

'Round and 'round myself unsteady...

My past is out to get me
My conscience will upset me
My pirates pinch the commonwealth
While I'm so 1/4 encumbered
My fractions are out numbered
And I have turned against myself

Put your finger on my pulse
On my roguish, ravaged phantom
We'll divide the spoils of course
Prefaced by a proper tantrum

And if all love's lost as well
We will sail in expectation
For a heart's more perfect Hell
Annexed by annihilation

'Round and 'round myself unsteady...

 

In the Wide, Wide Open

Percy, Percy swallowed by the sea
In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open now
Mercy, mercy God has stranded me
In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open now

Why come to faith only to flounder
In a lifeboat?
Why take a beating when your heart
Is double crossed?
The fight is always lost
The fight is always lost

Anguish, anguish must have followed us
In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open now
Languish, languish perfect cumulus
In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open now

Why drag our verses through
A dead imagination?
Assault a passion
In the blushes of betrayal
Where writers always fail
Where writers always fail

Percy, Percy swallowed by the sea
In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open now
Mercy, mercy for human frailty
In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open now

In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open
In the wide, wide open now

 

The Turning of the Tide

The sun is setting itself upon the sea
I’m only pouring myself a cup of tea
The summer cottages
The limp appendages
Of this aching earth
Can hardly hold me when I hurt

It’s been a cold month alone all by myself
A brief recuperative stay, for my health
The mad inverted fist
The tremors that persist
When will they subside?
I want to turn my skin inside

Ah
Letting go this long night of pride
Antiquated
Ah
Dear deflated God help me ride
The turning of the tide

It’s nature’s folly of form, and pedigree
The moon immersed in a light and dark ennui
Beyond the valances
Are my imbalances
Staggering, and strange
When I want desperately to change

Ah
Letting go this long night of pride
Antiquated
Ah
Dear deflated God help me ride
The turning of the tide
The turning of the tide
The turning of the tide

 

Insult to Injury

Slumped in a chair
In the devil’s mohair
With a drink here and there
To discourage despair
If it came to me

Cut into bits
At the end of my wits
While the typewriter sits
Through my odd little fits
Of anxiety--this indignity
Loves me
Loves me
Loves me
Adding insult to injury

Waxes amass
On the candlestick brass
When I crawl across glass
Just to kiss the half-ass of
Sincerity

Darkness prevails
When the artist unveils
All the sordid betrayals
And the sacred heart ails
In its cavity--this depravity
Loves me
Loves me
Loves me
Adding insult to injury

To conjoin the three R’s I confess
What is rendered isn’t pretty
I recount, I revise, I reject
And I wallow in self pity

Shall I persist
To abate the abyss
Or will I with my fist
Strike, I order to test
My tenacity

Here is your fool
In her puddle of drool
Always mercifully cruel
To the last vestibule of
Her sanity--fuck inanity
Loves me
Loves me
Loves me
Adding insult to injury

Head Above Water

In the darkest hour of healing
When my knees give out
And all pretenses go
I’m afraid of what I’m feeling
And I’m gasping for the only
Death I know ‘cause

Faith just let me down
Hope just let me down
You just let me down

Though you hold me sensitively
You are not my darling
Are you daddy-o?
But I hope you will forgive me
At this moment I have nowhere
Else to go ‘cause

Temperance let me down
Prudence let me down
You just let me down

And keeping my head above water now
May be the hardest thing I do
Keeping my head above water now
When I have to swallow something new

When your tender mercy kicks me
And wonders why I don't come up for air
Is there nothing that can fix me
Am I at the point where I don't even care?

'Cause
Mercy let me down
Justice let me down
You just let me down

And keeping my head above water now
May be the hardest thing I do
Keeping my head above water now
When I have to swallow something new

But I’ll go on without you
I’ll go on without you
I’ll go on without you