Saturday, January 18, 2020

Little Green

Where would I put you?
Where could you go?

The crib doesn’t fit in the living room
Unless I throw out my father’s chair

I don’t have a car
I don’t have a nickel

The fridge is basically just
Sitting there

Who would watch you
While I wait tables
At the cocktail bar?

Who would watch you
When I sleep
All day?

How much could I change
Just because I needed to?

Does change just happen

Is that the way it works?

Nobody ever told me
How it works

Would he come back
To help me?

Would you show us
How it’s done?

What kind of school
Would I send you to?

What if you got sick?
What if you weren’t well?
What if you weren’t
The most self-sufficient kid
That was ever born
To someone?

And who would they send you to?

What would your chances be?

I know what your life
Would look like here
But here’s not much
And there’s only one drawer
With any room in it

The shower doesn’t work
The doors don’t lock properly
The window to the fire escape
Doesn’t open all the way

Who would let me keep you?
If someone had the say

Who would look at
All of this
And tell me
You could stay?

I think in terms of music
It’s all I’ve ever done

The music I could make with you
It’s much too quiet
Much too soft

A baby makes noise
A baby asserts herself
A baby doesn’t care
How much gets done

Or if you want to sleep all day
Or why the shower doesn’t work
Or what excuse her father has
For living a thousand miles away

You’re better off
Rolling the dice

The problem is
You don’t know that yet

So I have to roll for you
And then you get to find out
If I’m wrong

If I had
Two more years

I bet I’d let you stay

Two more years
And this all could be
A mansion
Or a penthouse
Or a farmhouse
In the country

But you don’t have
Two years

Neither of us do

I’m going to give
My mother’s name
To you

And if they let you keep it
Then you’ll have a part of me

And if they don’t
I guess it means
That lost is how
It’s meant to be

It only seems tragic right now
Because the leaves
Are off the trees

But when we’re back
To spring

Spring’s when things
Make sense

I tell myself
I’ll let go you and know why
In the spring

Because where would I put you?

Where could I put you?

I wish I had the room

I wish I had
The biggest room
That anyone’s
Ever seen

And if I had that room
I’d paint it


Where the Candles Never Burn

He made me live in a dark house
With all these candles
We weren’t allowed to light

I could come and go
As I saw fit

Nobody was trapping me
Nobody was saying ‘Don’t’

Several times a year
I would walk to my cousin Jane’s house
And back again
And he wouldn’t say a word

But while we were at home
There was no light

I used to tease him
About being a creature of cruel intent
And he would take the jokes lovingly

He was not a bad man
Nor angry
Nor harmful

Never would a violent expression
Cross his face

But he had some aversion
To the daytime
And he admitted that it worried him
Because he knew how unwell it is
For a man--or anyone, really
To spend so much time
Closed off and shut away
From the providing sun

One day he got cross
With himself, not with me
And he said ‘We shall go out today’
And I felt glad
I felt very glad
Because I thought it would be
A turning point for us

But once outside
He got a tremendous chill
And a coughing spasm struck him
And we had to bring him back in at once
The servants and I
Then wait for a doctor
Who diagnosed him as having
A rather mysterious illness
That seemed to mostly subside
Once he was back in his bed
With dark cloth hung
Over all the windows

Not given to superstition
I sought out a reason
For my husband’s troubles

My father was a man of science
And didn’t stand for talk of anything
That wasn’t pragmatic or tangible

Even speaking of morality
Would send him into a fit
And my sisters and I were not permitted
To go to church
Or giggle frightfully
At scary stories late at night
Under our covers

We were taught to believe in only
What could be seen
And touched

My husband’s pallor was not pale
His teeth were not sharp
And a cross hung directly over his bed
With no effect at all
On his demeanor

There was no bad in him
I can assure you of that

But the daylight
Any kind of light, really
It did--


Even the most tempestuous
Of villains
Has no objection
To the light of a candle
And yet--

Yet even those
We could not burn

We, those of us in that house,
Myself and the servants
And eventually
The children

Learned to navigate our way
Through the darkness

Even when my husband
Was tucked away in his room
With the doors closed
He could tell if a single flame
Was lit anywhere
Within the house

The screams he would pour forth
Would shake the walls
And we would all go hunting
For whatever crack had let in
A ribbon of sunshine

We got very good
At finding the light
Only to extinguish it

Throughout all this
I loved him

Oh, I loved him
Very much

And so I learned
To live without

Which is how I learned
You can live without
Just about


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Let's Sink This Ship Again

     (A Hollywood office.)

JEFF:  He's living under the sea!

JANE:  Like a mermaid?

JEFF:  Merman.

JESS:  We're going in that direction?

JEFF:  What other direction do we have?

JESS:  Rose's life after the Titanic.  She falls in love again.  A second chance.

JEFF:  Then how do we get Leo in the movie?

JANE:  Do we NEED Leo in the movie?  We'd still have Kate.

JEFF:  We can't do a Titanic reboot without Leo.

JESS:  Maybe he's a ghost.  Maybe she has to choose between the ghost and her husband.

JANE:  Who would choose a ghost over a living person?

JESS:  That depends.  Does the living person look like Leo?

JEFF:  A young Leo.

JESS:  He's not that young anymore.

JEFF:  We'll use the CGI.

JANE:  Depending on when the story starts, we might not have to.  We just start the story however many years it's been since Titanic.

JESS:  Twenty-three years.

JANE:  That can't be right.

JEFF and JESS:  It is.

JANE:  Jesus, I'm old.

JEFF:  I feel like--hear me out--I feel like this whole 'Maybe he's a ghost thing' is a little far-fetched.

JESS:  Jeff, you wanted to have him be a mermaid.

JEFF:  Man.

JESS:  He can't just turn into a fish-person.

JEFF:  You want to have him turn into a ghost.

JESS:  That's what happens when you die.  You turn into a ghost.

JEFF:  Oh, you're an authority on what you turn into when you die?

JESS:  I have it on pretty good authority you don't turn into a FISH.

JANE:  What if Rose wakes up and she's in a lifeboat and Jack's with her and she only dreamt that he died, but he's actually okay?

     (A beat.)

JEFF:  The dream thing.

JESS:  It gets done so much--

JEFF:  That's because it works.

JANE:  Then we just--explore their life after that.

JEFF:  Mmmmmmmmm I feel like--

JESS:  Yeah.

JANE:  What?

JEFF:  Wouldn't that be sort of--boring?

JANE:  What?

JESS:  Kind of--anti-climatic after what they just went through?

JANE:  Well, I guess, but what else--

JEFF:  But the dream thing I like.  We can keep that.

JESS:  Yeah, I'm warming up to it.

JANE:  And what happens after she wakes up?

JEFF:  Okay, so, let's break this down--Rose wakes up.  Jack is alive.  The ship is sunk.  But!

JANE:  But?

JESS:  Buuuuut?

JEFF:  But!  They build a new ship.

JANE:  What?

JESS:  Oooooh.

JEFF:  A new ship.  They build a new ship convinced that it won't have the same problem as the old one.  You know, like Jurassic Park but with icebergs.

JANE:  Who's building this ship?

JESS:  Jack and Rose.

JEFF:  No.

JESS:  No?

JANE:  No!

JEFF:  No, the, you know, the ship builders.  The people who built the first one.

JANE:  But they didn't.

JEFF:  What?

JANE:  They didn't build another ship.

JEFF:  And Rose didn't dream that Jack was dead, but we can take certain liberties.

JANE:  Rose and Jack are imaginary.  The ship wasn't.

JEFF:  I'm confused.

JESS:  Some of the movie was real and some of it wasn't.

JEFF:  We can do that?

JESS and JANE:  We can DO anything.

JEFF:  So why can't we make him a merman?

JESS:  What is it with you and mermen?

JEFF:  Just hear me out--The guy who builds the first ship is pissed.  He's furious.  His ship sunk because of a technicality.  He's determined to redeem himself.  To prove that he can make the greatest ship ever built.  Greater than Titanic One.

JANE:  Titanic One?

JEFF:  Rose and Jack know he's playing a dangerous game.  Against their better judgment, they board the new ship--knowing that if something goes wrong, they're the only ones who know how to save the passengers.

JESS:  By putting them in lifeboats.

JEFF:  But there aren't enough lifeboats.

JANE:  They still don't have enough lifeboats?

JEFF:  They have even less!

JESS:  Why would they have less?

JEFF:  Because they think they don't need them, because the ship isn't going to sink.

JANE:  But then it sinks?

JEFF:  You're damn right it sinks!

JESS:  And Rose and Jack save the day?

JEFF:  They try to, but then--

JESS and JANE:  Yes?

JEFF:  Rose dies.

     (A beat.)

JANE:  Rose dies?

JEFF:  Now that's a twist.

JANE:  Question--after she dies, does she become--

JEFF:  A mermaid, yes.

JANE:  Wow.

JESS:  Jeff, that's--No.

JEFF:  What?

JANE:  No.

JESS:  No, Jeff.

JANE:  No.

JEFF:  Why not?

JESS:  That's--pretty much the first movie all over again.

JEFF:  It's nothing like the first movie.  Jack lives.  Rose dies.  There are aliens.

JANE:  There are aliens?

JEFF:  I didn't get to that part yet.

JESS:  Okay...

JEFF:  The ship is actually a spaceship.

JANE:  And it goes into space?

JEFF:  Uhhh that's what spaceships do, Jane.

JESS:  So then how does it sink?

JEFF:  It falls from space into the ocean.

JANE:  And there are aliens?

JEFF:  Of course there are aliens.  There are aliens all over space.  Haven't you ever been to space?

JANE:  Have you been to space, Jeff?

JEFF:  I've seen space.

JANE:  Well, we've all...seen it, Jeff.

JESS:  This just sounds really out there.

JEFF:  Okay, well, you didn't let me tell you about the pirates.

JANE:  Jeff, this is sounding more and more like Treasure Planet.

JEFF:  I'm not familiar with that movie.

JANE:  You're not familiar with the modern classic--Disney's Treasure Planet?

JESS:  Can we stop talking about Treasure Planet and start talking about how we're going to reboot Titanic?

JEFF:  What about Jack's superpower?

JANE:  What superpower?  He didn't have superpowers.

JESS:  Jeff, did you see Titanic?

JEFF:  I saw...the trailer.

JANE:  You're out, Jeff.

JEFF:  Okay, but--

JANE and JESS:  You're out.

JEFF:  Fine, but let me just pitch one more thing--dinosaurs.

JANE:  Bye Jeff.

JEFF:  Like in Jurassic Park.

JANE and JESS:  Bye Jeff.

     (End of Play.)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Bandit Sings

Tonight I’m singing at Heads ‘N Tails
Which I’m sort of nervous about
Because it’ll be my first time performing
After being neutered

Like, I have no idea
What my voice is going to sound like

I’ve done some warming up
And everything feels like
It’s still pretty much the same

But my boy Skippy
Got snip-pyed
And now he’s a tenor
But not a pop tenor
Just, like, a tenor tenor

So, yeah, he can still sing
But now he has to sing about sad stuff
And young love
And he’s six-years-old
So nobody’s buying that

Back before I got cut
I would never have played a dump
Like Heads and Tails

I sold out six shows
At Kibbles and Hits
And Wag mag said
I was the next chapter
In American canine music

But then my owner
Put me in the car
And said we were going
To the park
And like an idiot
I got in the backseat
All excited
Only to wake up
With a cone on my head
And no more…

Well, you know how it goes

I didn’t even bother
Trying to call my agent

She doesn’t represent
Neutered pets

Oh, it’s not like an official policy of hers
But everybody knows
She doesn’t return your calls
Once you lose your b--

You get it

I was pretty much a pup again
At least from a professional standpoint
Which meant starting back at the beginning
Cold-calling venues
Offering to work for treat tickets
Opening for…


Heads and Tails is still top
Of the bottom shelf
And considering this is my comeback
I can’t complain that it took me
A third of what-will-probably-be-my-lifetime
To get back here again

But the booker for H&T
Asked me if I can still do
All the old chart-toppers
And I said ‘Ruff!’
But, between you and me?

I’m not sure

When I vocalize
I still have the top
Of the bottom part
Of my range
But that’s by myself
When I’m feeling good
And my human’s given me
Bottled water
Instead of making me drink tap

It’s not in front of a real audience
With critics
And people who remember
The dog I used to be

It’s not just my voice either

My memory isn’t what it used to be
So I have to keep the lyrics nearby
And my free-wheeling banter
With the audience
Feels more forced than it used to
Which could be my insecurity
Or just the changing cultural dynamics
Of live performance

I picture myself up there onstage tonight
Completely frozen
Staring out into the crowd
Tongue hanging out
That itch behind my ear happening
At the same time as the itch
On my tummy

They’re all waiting for me to sing
And I can’t

I just can’t

A lot of dogs retire
After their surgery
But I just wasn’t ready
To hang it up

It’s not like I’m trying to learn new tricks
I’m just trying to learn
How to be me again

But does anybody even remember
Exactly who that was?

Do I?

Older dogs who’ve been where I am
Would tell me to just take a seat
On a pile of dirt in the audience
And let some other pooch
Have the spotlight

And maybe they’re be right
About that

But when I think about some of those songs
My tail starts wagging
And it…

It just won’t stop

A dog’s gotta trust his tail, you know?

If nothing else

I gotta believe in that