No Competition

Dylan versus Ochs:
who would win?
Dylan versus Ochs,
who would win?
One goes out
after two go in.
Dylan versus Ochs:
who would win?

Phil Ochs was this reporter with a guitar
just telling it like it is
informing all the masses
of the issues of the day
until Dylan traipsed along
into town
just some hobo with a way with words.

Dylan the cyclone.
Dylan’s the behemoth.
Dylan the ravenous
before whom all things must fall
and be ravaged
or ravished
or ragged upon.

Dylan beat Ochs.
Dylan beat everyone
within his league
and many in any other league
he could find.

But did Dylan beat Elvis?
Did Dylan beat Picasso
or Hemingway or Marilyn
Cher (all right
he totally beat Cher.
Her hair’s all right
but that beat did not last long enough
to get us through the night.
Dylan’s rhythm stays
as long as winds whistle through windshields).

Dylan wins a lot
ignoble as he is.
Ochs saw it, years ago
and could take it no more.
He quit once he had his fill of it.

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Sewn Up

Dude, it’s not your story to tell. It’s not from your memory
or your family’s
or your people at all.
You never even saw that land
or the dances they refer to.
You don’t know what you’re talking about
or even what I’m talking about right now. Whatever you were spouting about before
was not for you to say.
How dare you speak of it?
How dare you speak at all?

Dude, there are so many subjects
on which have experience
and license to speak
like the price of tea in Bushwick
or… look,
I’ll bet there’s something else
you know the first thing about
but you don’t know about that place
you don’t know that family
and their lives
and you don’t fucking know that story
well enough to tell it
as your own
you appropriating lameass poser.

Get your own culture
and take some ownership
and talk about it
if you can find anything interesting about it.

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Bean Hill

When you know it’s not working.
When there’s nothing quite right.
When there is no anger,
no hatred, no fury
in the disagreements
just a sad awakening
to the knowledge
that paths have diverged
and all the differences have been made
perhaps forevermore.

When you’re afraid it’s over
and you don’t want it to be.
When love hasn’t left the room
but resignation has filled it.
When you almost wish
there was a villain
an enemy
a marked contrast
that would make this all more palatable,
easier to understand.

When you understand it all perfectly
and don’t want it
but know what has to happen.
When you know the future will be better
but you’re not yet prepared
to face it
just yet.

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Hey! I like how judgmental you are.
It really makes you likable
and I think it increases your ability
to appreciate situations
and people
and even the aesthetics of the universe
you inhabit.
No doubt:
your judgmental behavior
is one of your better characteristics
and has served you ever so well
all these years.
Keep up the good work!

Your pessimism, too,
is top notch.
It leaves you wary and suspicious,
sometimes, sure,
but that just means
you’re prepared for what life has to offer
and probably
if anything ever gets past
your net of critical hazardous assessment
you’ll be so joyous as to be positively euphoric.
I swear: I look forward to that day.

Your frown displays
a proud sense of purpose on your face
a direction and focus
that proves you know who you are
like few others.
You are brave and forthright
and your face projects that perfectly
all the time.
Good for you
and good for your sour, bitter face.
May it remain judgmental and negative
as long as it serves you
as well as it has.

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This Will Be The Last Time

Last time you did that piece
you were wearing a slightly stained shirt.
Last time you did that piece
she looked amazing.
Last time you did that piece
you really emphasized the word cock.
I mean really emphasized it.
Overemphasized it
like it meant something special to you
like you had suddenly realized
the true meaning of cock
and you wanted the world to know
your understanding of that true meaning.
It was weird, y’know?
But kinda sweet, too.

Last time you did that piece
you rushed the delivery near the end
and cheapened the punchline
or what was the presumed punchline
from the last thirty times you did that piece.
The last time you did that piece was,
after all,
a week after the last time you’d done that piece,
which was itself just a week after the time before you’d done that piece.

You must really like that piece
or be really forgetful
or think the audience is really forgetful
which we aren’t,
by the way.

The last time you did that piece
wasn’t bad.
Maybe you could make that last time
last for a little while longer

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That Awkward Moment

Both their backs against the wall
they look ahead
staring at large screens
instead of each other.
They speak haltingly
uneasily. It’s unclear
if they’re trying to communicate
or avoid it.

This is that awkward moment
where either they end
or discover the story
they eventually tell their grandkids about.

Soon she stands
drops some dollars on the table
and exits
without a backward look.
He remains transfixed
his gaze remaining upon a screen.

Their grandkids
may have to wait
for another night
to learn if they’ll ever come to be.

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Alla tha Stacks

Dig the scene: it’s a cloudy day. Ominous. Thick with Gloom.
As this shifty motherfucker sleazes up into the room.
It’s the house on the hill where people always sneak in
to do whatever comes to mind, however they might sin.
The kind of place you get to fuck or gamble or kill.
Whatever you might choose; whatever ill you will.
And this is where Dubs entered like he had some nights before
‘cept tonight, he swore, he’d beat the house, he’d take ’em down, and more.
See, Double You, that dude, he had a plan that eve.
He had a couple card games all conceived within his sleeve.
He’d cased the place a couple times, to gain the land’s a’ lay.
Dubs just needed to get dealt into that game that night to play.
At the center of the room a lovely lady held her court
passing shuffled cards to players post a very thoughtful sort.
Double You reached the table, grinned at the dealer leerily
and said “You got room for a wandering stranger like me?”

Alla tha stacks alla tha stacks alla tha stacks
he’d win.

Alla tha stacks…

Dubs, or Double You, born Will at his mama’s call
like every other child on earth, was a good one, born to fall.
Missus Lyon raised no dummies, no one never would claim that
so when Double You took his seat while taking off his hat
he’d prepared himself to beat the odds and all the gods of fortune
and he tossed off to the dealer the one hundred dollar buy-in.
Dubs smiled with teeth and settled in, expecting not to lose
probably ’cause up in his sleeve he held some extra twos
or maybe since he carried some more aces in his shoes
and also he could count the cards. Tonight he wouldn’t snooze.
He looked the players over, checked out the dealer’s bust
and traded in two cards to find himself with a straight flush.
He raised the bet up steadily, with other players folding
until Dubs and the dealer were the only two still holding.
He calls her by her name, with his evil, toothy grin,
and says, “Well, sweet petite Allison, I do believe I win!”

Alla tha stacks alla tha stacks alla tha stacks
he’d win.
Alla tha stacks…

Well, Double You kept winning, exactly as he’d planned.
His scheme was working perfectly, as if upon command.
If he kept it up, he’d win all the money he would need
and get out of this godforsaken house at utmost speed
and carry that whole stack o’ cash and leave the neighborhood
and move Old Mama Lyon out of the damned state for good
or he could lose but Billy wasn’t worried. He stayed cool
and upped the ante higher, adding chips into the pool
while flirting with the dealer without polite restraint
insinuating things to make Allie’s grandma faint.
“My last hand,” Billy said, thinking “easy enough to do,”
as from his hat’s brim, he quickly palmed a king or two
and layed down a royal hand. The day was his for sure!
And he leered at Allie once more with thoughts most impure.
He grabbed at chips until the dealer said, “Pardon, Dubs?
Can you explain how is it you have three Kings of Clubs?”

Alla tha stacks alla tha stacks alla tha stacks
he’d win.
Alla tha stacks…

Billy Lyon’s name was mentioned somewhat often after that
but his face? His eyes? His leering look? His hands? His giant hat?
Not one of those have been found again since that time.
Not in myth or history. In prose or in a rhyme.
The pieces of the story may be hard to put together
but prolly easier than Billy, knowing how he’s likely severed.
The most obvious lesson is: don’t mess with the house.
They know when you been cheating, so don’t act like a louse.
Also: treat staff staff well, whether hot or no,
and even though it’s hard, never treat her like a ho.
Anyway, this happened all a while ago by now
so the statute of limitations has passed up, anyhow.
If there’s anything more you hope to take away from this tale
Maybe it’s this: I dunno? Do the crime, go to jail?
or possibly: you’ll get the horns if you chase too much tail.
And finally: if you risk it all, don’t fail.

Allie’s stack Allie’s stack Allie’s stack she won
Allie’s stack Allie’s stack Allie’s stack…
Allie’s stack
Stack Allie.

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Piss Brothers

We storm the streets
drinking, coughing,
seeing what we can see,
arguing about whatever the fuck
taking turns in corners
watching, covering,
marking territory
making sure no one notices
as our streams cover
increasing an area
of our town.

We are piss brothers
fighting our fights
for the city’s pleasure
dropping half-eaten pizzas
on our wayward trek
and finishing them soon after.
We spend our nights in public
out loud
watching the world
as the world watches us
under the bright lights
of an urban midnight.

It’s a weird world
when we notice it
but more often
we’re oblivious
until the bleary morn
when we spy the rivulets
we caused in the evening
and wonder what the web will mean
now that it is dawn.

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At this particular point,
I’m not too sure
just what I have left.
If there’s anything of worth left on offer
within me
around me
I’m surely unaware of it
and not at all clear
how I it can be harvested.

God knows
I’d like to.
I’d love to be able
to provide you
something of mine of value
from my heart, my soul,
my mind
anywhere at all.
I just don’t know what I’ve got
that you might want.

Is there anything at all
that you could
that I have left to give?

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The Ladder

I was suspicious at first
but after trying it out for a little while
I really gotta admit this,
this totally sucks.
This thing is not working
in any way.
You have totally gotta get me down.

I liked the view, certainly
and being above everybody else
appealed to me, no question
but life on the ladder really has got to change.
I can’t communicate.
I have to shout down to you
and you only understand some of what I say.
Fact is, most of my missives are misunderstood from this height.

I’m sure I look thinner
all the way up here
but it’s hard on my legs
and it’s awkward to see
or agree
or to be
up on this ladder.
I have just got to get down.
Can you please help me
head back to your depths?

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