at hotel cafe in LOS ANGELES

rachel and the band

Stand up, rock the boat
Get a little water under your float, hey
“Exhaust the little moment, soon it dies” she said
If it’s gash or gold
It will not come again, hey
In this identical disguise”*

But the brick ticket counter only takes cash
And your only ID is a bus pass
And you get to the front of the line in time 
But you’re afraid to ask
The big kids from around the bend 
Chase you down to the corner store and then
You pony up, pony up if you want to last 

Stand up, rock the boat
Get a little water under your float, hey
“Exhaust the little moment, soon it dies” she said

If it’s gash or gold
It will not come again, hey
In this identical disguise”

We put the playground behind us
Pushed the envelope back into our binders

Ran to the stop where only the words of 
Gwendolyn Brooks could find us

Someone sent away for a Ninja star
I spent my change on a pull-up bar
There’s nothing you forget 
More than reminders

Stand up, rock the boat
Get a little water under your float, hey
“Exhaust the little moment, soon it dies” she said
If it’s gash or gold
It will not come again, hey

GWENDOLYN SAID

In this identical disguise”

It’s what Gwendolyn said
What Gwendolyn said
Over my head, over my headStand up, rock the boat
Get a little water under your float, hey
“Exhaust the little moment, soon it dies” she said
If it’s gash or gold
It will not come again, hey
In this identical disguise”
Over my head . . .

*Gwendolyn Brooks from “Annie Allen”

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ACCORDIAN SONG

I’m sorry I was not stronger when I saw you
Instead I only wanted to cry,
Hearing about your dad, I admit
Got me thinking about mine
You were looking slight and small
Beside the writing on our wall 
Our meeting here was supposed to be benign 
And I thought I would be stronger when I saw you 
Instead I only wanted to cry 

Singing ooooh….. 

Some days you can’t articulate a story
You take a crack at humor but you miss 
I remember clearly when you told me 
How to avoid situations like this
Where you are talking casually
With a friend you only rarely see
On a day when you could easily start bawling

Now I am trying desperately to follow some propriety 
With feelings I cannot seem to swallow 

Singing ooooh….. 

Holding it together is a metaphor 
For someone trying not to fall apart 
Like the bellows of a loosely hung Accordion 
That move against a tightly pleated heart

They say it’s like a one-man band 
A piano right inside your hand 
That doesn’t need a complement at all 
And maybe that’s why I’m sad 
The years we’ll spend without our dads
Are echos in an empty concert hall 

Singing ooooh….. 

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HEY kEITH HARING

Hey Keith Haring we followed you following men back into caves 
Back in the day when the Xerox machine and the Polaroid are raging 
You made the chalk talk to the black
You gave graffiti love and graffiti loved back 
Drew the tension into lines that still vibrate 
‘Cause there was something on the inside that you could not not articulate
Call if blood, call it guts,
Call it chalk, call it dust 
You drew outside the lines we fear
You were here

Hey Keith Haring we followed you following Basquiat and Warhol
Back in the day when we posted on pillars and stapled up the walls 
You kept a Sharpie in your pack

You gave graffiti love and graffiti loved back
When you ran up from the tunnels to the street above
There was no victim there just some criminal mischief but still they locked you up

Call it blood, call it guts….

Hey Keith Haring we followed you following art back into crowds
Back in the day wehn the galleries stayed far away from lines that loud 
You got a pop shop, you got swag
You gave graffiti love and graffiti loved you back 

On a T-shirt with a drawing of a barking dog 
And a baby who was dancing on her way to learning how to crawl 
Call it blood, call it guts…. 

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THE WINDING ROAD

Reading the pages of a Modern Love
The Sunday papers’ little treasure trove 
Mama’s in the kitchen washing up 
Baby’s at the window stalking trucks 
And I look at these hills I can’t believe 
I didn’t used to see their beauty 
I used to think this winding road 
Was just the highway to get home 

Have you seen the view from Grizzly Peak
Eucalyptus Grove, Strawberry Creek 
An empty lot where we used to go 
To watch the Fourth of July show 
And I look at these hills…. 

We flew down the canyon in your cousin’s car 
Climbed barbed fences to the reservoir 
In a corner cave we might have carved a heart 

But I can’t remember that
I can’t remember that
It’s a grand disaster and a catch-22 
You take for granted what they give you 
When they mow it away, you might appreciate 
You can’t rake back the time you waste 
And I look at these hills….. 

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THE SEA YOU SEE

I know where to look at Ailsa Craig 
And predict the kind of weather 
If the island wears a hat that’s made of fog 

And I know where to find a hermit in a cave
Where the roads are lined with heather 
And I know where to find Greyfrair’s Bobby dog

But though I got your eyes, I cannot see, the blue behind your gaze
When I see you see, the sea you see, beyond the ocean waves

I know how to walk a tatty field 
And find a berry in the brambles 
I know how to dance a fearsome eight-some reel 
And I know how to make a shepherds pie 
And hear the sound inside a seashell, yes 

I know how to play a Burns lullaby 
But though I got your eyes, I cannot see, the blue behind your gaze 

When I see you see, the sea you see, beyond the ocean waves

And I guess you had some wanderlust 
And a pack of Marlboro Lights 
And though it’s hard to imagine you before us 
I guess there was a time 
When you left the land of lochs 
And bought a ticket to the land of the kiwis 
Didn’t fear the vastness of this globe
And I know I’m not the only one who’s glad you didn’t make it all the way to New Zealand

But sometimes I wish you weren't 
So far from your home 

‘Cause though I got your eyes, I cannot see, the blue behind your gaze
When I see you see, the sea you see, beyond the ocean waves 

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COLORADO RAIN

The spring that follows a Colorado rain 
Is not looking for love, she’s not looking for something
The spring that follows a Colorado rain
Is not looking for luck, she just wants to sing 
We went chasing up a mountainside  
And running in our long johns 
On the best day of my childhood life 
Pure bliss, pure crisp mountain air, no expectations 
Just in, just us, just this

Colorado rain
The spring that follows a Colorado rain 
Is not looking for say-so, she’s no decoration 
The spring that follows a Colorado rain 
Takes off the raincoat and a coat of pain 
Reaching through an hourglass I want to punch my hand through 
I’m too overwhelmed to ask you how you are 

Did you get lost, lose trust, trust fall or fall to pieces
Just what, just how, just this

Colorado rain
The spring that follows a Colorado rain 
She’d love to see you, she’s doing fine, 
The spring that follows a Colorado rain 
Just went through hell, so you better get in line 

The spring that follows a Colorado rain is in the country
She’s redirecting spiders to the doorways in the barn
So some pig, terrific pig, gold medal pig 
Can get the message: Just kick, just grin, just this 
Colorado rain 

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UP ON A LADDER IN BOOTS

I met a woman who paints like a 
Carpenter building a balcony 
Stretching her canvas like scaffolding 
Up on a ladder in boots
She says she’s more like a circus clown 
Dangling from a trapeze she found 
Dizzy from putting the drop cloth down

Up on a ladder in boots
There is no mirror inside her room 
Who can be sure when she’s all alone 
That it is really the same someone
Up on a ladder in boots?

Give it a day and she’s coming down 
She was too wired to look around
I looked for eye contact, none I found 
Up on a ladder in boots 

There is no mirror inside her room
Who can be sure when she's all alone
That it is really the same someone 
Up on a ladder in boots?

How could the handshake be callused, dry
All from a woman who makes you cry
Like Caravaggio’s secret sky 
Up on a ladder in boots 

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FLYING TOGETHER

You are flying away tonight
With our youngest, flying together 
And though I wish I could be your light
Your compass, I know better 
Than to try to control 
Anything anymore 

I will wait here at home 
For the phone when you’ll say,
I am here, everything is okay 

You are flying away tonight
With our youngest, flying together 
And although you can’t see it yet
I am sure he’s curly headed
Like a girl that I knew 
In a hat in a store
With a globe full of snow 

On the phone who would say
I am here, everything is okay
You are flying away 
You are flying away 

You are flying away together 
You are flying away tonight 
With our youngest, flying together 

His older brother can’t sleep tonight 
And I wonder if he will ever 
When you’re gone, on the road 
And he waves to the phone 
In his cape, in his room 
With his light that can glow 
Like the moon in the snow
Not the same, does he know 
You are here, everything is okay 

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SPIN

My constant friend, she said 
“You’re a human being not a human doing” 
But look at you go twirling
You’re a top on a tabletop
Not about to drop, not about to stop, no
I can see your muddy colors swirling 
And you spin, over, over 
Like leaves falling in the wind 
Spin, over, over 
Leaves falling, leaves falling in the wind 

‘Til you’re spinning around again 
My head is down
It’s looking at the ground below me 
When I go you won’t be 
Waiting around lonely 
Some cats, they fall 
While their backs are turned 
When they land they learn

 It’s their feet getting dirty
And they spin, over, over
Like leaves falling in the wind
Spin, over, over 
Leaves falling, leaves falling in the wind 
‘Til your spinning around again 
You can trip on hope ‘til you can’t seal an envelope 
Or you can lick that little sticky bit goodbye 

I’m on the edge of the well, but I can’t even tell 
I don’t even know where my wish is hiding 
I don’t even know where my wish is hiding 

Spin, over, over 
Leaves falling in the wind 
Spin, over, over
Leaves falling, leaves falling in the wind 
‘Til they’re spinning around again 
Spin 

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STRANDED

I carried home a suitcase of your notebooks every night
Didn’t have a clue what I was doing 
Happily I gave you all of my beginner’s mind 
And somehow we all go through it 

And when I landed in Phoenix
I could not believe the heat 
Where we were standing 
When we went up on the rooftop 
The blacktop beneath our feet 
Like we were stranded 

Knocking on the fencepost 
Just to meet your old grandma 
She said there were men here but the boy never met ‘em
Then she brought out a photo of a uniformed grandpa 

When they built the airport they offered our school a lot of money 
If we would put our building underground 
So we dug a hole and 
From underneath, we were aware of all these engines running

We could not, we could not hear a sound 
When I landed in Phoenix 
I could not believe the heat

When the Navajo soldiers got a medal 

And when I landed in Phoenix 
I could not believe the heat

We were standing
When we went up to the rooftop
The blacktop beneath our feet 
Like we were stranded 

And when I lived in the desert, the snapshots were weak
And so I only remember some things 
Like they made all the inmates in the state prison wear pink
To shame them, to shame them 
And they were stranded
And we were stranded 
Stranded 

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DEAR FRIEND

Dear friend I'm proud of you
Your voice is sounding better
You knew what you needed
Was an answer to your letter
No that it has come, some things are done
Not saying that's it's settled
But the land is shifting underneath your luck, and
It's sand instead of mud that you are stuck in

Dear friend, the soulless 
Is taking inventory
Just another boring day 
Of streaming sunshine in the morning
And now that spring has come
Something's begun
Not saying that it's warmer
But the calla lilies stretch across the stream
And a battle ends when nothing's in between


You held your ground
And gained some power you should hold
Hold the letter, hold the answer
Hold the right to have some anger of your own
Then let go

Dear friend, I'm mad that you now live so far away
I will forgive you if you promise not to waste away
And make space for new neighbors
I'm not saying that it's easy
But you made it, now get it, it's your bed
And it's chin up like our mothers always said

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WINK AT JULY

Leaving the Cape and the Center of Space
Apollo touched down at Tranquility Base
On a magical night in the middle of July
The whole world stopped to look at the sky

‘Cause a footprint like this had not yet existed
Before it arrived maybe nobody missed it
A little bit early, but really not a bit too
And now it’s a part of the dance that we skip to

I look at the sky in her layers of maroon 
And the glow in the eye
Of the little grey moon
And I wonder how I got to be in this room
And I wink at July like the astronauts do

We are leaving the way of a life we once knew


We would dance by the ledge 
Of the open window

Now our boy’s blowing bubbles and pushing his broom
He’s our Billy Boy baker, our little bijou
The books that he chooses he chooses with care
He’s our laundromat dancer with sun in his hair

And he started to notice the bump on your lap
The last time you cuddled him down for his nap
He is getting a brother no not that he knows
But he sees how the love in this family grows


I look at the sky in her layers of maroon . . . 


With our walk-up apartment, our little bijou

There were five flights of stairs and not one of them straight
And a laundromat view from the fire escape

And the Billy Boy bakers put rings into pies 
And we gathered around with those books and those guys
We moved in tight spaces like bubbles of soap
With light and with color we bent and we broke

I look at the sky in her layers of maroon . . .
They played music every Sunday
In the alley below

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