The Long Goodbye (2019)

What I Heard On The Pop Radio
Save the emotional garbage
for someone who’s gonna pretend
much better than I do
Gut up, shut up
Take it like a man

A baby voice gangsta dreamboat
A bearded toff who sings like a girl
They got something they’re gonna wanna sell you
Gut up, shut up
Take it like a man
You got delusions
You have intentions
You think that this is real?
Gut up, shut up
Take it like a man

You want real? No, you don’t
Real is in my eye
Look!
Gut up, shut up
Take it like a man

You see, I see
I see you
This eye
Gut up, shut up
Take it like a man can

Save the emotional garbage for someone
Who’s gonna pretend better than I do
Almost anyone will
Gut up, shut up
Take it like a man.

(Thomas) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


Marlowe
You’re not human tonight, Marlowe
not human at all

Your eye is strange
Your hand trembles in the rain

You’re a shadow on a wall
waiting for the penny to drop

You’re a shadow on a wall
waiting on a penny that’s never gonna fall

You’re not human tonight, Marlowe
not human at all.

(Thomas) ©2019 Cherry Red Songs, under exclusive license from Hearpen Music



Flicking Cigarettes At The Sun
In the jet fuel dawn of a runway town
the sun is a spectacular orb perched upon the ground

Yesterday haunts
all your tomorrows

Flicking cigarettes at the sun
One more spark oughta see it done
Eucalyptus flames flickering through the streetcar names block after block

The coffee’s in the pot
The clock on the wall’s about to drop

Fare thee well, Los Angeles
Your shuddering breath
Your ever-lingering death
Awkward and cruel

I wish you Götterdämmerung, Los Angeles
Here it is! Your flaming Dead Pool

And in Bay City
waves pull away the sands grain by grain

Fare thee well, Los Angeles.

(Thomas) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


Road Is A Preacher
Land is a teacher
Road is a preacher
The wind is a psalm
The tires sound like rain

I always pray that we might get along
Bye-bye, baby, it’s time that I am gone
Can I get a witness?

I’m out here again
The sky is my friend
It’s open
Yeah, honey, it’s open for business
Can I get a witness?

The wind is a psalm
and the tires sound like rain

Bye-bye, baby, time that I am gone
Can I get a witness?

(Thomas) ©2019 Cherry Red Songs, under exclusive license from Hearpen Music



Who Stole The Signpost?
I came out here to find Harry Partch.

I drive the back roads
Mile markers ticking by
All the way from Barstow to Big Rock Candy Mountain
Cigarettes grow on trees
Whiskey and soda bubble from rocks
I drove in vain

I look to see the shadow of Harry’s face
in the open doors
of the one graffiti free box car
in a mile long freight train
parked in the Mojave
I looked in vain

South of San Clemente
I search the coast road
for the remains of a one pump diner
where the honking horn sounds like a Zymo-Xyl
Harry’s ghost is summoned to serve 5¢ gasoline
I searched in vain

On a scrub hill
I study the thump-thump-thumping
of the last lost oil rig in Los Angeles
I listen for the trace of a Chromelodeon
but in the tinnitus of LAX
it must be drowned

Folks out here
grind the parochial underfoot
and salt the ground
Where Artifice is King
the Abstract is the Thing
(Who stole the signpost from everywhere?)

(Thomas) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


The World (As We Can Know It)
There’s ghosts in windows
Voices muffled through the walls
The more I know the less I see

Ghosts in windows
The less I know the more I see

Aaaah!
I’m howling

Yeah
Progress is a funny thing

I can hear you
and I see you
like you’re not there.

(Thoma) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


Fortunate Son
Yeah, I hear voices in my head
That’s me
My voice

Now the problem with crazy people is they don’t recognize that voice as their own
One person you don’t want to be alienated from is yourself
That’s gotta cause problems

My favorite voice speaks from under the lamplight of a roadside diner
in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles some time in the 40s
something like a Jim Thompson novel

I like to speak from other places that don’t exist

Waiting in line at a Dairy Freeze Whip stand
on a bayou outside Houston
Inside the ghost ruins of the cities of my Martian ancestors
At the end counter table of the Waffle House with the view of Walden Pond

I was just there –
A man about my age comes in for lunch with his granddaughter
He punches in ‘Fortunate Son’ and ‘Layla’ on the jukebox

I’m looking out the window and thinking about America and I start to cry
So I pay the waitress for his meal and tell her not to say who it was
but she does and he comes out to thank me

‘Thanks for playing the songs,’ I answer
‘You like Eric Clapton?’ he asks
I think about what to say, it takes a moment
‘It’s a good song,’ I say

Places that don’t exist have something in common
They’re real
Places that do exist aren’t so real after awhile.

(Thomas) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


The Road Ahead
I.
The air itself is black
The susurration of the Interstate is become the breathing of an unnamable organism

The parking lot outside the diner is almost empty

Light hangs in a column from a lamppost
The silhouette of a hat, a face, a cigarette
Fluid smoke expands into the columnated light laser’d
A voice

Yeah
I’m the Last of the Americans
I knew the Golden Age
I saw sunlight shine off its polished surfaces
I saw the dimness come
Even so, I do not regret

I cross the Great Continent 

Searching, riding radio waves
Oh, my brothers
I too am a Free Citizen of the Lost Nation

I follow any signal until it ebbs

Fated background noise

Inside the babel of proto-life electronic soup
 Straining to hear

Adrift only moments

I coax a new carrier wave into amplitude

Off I go again, into the night
 Alive

Thus I cross the great continent

The Unmapped Dark 
like ancient mariners journey
 from one sighting of land to the next 

In the rearview my face is lit

Beatific dashboard glow

Free, white and twenty-one! 

Honey, you can say you love me 
but I’m a sonnuvagun
Tuned in, I am home

The Last of the Americans

After us come barbarians.

II.
There’s a river that flows through the heart of darkness twisting
turning back on itself like a headless serpent in its death throes

Along its banks
deep into the night
natives are singing a strange song
Ore boats are coaxed upstream
through impossible geometries
Eruptions of steam
the clang of heavy metals
and the throb of pink noise pulse
as life’s blood flowing through mills and factories
linked by random spans of gravel roads
and ancient cantilevered bridges

Flames rise from the ground in rail yards
The air is dense and granular
Exaggerated Cyclopean tube works are woven
across roads that are on no maps
through ballast dumps at the water’s edge
and around hills that are glass shards of grouped colors

The confluence of fire and earth
births steel where the sound of the sun itself
is trapped inside rust-faced monolithic structures
Shamans who work the molten metals through the night
are standing outside
waiting for the bar to open
Their eyes
outlined by the paler flesh of goggle-protection
track our pilgrim’s progress

Imagine a journey up that river
no end in sight
The memory of there ever having been a starting point
faded and lost
Imagine time frozen
leaving no way up and no way out

That was what it was like.

III.
The machine
magnificent and graceful
bounced sunlight from its chromium surfaces
I had to see what it could do
I got it out on the Interstate
that runs through the Pennsylvania wilderness
and opened it up
Wildlife scattered in my wake
It was satisfying
After awhile
a sign hove into view
‘Satisfied City Exit 1 Mile’

“Satisfied City is a good place to stop”
I said to myself
But I saw the road stretch ahead
in order to disappear over the next hill
And I had to know
I drove on

Across the flats
of Indiana
through the Indian megalopolis
of what would become East St Louis
crossing the Mississippi
eventually
I came to another sign
‘Satisfied City Exit 1 Mile’
“Now, that’s odd”
I said to myself
But I looked ahead
I saw the road parallax to the horizon
I had to know
I drove on

After another while
another sign
You know the story
Thus I crossed the Great Continent

Now, many miles later
the road is running out on me
I can see the end ahead
I’ll drive my once magnificent vehicle
onto the beach in Bay City
muffler dragging
engine steaming
doors hanging off
I’ll walk to the water’s edge
Standing before the waves
of the Immovable Pacific Object
I’ll hope the end comes quickly
before I can recall every Exit
I passed to get here.

IV.
On the other side of every desert is Bay City
which sits at the end of the road
at the farthest reach of the last straining lunge forward
of an exhausted dream
and at the end of the line
for every Free Citizen of the Future Passive Conditional
where the irresistible westward urge
collides with the immovable Pacific Object 
and loses

We take our place
at the end of that long checkout line

while we wait for time to catch up
We face the mirror

We cross the desert
The buzz of neon on the horizon
draws us through parched heat
 as if it were Reno, Nevada itself
sucking on that long straight straw

of that great lost highway, US50

So, after the test

after the epiphany

after the vision
the revelation and the satori
the end of the road is
and always has been
Bay City

where all travelers must come to a Separate Peace
or be swallowed up.

(Thomas) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


Skidrow-On-Sea
This town is rotten to the core
and the lady upstairs snores
There’s a fire in the port
No one knows what water’s for
This town is rotten to the core
This town is rotten

She has a dog
She has two dogs
And the lady upstairs snores

This town is rotten to the core
What’s that smell?
This town is downwind from Hell.

(Thomas) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


Lovely Day
It’s a lovely day by the sea
Mr. Potato Head is strumming at guitar
Beggar on the bench is acting lewd and crude
Weekend Father’s got his kid out for a stroll
Wind turbines offshore are shredding the seagulls once more
So that’s good
and it is as it should be
on a lovely day by the sea

Onions are frying
Chip wrappers are flying
Wind surfers are out pestering the fishing boats
The Bongo Dredster is playing it just as good as white folks
New Age banners are slapping in the breeze
There’s a new flavor on the board at the Dairy Freeze
Mungo Jerry is nursing a cup of tea
Watching the joggers and unwed mothers promenade

Somebody must be lonely
but not that I can see
Somebody must be angry
but not that I can see
Something must be wrong
So that’s good
and it is as it should be
on a lovely day by the sea.

(Thomas) © 2019 Cherry Red Songs, under license from Ubu Projex


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