1. 1. I am not a stranger here

  2. 2. Cuddlefish

  3. 3. Spring

  4. 4. Fall

  5. 5. Firecracker

  6. 6. Made in Vermont

  7. 7. Paid By Weight

  8. 8. Immunodeficiency

  9. 9. The Song I Didn’t Write

  10. 10. One-Way Sea

  11. 11. Resurrection

  12. 12. Japanese Garden / Jardin japonais / Японский сад (Yaponskii sad)

  13. 13. Song for Losers



1. I am not a stranger here


I don’t know this town,

But it’s your town—

So it’s my town too;


I don’t know that girl,

But she knows you—

So she’s my friend too;


I don’t know my way,

But I can count on you

To show it to me;

I am not a stranger

When I’m with you,

When I’m with you.

(D-d-do do do do do.)


Your mother seems to like me,

And you tell me

That it’s true;


Your cousin makes me food

That I have only ever

Dreamed of trying!;


I can tell that I

Could be so happy here

With you forever;

I am not a stranger

When I’m with you,

When I’m with you.

(D-d-do do do do d-d-do.)


Your room is a cave

That offers shelter from the stormy weather and

Beneath a pile of blankets we can

Hide away together, we can

Hide away together, we can

Hide away together, we can

Hide away together, we can...


When it’s time for me

To up and leave, there’s

A part of me I can’t make follow;


All day long

I’m longing for you,

And the tears are so hard to swallow;


After knowing

Life with you,

Life without you

Leaves me hollow... oh...


I don’t know my way,

But I can count on you

To show it to me;

I am not a stranger

When I’m with you,

When I’m with you;

I don’t know this road,

But I can count on you

To lead me down it;

I am not a stranger

When I’m with

You, when I’m with

You, when I’m with

You, when I’m with

You.



  1. 2.Cuddlefish


All my antics and my gibberish
Put a damper on my sentences;
I'm a [cuddlefish/cuttlefish]
Trying to cover up my incompetence.
Maybe your fancy just isn't ticklish—
Maybe your heart belongs to another fish—
But on your part that'd be foolish.
Baby, I think you ought to think through this.

The sea is big, big, big,
And it's full of scary things!
Like great white sharks,
And colossal squid!
And I'm worried about you...
I don't want you to get hurt.

I don’t want you to get hurt...

I don’t want you to get hurt.

If you love something
(So they say)
You should set it free.
But I disagree—
'Cause I can safely say that
Catching and releasing
Isn't what I'd want for me.

I know I know better than you do
What is best for you to do—
Can't you see the logic there?
It's superlogical.
My perspective is an outside one,
And that's really saying something
'Cause we don't have mirrors
And since we're under the water,
There isn't a surface
For you to see your reflection in...
Not that you don't look nice!
(In fact, how wonderful you look
Is exactly what the problem is....)

The sea is big, big, big,
And it's full of scary things!
Like great white sharks,
And colossal squid!
And I'm worried about you...
I don't want you to get hurt.

I don’t want you to get hurt...

I don’t want you to get hurt.

It guts me every time
I hear you're frequenting
Such sketchy dives.
It's not like it's a crime,
But what if you get caught by a scuba diver
Just like Nemo and I can't find you?

Still I'd never cease my quest for you—
What else would there be for me to do?
Sure, there are plenty of fishes in the ocean,
But not one of them could ever get a hook in my devotion.
So my love for you supports recent scholarly publications
Reporting that fish have a greater capacity for memory
Than was previously believed,
And I will miss you for the rest of my life.



  1. 3.Spring


Spring, and still

Leaves have not all fallen from the trees;


Holding hands and skipping

Stones across the river;


Flowers open

Wider than I've ever seen;


You can see them too,

If you hurry—

You can see them too,

If you come back to me.


Spiral bound

The pages that you wrote to me;


In between the letters lies

A secret that I'm meant to see;


It has been a season

Since I have seen the sea,


But we can go there soon,

If you hurry—

We can go there soon,

If you come back to me.


When I sit and sip my tea,

You're facing me...


You: a day, a month, a year ago—

It's all the same to me.


On every bus I see

On every street I see

In every passing pair of shoes

I see...


You.


You can see me too,

If you hurry...

You can see me too,

If you come back...



  1. 4.Fall


I saw you again

For the first time in ages

You looked just the same

But you sounded so different

Your manner of speaking and

The tone of your voice

Were so changed.


If I were a bird

I’d have fluttered away

But as I don’t have wings

I was required to stay

In my place at the register

Ringing you up

In the most awkward way

In that stupid café...


I saw you again

For the first time in ages

You looked just the same

But you sounded so different

Your manner of speaking and

The tone of your voice

Were so changed.


And I’d never seen that shirt before

And I’d never seen that bag before

And I shouldn’t want to see you more

Often, but I do...


And I’d never seen that scarf before

And I’d never seen that hat before

And I shouldn’t want to see you more

Often, but I do, I do, I do...


It’s been a whole year.

It’s been twelve whole months.

The innumerable minutes—

I counted each one.

In a manner of speaking

I still really love you

And I can’t get you, can’t get you

Out of my head.


I’ve spent all this time

In extensive reflection

And in my recollection

The things that I said

Were gratuitous

In their emotional content

And I’m sorry

If saying them scared you away.


I shouldn’t have acted the way that I acted

I shouldn’t have called you

I should have retracted

The things that I said

At the moment I said them

Or better yet

I should’ve never been born.


I should have retracted

The things that I said

At the moment I said them

I shouldn’t have called you

I shouldn’t have acted the way that I acted

I need to be punished

I need to be punished

I need to be punished

I need to be punished...


Every thought inside my head

Is suddenly exploding;

Every object in my room

Is suddenly too dull;


Everything I feel inside my heart

Is fully inappropriate;

Every object in my room

Is suddenly too dull...


There’s only a window there

Only a window there

Only a window, only a window

(You can do it you can do it you can do it you can do it)

There’s only a window, only a window, only a window, only a window there…


There’s only a window there

Only a window there

Only a window, only a window

(You can do it you can do it you can do it you can do it)

There’s only a window, only a window, only a window, only a window there…


...


There’s only a window there

Only a window there

Only a window, only a window

(You can do it you can do it you can do it you can do it)

There’s only a window, only a window, only a window, only a window there…


There’s only a window there

Only a window there

Only a window, only a window

(You can do it you can do it you can do it you can do it)

There’s only a window, only a window, only a window, only a window there…


There’s only a window there

Only a window there

Only a window, only a window

(You can do it you can do it you can do it you can do it)

There’s only a window, only a window, only a window, only a window there…


I close my eyes and

In my memories,

I’m drowning in your coat;

I’m gathering the leaves that fall...


In my memories,

I’m drowning in your coat...

I’m just jumping in the leaves

that

fall....



  1. 5.Firecracker


Blue-, blue-, blue-eyed

Scruffy fella—

Helicopters buzzed against

Our cheeks and ears and necks and

Turned us all around

In terms of color:

Blushing, queasy, spinning

And irrevocably endearing

Drinking fountains, puppies, penguins,

Little lambs…


Don’t you dare go

Making me like you more;

I hate you more and more

Every second I’m with you;

Every second you’re making me like you

More and more,

I hate you more

I hate you more.


Firecrackers have no choice:

The fuse gets lit,

The voice comes shooting out

In sparks and sparkles—

And a minute

Lasts a lifetime,

Lasts a heartbeat,

Never lasts for sixty seconds

Like it should—

And no matter what

It’s never long enough—

But it’s still good.


True, true, true, I would

Be your boyfriend

If you’d be mine,

But this whole situation is

Becoming so ridiculous—

Mr. Potato Heart—

Indeed, it seems

You lack a few essential pieces;

Would it be taboo for me

To skip-bo right past go,

Play operation and connect for good

The clues to cure this sorry state of

Constant aggravation?


Don’t you dare go

Pushing my love away

If you’re gonna just

Pick up the slack and

Pull it right back

In a stupid kind of tug-of-war game

That I don’t wanna play—

Unless I’m on your side,

In which case

I’ll be with you all the way.


Firecrackers have no choice:

The fuse gets lit,

The voice comes shooting out

In sparks and sparkles—

And a minute

Lasts a lifetime,

Lasts a heartbeat,

Never lasts for sixty seconds

Like it should—

And no matter what

It’s never long enough—


I could go a day without you

I could go a hundred days

But I’d spread those hundred days

Out over a century

If that’s okay with you

Sometimes I get the feeling

I’m just on display—

Like some little punk’s been

Pressing against me,

Setting me off for a

Pyrotechnicolorful


Don’t you dare go

Don’t you dare go

Don’t you dare go

Don’t you dare go

Don’t you dare go

Don’t you dare go

Setting me off and

Running away

When I’ve got something

I still want to say…

Again!


Firecrackers have no choice:

The fuse gets lit,

The voice comes shooting out

In sparks and sparkles—

And a minute

Lasts a lifetime,

Lasts a heartbeat,

Never lasts for sixty seconds

Like it should—

And no matter what

It’s never long enough—

And no matter what—

It’s never long enough—

But it’s still so

oh oh oh-oh-oh

good!



  1. 6.Made in Vermont


Hermit was sleeping

And dreaming

Just like the maple syrup

That was seeping

So sweetly

From the tree

In which he was

Soothed by the buzz

Of a hundred honey bees

Returning to the hollow

From a red clover field


Something’s sure sweet about that tree

Something’s sure sweet about that

Fuzzy warm reality

It’s good enough for squirrels

So it’s good enough for me

I’m not aware of any substitute that I could ever want

There’s no comparison, I’ve found the real deal

Made in Vermont…



  1. 7.Paid By Weight


Someday,

Maybe ten, maybe twenty years from now,

There will be a knock at your door.

There will be a man standing there with a clipboard.

And you will sign your name on the dotted line.

The man will hand over

A parcel bundled up in wool.

You will look down to consider it;

You will look up to say thanks,

And the man will be gone...


But a plaintive cry will draw your eyes

To a baby pelican

Sitting on your welcome mat,

And the pelican’s eyes will dilate,

And the eyes of the trees will dilate,

And you will be a sea anemone:

You will contract upon this contact.


Will you feel small?
And will you feel scared?

And will you gasp for air

And find there’s nothing there

But a fatal mistake?
Will you finally weigh what you have given

Against what

You take and you take and you take.


Somehow,

You will think once again of the package in your hands

You will begin to tug at the wool.

It will come off easily in pieces,

But it will cut right through the prints upon your fingers and

It will pile up around you in a mountain of gauze

In a car on a hospital train,

Where the surgeons lack credentials

And the scalpels are just saws.


But a plaintive cry will draw your eyes

To a baby pelican

Sitting on your welcome mat,

And the pelican’s eyes will dilate,

And the eyes of the trees will dilate,

And you will be a sea anemone:

You will contract upon this contact.


Will you open your arms

To the birds?
Will you open your arms

To the trees?

Will you repast them

With your own blood?

Will you finally give back

The breath that you take?

(and you take and you take and you take.

You take and you take and you take and you take.)


Somewhere,

Underneath the many years of stinging fibers,

You will find your gift.

Will you ever understand what it means?



  1. 8.Immunodeficiency


Trouble is,

Nowadays,

We go walking in the rain

Protected by our plastic parasols.


From the mists

To the waves,

We don't think we ever will implode again,

The mighty leaden rollers rushing in to kill us all.


But the ships are swiftly sinking,

And the submarine in which I am

Sequestering myself

Is failing to produce a proper answer.

I'm thinking to myself,

I'm telling me that deftly I'll be

Giving my advice to all the world, that

The cells we're in are splitting

So it's looking like

It's likely that it's cancer.


You looked sweet

Standing there,

Smiling at me sleepily

Suspiciously like someone who is dead.


Shake the sheets,

Let 'em air,

We'll go down in history

Conspicuously grinning like the cat who's in the story life we've led.


And the ships are softly sighing

As the sedimental seafloor says

A prayer to bring them home

And sings a sullen cradle song of death.

I'm thinking to myself,

I'm telling me that certainly we

Haven't got the heart to tell the world that

The tumors are malignant,

So the time is coming

When we'll breathe our last breath.


From the start,

Where was I?

I was not the kind of guy

To look a fading flower in the eye.


Cross your heart,

Hope to die,

Hope to soon be sailing smoothly heaven-high,

Surrounded by the seabirds as they skim the starless sky.



  1. 9.The Song I Didn’t Write


I can’t wrap my head around

The notion that the present is a gift.

You know me well enough by now

To know I know that your devotion

Has a tendency to shift.


I can wait for you forever

If that’s what you want.

I can be a fountain for you

Always filling, always spilling.


I burnish every surface in the house

But still I’m haunted by the dust.

How much of it is your skin?

How could I begin again?


You know the words to all my songs

And you prove it to me every night.

But could you guess the lyrics

To the song I didn’t write?



  1. 10.One-Way Sea


You tell me that the boat is moving forward—

Whatever that means when there is no land in sight.

I’d always pegged you as a shorebird—

But in light of certain facts,

I’m inclined to take it back.


Don’t underestimate me;

This field of research is my specialty, my specialty!

I will crack this hierarchy

If it is the death of me,

The death of me!

The death of me…


You tell me we are sailing on a one-way sea—

I nod my head and hold my tongue.

(You are an idiot!)

You gave me a bum steer, crowing of your lofty views;

I might have known you were

A rooster on a booster seat!


Don’t underestimate me!

(Clearly there’s no danger of my underestimating you!)

I will commandeer this vessel

If it is the death of you,

The death of you!


—Must you respond so saltily?

My faculties…

Have long been…

Bursting at the seams…

Brimming as they are…

With onomies,

And ologies,

And

Memories!

Memories!

Memories!


Don’t esterundimate me!

I will hack this crierarchy!

—Cut me, please—a little slack, I mean—

Mental tacking’s never been my specialty.

My knack is for a marked lack of strategy.

But spin around and take another whack at me

Look back at me — and see!

I will stack up properly!

If it is the death of me,

The death of me,

The death of me,

The death of me!



  1. 11.Resurrection


Rain falls down,
And the rain compresses all the sounds into the ground.
When the clutter goes away like this,
The silence can be found.


A silent color guard routine
Flows forth from the flowers as they sing.
Do you see?
The stamina are heavy,
But the filaments are glistening.
And this is why we need the rain.


The raindrops falling on my head must remain,
Because the leaves and debris are clogging up the drain to my brain —
But a creek can carve a canyon,
So I’m counting on a clean cut to christen me.
I need the rain.


Do you ever wonder why the rain was invented?
Was it to put puddles where the streets have been dented,
So we’ll have a place to play
When we’ve had a lousy day?


Nah, it was probably to melt the snow.
Nah, it was probably to help the rivers flow.
Nah, it was probably to soak the seeds we sow.
Nah, it was probably to make the wild things grow.
Nah, it was probably to give us all a show.
Nah, it was probably to sooth the winds that blow.
Nah, it was probably to let us know
There’s something out there even when were all alone
And if we listen real close
We can maybe hear the tapping of its toes…


I had lost myself, but I came back around.
And I memorized the map before it seeped into the ground.


I need the rain.



  1. 12.Japanese Garden


[...]


breaking through the ice, I

scuttle down the riverbank till I

espy the arboretum

in your house…

in your home…


and covered in mud, I

crawl into a carapace,

and down the hallway

you, the coniferous buoy

bobbing on alpha waves,

inspire a siren song,

compose a nodding poem

that will never see the light of day

that will never see the light


(but I)

read in a dream

Japanese garden

head on the shoulder

Japanese maple

read in a dream

Japanese garden

head on the shoulder

Japanese maple

read in a dream…

read in a dream…


crossing crooked bridges,

safe to knit you any garment now, but I

cast off my crafty armaments, I

cast you aside and I

scoot away


but didn’t we ditch those demons?

are we not free to freeze and thaw as we please?

to perch on branches

whittled into benches

built for human

shivering

un cœur en hiver

un cœur qui ne verra jamais la lumière


(mais je)

lis dans un rêve

jardin japonais

tête sur épaule

érable du Japon je

lis dans un rêve

jardin japonais

tête sur épaule

érable du Japon je

lis dans un rêve…

lis dans un rêve…


everything will be

simple someday soon

everything will be

simple, oh so simple

everything will be

simple someday soon…


Простите мне, что я решился к вам писать. Перо в руке—

вырезано имя на стволе.

Меня кожа покраснела на свекольном красителе

Вы меня поймали с поличным, читающего во сне;

Ирландца, ходящего в шотландке, я люблю!

Неразумно, но безмерно— я люблю!

Относительно дополнительной сосновой шишки—

Я не беру в голову, не беру в голову.

Собственно я вырою уютную яму ему.

Очевидно, язык мой — враг мой.

Но языка чужого я не опасаюсь;

не боюсь укрепиться в густолиственном лесу!

Тучи собираются над мной, а я пережду грозу—

и как только вы дадите оценку

я дам вам компенсацию,

и секретно, в карман пальто, окаменелую незабудку...


[...]


I don’t want to be forgotten

I don’t want to be forgotten

I don’t want to be forgotten

anymore

anymore


denuding adamant layers

I peel past a period of interregnum and

inherit the gilt cardboard crown from

the downy-crested phoenix—

my predecessor in this queue of

panels in triptychs

painted and pruned.


the kingdom’s a sham;

Hamlet without the Prince—

and though a tree you may well be,

I am not convinced.


copper head on hickory shoulder,

curled under covers,

a fetal web of words…


read in a dream

Japanese garden

copper head on hickory shoulder

breaking through the ice—

un cœur en hiver…



  1. 13.Song for Losers


I’m a pretty good guy—

I scrub behind my ears each morning,

And I floss every night.


I care about the environment—

Nowadays people seem to admire that—

And yet,

It’s so hard to find a friend…


If you don’t drink,

If you don’t smoke,

If you don’t wanna poke

Everything with a pulse,

You’re a loser,

A disaster,

They’re perpetually telling you to grow up faster.

Well, if that’s what it takes to be cool,

Someone needs to change the rules.


I’m impossibly kind—

I’ll never ever forget your birthday,

And I’ll always care what’s on your mind.


I’ll go with you to the fair—

And maybe if we’re lucky I can win you a bear—

So where

Is someone when I need someone there?


If you don’t drink,

If you don’t smoke,

If you don’t wanna poke

Everything with a pulse,

You’re a loser,

A disaster,

They’re perpetually telling you to grow up faster.

Well, if that’s what it takes to be cool,

Someone needs to change the rules.


I am a vegan,
And I ride my bicycle whenever I can.

I’ve got a feeling I could save the world—

If I had someone to help me…


Outside on every street

I pass a multitude of people

That I’d never wanna meet—

As they stagger to a place where they’ll carouse all night,

I just wanna cry and yell at them with all my might,

I just wanna stop and tell them that it’s not okay

For them to fritter every second of their life away like that!

I wanna say, hey! Why can’t you see?

You don’t know what a party is

Till you’ve hung out with me…

We can dance through the puddles in the empty streets

We can warm up and cuddle in between the sheets

We can make popcorn on the stove

We can watch X-men

Parts one, two, and/or three…


If you don’t drink,

If you don’t smoke,

If you don’t wanna poke

Everything with a pulse,

You’re a loser,

A disaster,

They’re perpetually telling you to grow up faster.

Well, if that’s what it takes to be cool,

Someone needs to change the rules,

Send me back to elementary school

So I can play all day in my kiddy pool,

Never have to worry about how buff I’m not,

Never have to worry about how tough I’m not, and

Maybe I won’t even notice whether I am loved or not—

I dunno.

I dunno,

I dunno…


I don’t know what to do.

I’m in a quandary

It’s clear I need somebody

But I cannot seem to find out who…


And if they’re anything like me,

It’s likely that this person would be tricky to see,

So if you do,

Would you please refer them to me?


‘Cause I don’t drink…

And I don’t smoke…

But I could brighten up

Your day with a joke—

If you let me…

Once you’ve met me,

Maybe I can make it so you never want to forget me…


Maybe we could change the rules.

 

Forgive me for deciding to write to you. Pen [slang: knife] in hand—

name carved in a tree trunk.

My skin reddened by beet juice dye

You caught me in the act, reading in a dream;

The Irishman dressed in plaid

I love not wisely, but too well— I love [him]!

I love not wisely, but too well— I love [him]!

With respect to the additional pinecone—

I'm not worrying, not worrying! [lit.: not taking it in my head]

As a matter of fact, I'm digging a comfy hole for him.

Obviously, my tongue [language] is my enemy...

but a foreign [alien] language [tongue] — I do not fear.

I am not afraid to fortify my position in this overgrown, leafy forest!

Dark clouds gather above me, but I'll wait out the storm—

and as soon as you give an assessment,

I will give you compensation,

and secretly, in the pocket of your overcoat, a petrified forget-me-not...

a heart in winter

a heart that will never see the light


(but I)

read in a dream

Japanese garden

head on the shoulder

Japanese maple

read in a dream

Japanese garden

head on the shoulder

Japanese maple

read in a dream…

read in a dream…

a heart in winter...