Cruelty

cruelty

Legitimate Film

Screen door breaks, Mary’s dress tears
It finally fits in with the rest of what she wears
She’s clumsy, never took ballet
And she never made it in legitimate film

Two college courses in the back of her mind
Are fading fast along with how to be kind
She’s graphite, facing some stiff truth
Since she never made it in legitimate film

C’s on her report card
See her try in vain
She never shagged off-screen
She never bowed down to cocaine

Forty-four hours at a meter-wide desk
They pay her bills along with freelance burlesque
Her friends say she deserves better
Still she should forget about legitimate film

And she knows it’s true when she’s alone and tired
It will not hold her back from trying to get hired
But she’s too old. There’ll be no breakthrough
And she’ll never make it in legitimate film

D’s on her report card
D cups hold her down
Decent, yes, but desperate
Descent from clouds to the ground

A weekend warrior wearing last year’s suit
He sits behind her on the morning commute
He’s fifty. Open to most things
A widower and a divorcee, he still wears both rings
He eats chocolate-covered raisins, he drinks half-caf joe
Smiles at every stranger and says, “What do you know?”
He’s humble, and I bet he won’t care
That she never made it in legitimate film

Besides, who ever makes it in legitimate…

The Cruelty of Teenage Girls

Summer in the southland is rough on your car
Fluids evaporate while engines combust
The AC it broke in my Buick
So I called a mechanic I trust
He said, “Your AC runs on Freon man,
And nowadays that ain’t good news
‘Cause Freon’s been banned for environmental reasons
So I asked him, “Then what do you use?”
He said, “Researchers stumbled upon it
While developing flawless, permless curls.
They found something better than Freon
In the cruelty of teenage girls.

They pump it in from high schools all over
There’s a receptor in every locker door
And every heart that falls out of some young romantic
They scrape it right up off the floor
At first they were tapping the boys, too
To power some New England town
But the football team started sucking it up
And the army enlistments went way, way down
But you can still get a few seconds of coolness
Out of every cheerleader’s baton as it twirls
You can even drive through Texas in August
Thanks to the cruelty of teenage girls.

So, our drivers are saved from perspiration
By the cruelty of teenage girls
But fears of the night put me down on my knees
To pray for the rest of our world
I pray for resolution in foreign lands
I pray for redemption at home
But God interrupts as I say my amens
And tells me to leave him alone

He says, “The universe runs on the Freon system now
So talking to me does you no good.”
I said, “Isn’t Freon bad for the environment, though?”
He says, “The environment’s bad for the environment
If you think about it.”
Then he said, “Here, check out this burning bush
Chomp on this burning coal
Shut up
And let me enjoy retired life
Let me go fishing, let me get to know my wife
Let me drive my Buick as chilly air swirls
Thanks to the cruelty of teenage girls
Thank me for the cruelty of teenage girls
Thank Freon for the cruelty
The la la la la la la girls

Amelía

She goes ‘round with her head held high
She goes ‘round thinking nothing’s wrong
I go ‘round with a moistened eye
I’ve been waiting so long for
Amelía

She gave birth to my second child
She gave birth to the one who lived
He don’t know where he got his smile
It was all she could give,
My Amelía

She came back for a spell last year
She came home, and the sunlight shown
We held hands and she seemed sincere
Still she left me alone again

I’ll be dead before Spring returns
I’ve met mercy and felt her grip
She’ll extinguish this heart that burns
And scrape that name from my lips

Fatty Arbuckle

Fatty Arbuckle presses his knuckle
Into my noggin, gives me a floggin’
Fatty Arbuckle releases a chuckle
I go for the ball bat, before I recall that

He prefers Roscoe Arbuckle
Roscoe Arbuckle is his real name
I defer to Roscoe Arbuckle
I’m never gonna call him Fatty again

Fatty Arbuckle moves at a fast pace
Good with a sight gag, quick with a pie face
He loved Buster Keaton as well as good eatin’
He dabbled in wordplay and died on his best day

But he prefers Roscoe Arbuckle
Roscoe Arbuckle is his real name
I defer to Roscoe Arbuckle
I’m never gonna call him Fatty again

Fatty Arbuckle accused of a murder
He said they made love, they said he hurt her
Three juries later, Fatty was let go
He wanted to work again, but everyone said no

Now he prefers William B. Goodrich
William B. Goodrich is his new name
I defer to William B. Goodrich
I’m never gonna call him Roscoe again
I’m never gonna call him Fatty again

Domesticity

I was a fool, I made a rule
And broke it right away
I stand today a broken-hearted soul
Love took its toll
Now all I’ve got is refried beans and rock & roll
I was a man, I had a tan
But now I’m pasty white
Fluorescent light has taken all my tone
I live alone with a fungus that’s been
Growing on my unused phone

Let’s have memorial, don’t need a preacher
She only notified my Spanish teacher
Let’s have a funeral, don’t need a casket
My heart’ll fit inside a picnic basket

Open up your soul and pine
For the man who used to live inside this head of mine
He used to care for wrestling
Used to care ‘bout money
Used to care ‘bout everything but you

Pick on up your pace and come
To the man who makes his bed inside my cranium
He only wants to worship, only wants to feel
Only wants you behind his wheel

You once were strong, you sang along
When I shared my ideal, it wasn’t real
But you can fake so well, now things are swell
Are you happy or delusional, it’s hard to tell
I’ve made it plain, I feel the pain
But I still have my pride. It’s deep inside
With memories of you before you blew
Everything that made you special
On a blind man’s view

Go buy a wedding ring, don’t need my blessing
You’re only lifting up the burden pressing
I feel better every time I see you with your taker
He’ll only let you be a baby maker

Open up your arms and reach
For the man who raced against you on a crowded beach
Back when solo, back when you had style
Back before you wallowed in denial

Pick on up your ears and listen
To the man whose lips you took the time to kiss
Back when you were hungry, back when you had soul
Back before you flushed it down the bowl

Maybe I’m the one caught up in wishful thinking
Maybe I’m the one who’s clearly misled
Maybe I’m projecting my own misguided values
Maybe I should quit while I’m ahead
Nah…

I wasn’t serious, I was just joking
Can I please have a puff of what you’re smoking
Smells like someone settling, tastes like a wasteland
Please take it back before I get some secondhand

Open up your legs and wait
For the man who now controls your mediocre fate
Let him charm you further, kissing you discretely
Now that he’s devalued you completely

Feel the wind upon your back
As you inventory everything that you will lack
Take the time to focus, one last look at me
As you land in domesticity

The Last Remaining Beatle

The Last Remaining Beatle
Will slaughter Michael Jackson
He’ll strangle him to death
While he’s sleepin’
He’ll strike with such a
Surgical precision
He won’t even awaken
The preteen boys in the bed
He’ll take that clip-on nose
For a souvenir
Then he’ll say, “The King of Pop
Is done here.”
And the Last Remaining Beatle
Will fly away

The Last Remaining Beatle
Will swing by the household
Of the hottest new boy band
And show them some moves
He’ll say, “Drop your manager
Drop your stylist
Grow out your hair
And see if there’s some talent
Deep inside of you
Don’t ever claim to be
More popular than Jesus
People just won’t understand
And The Last Remaining Beatle
Will say good luck

The Last Remaining Beatle
Will roll one with Dylan
They’ll record a tune
And hide it away
They’ll talk about Elvis,
Buddy Holly and Hank Williams
And lament that they never got to
Be those guys
Then our hero, he’ll say,
“Bob, how do you get your crowds to listen?”
And Bob says, “I don’t know,
I just go out and play ‘em.”
And The Last Remaining Beatle
Will shriek like a girl

The Last Remaining Beatle
Will stand on the rooftop
Of Apple Records
And remove his face
To reveal the green-skinned
Alien beneath
He’ll say “Sometimes I regret
That we came to this place
We did all we could to share what’s true
Now here for the last time I’m telling you:
All that really matters
Is holding someone’s hand
And sometimes it’s ok to just say
“Yeah, yeah, yeah”
Come together right now
Let it all be
Don’t hesitate to say
“Help, I need someone.”
And every John should turn you on…
Every Ringo should get a chance to sing-o

And The Last Remaining Beatle
Will wave good-bye
The Last Remaining Beatle
Will never die
She loves you
Yeah, yeah, yeah
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love

Everyman

I’ll be there when you need me
Like rivers wriggle to the sea
I’ll dig a trench with constancy and patience
Before your car begins to sputter
When your toast needs jam or butter
You’ll never find another man like me
I’ll be your everyman
Your back-up plan
Your biggest fan
For as long as I can

I’ll be there when clowns attack
And when your high school calls you back
To tell you that you never passed geometry
And I’ll be there to hold you in
When slow metabolism sets in
I’ll be your lift and tuck procedure
As well as your
Everyman
Your catamaran
Your VW van
Your luxury sedan
For as long as I can

I’ll be there when toil and trouble
Pop or burst or blow your bubble
I’ll excavate you from the rubble
And I’ll arrive when slippery slopes
And radioactive isotopes
Come callin’ for to dash your hopes
You can count on me
I’ll be your everyman
Your cotton candy
Your mocha grande
Your daily brandy
For as long as I can

Now with this song I don’t refer
To how we are or how we were
But rather how we’ll be as long as you’ll have me
I see a brilliant future coming
Trumpets trumpin’, drummers drummin’
You are my every woman
Glory be
And I’m your everyman
Your Peter Pan
Your Steely Dan
The wind beneath your wingspan
Your open-air CAT scan
Your sunless tan
Your lifetime ban on the Ku Klux Klan
Your Mexican flan
Your everyman
For as long as I can
Not quite done
I’m your everyman
I’m your everyman

El Soldado

In the distant future, not soon enough
El soldado don’t look so tough
The children say he’s just plain mean
The only soldier they’ve ever seen
And they stick their tongues right out at him
He don’t do nothin’

The sunlight never meets his glaze
When the lights go out, soldado stays
He don’t guard nothin’, ‘cause there’s no need
It’s a different world, he’s a different breed
But his posture is impeccable, maybe even too good

The cotton gin and the brontosaur live on el soldado’s floor
They stare at him, and he stares back
But they don’t fear that he’ll attack
They just wonder how on earth he got there
So does he

El soldado is made of wax
In a museum near Halifax
His guns, his bombs, they lay beside
Ancient tools of ancient pride
And the placard explains that el soldado
Is extinct

Wheat Threshers

I dream of wheat threshers and golden fields
The joy, the promise of a well-earned yield
I see my sweet Maggie hold our baby’s hand
On the day we signed for my father’s land

I was sober as a nun when they flashed their brights
And gave me a ticket for a broke taillight
They did some casual searching and just by chance
They stumbled on a bundle of forbidden plants

Now, I never done nothin’ to hurt no one
I never stole a penny, never fired a gun
Still a court-appointed lawyer couldn’t keep me free
‘Cause I spend one night a week in private revelry

God made man and God made grace
And both should thrive in almost any place
But man made rules and man made fear
And man made this cell where I’ll stay three years

My girl will be in pre-school when I make my return
I’ll have no job, no cash, no will to burn
Now, I could smoke a whole damn field and never match the harm
Of this grounding from the pounding of the law’s long arm

You Let Me Down

We were young, young when we pulled in
To the heart of Texas, half past ten
I’d like to live those days again
Back before you let me down
The sky was big just like my dreams
A year or two ago, it seems
Like yesterday we were a team
Until you let me down

I wish I could make sense of you
We had a bond so rare so true
But your love shrunk as my love grew
And then you let me down
Was it fear of love or pain
That caused you to retreat, refrain
And does that foolish fear remain
That made you let me down

I wish we could make amends
But I can’t stand your loser friends
And I’ve seen other nasty trends
Since you let me down
You’re selfish in a subtle way
You have to win or you won’t play
Seems like I had one more thing to say
Ah, you let me down

To this day, you stand so tall
You shrug your shoulders while I fall
And every day that you don’t call
You once more let me down

To Be So Bland

That girl back there is saying the most banal things
She only stops to take a breath when her cell phone rings
She plays hard to get, she lets it go
But does she bother to turn her ringer off? No!
She must be all grown up to be so oblivious

She sighs when she spies the title up on the screen
She swoons at the parting shot of each well-played scene
She laughs a laugh that lets all of us know
She’s the only one here who truly understands the show
She must be well reared to be so obnoxious

I don’t dare swivel to spy the source of her tone
She’s so clearly unbearable, there’s no way she’s here alone
Her opinions synch right up with mine
If I were shallow and sheltered and pumped full of wine
She must be beautiful to be so bland
She must be beautiful to be so bland

Main Street

Raise the flag and I’ll salute for
The freedom to spit on its markings
But I won’t bow to a big dog
Who doesn’t know biting from barking
The man on top is just a lucky joe
Filled with lust and mistakes like me
But Main Street still believes
That country is sacred

Marriage is not bound by angels
Fixed by pixies or sculpted in starlight
It’s just two folks, making sure they
Have someone to cling to at midnight
They may thrive or they may split up
Regardless of God and the fates
But Main Street hasn’t heard
Someone spread the word
That marriage ain’t sacred

Children are just future grown-ups
The people you yell at in rush hour
They deserve all our protection
You can’t always count on some higher power
But let’s be honest, tell them life’s rough
Make it less a surprise
Still Main Street won’t submit
Main Street won’t admit
That childhood ain’t sacred

We’re just monkeys, pleasure junkies
If you can’t find beauty in that, you lose
All the glory of the story
That our struggle to find something more is through
Let’s take comfort in each other
In the short time we have
Oh, someone take this truth
From our wiser youth
Someone go tell Main Street
That nothing is sacred

Sometimes I Forget

Sometimes I forget that Magic Johnson
Is infected with the deadly virus known as HIV
As I pin him to the wall and make sweet love to him
Right after we been drinkin’
These days all I hear about is
How he owns a sports team and some movie theaters
So like an unfettered tiger, I ravage him
Without even blinkin’

Sometimes I forget to be afraid
Sometimes I forget to be afraid
And if you’d stop reminding me
I’d have it made
Sometimes I forget to be afraid

Sometimes I forget that two space shuttles
Have exploded, and one became a furnace on the launch pad
As I’m drinking Tang and checking meters
Halfway to a planet we call Mars
Sure, the thought of speeding comets
And that one guy’s glove
Makes it hard to sleep sometimes
But the thought of crashing through Uranus
Always makes me giggle and press on

Sometimes I forget to be afraid…

Sometimes I forget that those two towers fell
When planes collided with them on a day called 9/11
As I’m eatin’ peanuts, reading Skymall
On a one-way flight to old New York
No, I do not fear the harbor or the anthrax
Or the crime rate or the Broadway shows
Look at me, I just might be the biggest infidel
That town has ever seen

Sometimes I forget to be afraid…

It’s these times when I forget
That grace and glory swirl around me
In a dust storm
And I sail upon El Niño with my dream tucked
Like a broom between my thighs
And no government, no terrorist
Could make me feel one ounce of apprehension
As I pray for the lost ones who sit at home
Choking on the lies

Sometimes I forget to be afraid…

©2016 Southpaw Jones. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *