Friday, August 31, 2007

187 : 10/14/98 : Waiting on Grace (Canto 9)

Time passed and vapors gathered in the filthy air
And a crowd of lost souls gathered round to mock our plight
And my guide drew his cloaks about him with his face drawn with care

He eyed the murmuring mob around and muttered “this can’t be right
To come so far to be turned back by this hellhound crew
Ah waiting is the game of perdition’s endless night

“Hey Eliot” I said “tell me, is it true...”
His words were eroding my confidence
“You know your way around this place don’t you?”

He gave me a deep look that brought me to sense
“You’ve read what I wrote long ago
I’ve stared hard down every dark path; I know my way hence”

Our spectators drew back and a sickly glow
drew our heads around to a darker view
Three figures had mounted the wall screaming “You little worms below”

Are you waiting on grace to come and save you
Grace doesn’t live here anymore
We’re her sisters though and if you want passage through

We’ll only need some small favor in return for
Our help, how about that little scrap
you’re so proud of: your immortal soul will buy you through this door

The poet took hold of my head in a snap
and covered my eyes with his hands
“Look not on these evil spirits do not heed their rap”

“I know them from before” I said “I wrote of them in other lands”
I heard those bent creatures howling, the crowd harassing
And creeping closer in motley bands

“Look now” said my guide, “one now is passing
the tower on the border of this marsh
Look down to where the foul smoke has been massing

Through the filthy cloud of vapor acrid and harsh
strode an angel of power and light
Fog and spirits scattered in the wake of its unveering march

The furies melted back into the night
As he opened the door with one solid kick
And called out “Mockers even here do you fight

Powers that are so clearly beyond your sick
spirits’ domain, are you so blind still?
Even we can’t figure out what makes you tick”

It stood a moment at the iron sill
Then turned and went the way it came
It never paused to look at us for whom it did its master’s will

“Come now son” the poet said pointing to the flame
“Let us go among these monuments of human shame”

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Saturday, August 25, 2007

186 : 10/13/98 : Lords of Hell (Canto 8)

Arcs of flame started from the rusted stack
that towered at the edge of the swamp we came to
And in a moment through the fog flames answered back

My poet guide said hell does not yet name you
But this signal means they mark our reproach
And he pointed past the fog, all shot with flame, through

which a speeding shadow had begun its approach
The silence was broken and the water disturbed
by the passage of the 30 foot fiberglass coach

We stood there on the shore of hell’s suburbs
At the sight of my guide the boatman said “Poet, at last
I’ll convey you to a proper shore”; my guide replied “Let your hunger be curbed”

“We need you for passage only, then your usefulness is past”
He gnashed at that but he let us board
And his sullen features seemed of lead cast

Off the side a figure rose up; from his foul robes water poured
His burning eyes filled with a hungry plea
And hissed why does a mortal come here where wrath is stored

And with a flash of anger I slapped his hand from me
recognizing him as one who had done me harm
“Filth to filth” I muttered angrily

“So shall all be judged who judge” said my guide, his words served to charm
My anger as quickly as it had come
And as we neared the shore I saw our passage had raised some alarm

I heard shouting voices and the beat of a drum
“You’ll pay more than fine words to pass us” a voice shouted out
“We are lords of hell and not mere minions like some

Your poet friend here’s found it easy enough to route
So you skinwalker go find your own way home
And you poet, come let us pull you inside out

I looked back at the vast reach of treacherous foam
and scum laden water behind
Wondered if I was now cursed this cursed landscape to roam

T.S. said “cast the trouble from your mind
these dukes of hell cannot resist their orders
of powers they must bow to, though to them they are blind”

“Pray Eliot,” shouted one of the dark wardens
of the iron doors that stood in our way
And barred our passage to hell’s city’s borders

And my poet guide aside to me said “indeed pray
And on this request a great spirit comes even as I my vespers say.”

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Friday, August 24, 2007

185 : 10/12/98 : A Sea of Sullen Faces (Canto 7)

Me and T.S. Eliot forded the festering stream
that ran from the eternal trash heap
Some ugly cop tried to stop us but T.S. said “this ain’t your dream”

I heard the crashing as we clambered over the steep
bank and on the other side
I saw the diabolical dance of the spendthrifts and the cheap

miserly souls; they heave at great stones, some rode astride
they shoved and grunted and their backs did bend
They got momentum and when two stones would collide

They’d scream “why do you tax?” and “why do you spend?”
“why do you borrow? why do you save?”
“Why won’t you give me some give me some” and they’d start it all again

I said master that’s a mighty funny way to slave
Away eternity he said son that ain’t nothing
But I grant you money’s a damn silly way to pave

The path into this wracked and ruined thing
But pass it by on to deeper hells
These mad and anonymous accountants we must be passing

And we passed through into a mire that must be fed from tainted and abysmal wells
And straight into a frenzied and bloody melee
They were filthy and bloody and beat to shit and they only stopped fighting to die for brief spells

And my guide said mark them, wrath was their way
And so always must wrath come to
Always they’ll rage as they raged in my mortal day

But wrath son cannot carry one without some who
Grim and self-centered refuse to rise from their places
And raise a finger or even a voice at those who would take your very life from you

Look down into the murky places
of the swamp; see those bubbles boil
Look deeper, and see a sea of sullen faces

They would neither be carefree or toil
all their lives they kept their arms crossed
And sullenly watch those who sought light battle those who sought to spoil

And now most like what they were in life they are among the lost
They will not even move to raise their heads
Above the slime where they’ve been tossed

Sullenly they crouch in their murky beds
Only shift to croak their little tune
Singing “look down anyone who treads

across for we’ll not look at all for soon
You’ll walk along and be gone
We prefer the dark side of the moon

And only sing our sullen song
To tell you we still think you’re wrong.”

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Thursday, August 23, 2007

184 : 10/11/98 : Greed (Canto 6)

As I was pondering alas that love could ever be a sin
we had tracked into a festering pile
It seemed in this ditch hell’s garbage barge had shed its skin

A sea of cigarette butts fast food trash and other things more vile
used prophylactics and hazardous medical waste
And thrashing weekly up out of it a bloated soul said hey kid hold up a while

You don’t remember me but slow your haste
We lived in the same town
I was one with a big fancy car a cell phone and a taste

For having more than any one man could choke down
It choked me in the end
Last thing I remember is being strapped to a table in a hospital gown

Far too late for me to mend
my ways but in this never ceasing
day I see around time’s bending

I see what you think you own you’re only leasing
Greed will tear down the city we once shared
Greed will tear down the high men and all the flocks they’re fleecing

Remember me remember how I’ve fared
Spread the message you are what you eat
And even the wise will be ensnared

And then he sunk down in the refuse at my feet
And I pondered the prophecy he’d bid me to repeat

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

183 : 10/10/98 : The Way Young Lovers Do (Canto 5)

A bullish clerk in a poorly tailored suit
behind a polished slab of wood
Gave us a bored look when we queued up to the chute

Said poet go ahead that’s well and good
go slum with the sinner set
But you with the skin still on, he pointed where I stood

Back to the topside, go on, get
We’ve got plenty of agents up top
To put you on the path to me till your time’s met

My companion said this is not our stop
pal so stand aside to the higher will
Your only task is to sort those damned who make the sullen drop

We go our chosen path so bite down on the pill
and let us pass
We went along and out of the chill

Caverns came a blast of sulfurous gas
The furnaces below my partner mused
But first we meet a better class

Of those by perdition abused
This is where all the lost love goes
All all of those who false love used

To achieve some undeserved repose
Yeah the way young lovers do
Turned their backs when the sun rose

Thinking their love sufficient and true
Fell together into the well of souls
Just take a look at these two

She said our hearts were like burning coals
when it first began
We shared all the same dreams and goals

He said we kinda lost track of the plan
and drifted along together
And by and by it all fell outta the pan

And into the fire when it hit stormy weather
sometimes the rock you clutch
is just a tether

And pretty soon we fought too much
And I was staying out till dawn
sometimes any support is a crutch

Lookin’ back on all the good times gone
And long past skies of blue
A man’s mighty quick to make himself a path

So listen to our story ‘cause it could happen to you
Oh the way young lovers do

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

182 : 10/9/98 : Between (Canto 4)

843 ?

I vaguely remember stumbling off the boat
rubbed the sleep out of my eyes
And saw a field where a strange calm seemed to float

My teacher sensing my surmise
Said indeed this is the highest point of hell
such as it is, on just this little rise

we are left alone until the final bell
To contemplate the ways of things
All other damned pass by us just as well

And when the judgment clarion rings
We’ll see what we see then
We’ll see what the new order brings

We’ll see if it all begins again
So come and meet a few of the gang
Meet the honest women and men

Who live without hope and without pang
of remorse those who watch and wait
In the region between where we hang

And so we stayed very briefly just outside the gate
Of inner darkness and the long climb down
And I spoke to the poets, of destiny and fate

But we had to go and my guide’s face fell into a frown
Lunch break’s over he said, let’s hit the bad part of town

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Friday, August 17, 2007

181 : 10/8/98 : Near Side (Canto 3)

Above an iron door it reads
All you who enter give up hope
For here you reap the harvest of the seeds

You sowed along the slippery slope
You’ve done exactly what we predicted
You’d do given enough rope

Work will set you free it said
And better you than me
And hey don’t you wish you weren’t dead

Open it my guide said it’s time to see
How the other half gets by on the other side of death
Come and find out what goes on among humanity

When they draw their last breath
So I swung it open on heavy hinges
And was assaulted by a cacophony like 50 thousand meth

heads having heart attacks the sound still impinges
on my dreams at night
When I wake up and think of it my soul cringes

Back from the hideous sight
Millennia legions of vague shades
muttering and racing, endless collapse and flight

I said teacher what is this mob that fades
and flickers in this stagnant room
what is this babel murmur that pervades

this stinking living tomb?
He said you ain’t seen nothing yet
These are those of the apathetic doom

Who never knew enough anything to forget
Spent their lives searching for the remote control
They’re searching for it still with no TV set

They chase flickering lights they crash at the bell’s toll
They wallow in soggy sheets and think about tomorrow
Get up and start running interchangeable lost souls

But hold back your pity and save your sorrow
You’ve still got a long way ahead of you
This is just the shores of those who borrow

existence for a test drive or two
At the riverside our bus is waiting
To take us and a couple thousand damned through

To where the offspring of the foul mating
Of intellect with twisted virtue in charge
Still festers in the thirst that is without sating

Out of the fog I saw the monstrous garbage barge
of the damned loom up to shore
I said man that boat is pretty damn large

T.S. said there are far more
People who have slowly turned gray
Than you ever imagined before

Look at what happens when the light fades away
Mount the steps of this foul conveyance
And let us be about our diabolical holiday

I found myself in the middle of a writhing seance
of tormented spirits in constant retreat
from the light. I swore I’d only go this way once

A voice roared out I smell fresh meat
What’s a body doing on my boat
Get back to the near side friend until you’re in your winding sheet

But a look from my guide froze the words in his throat
the old boat master scowled and turned
And my teacher said better pick up your coat

As the lunatic mumble rose and the water churned
Across the river I saw a smoking rise
Where I knew the devil’s city burned

I squatted down in a corner and shut my eyes
And I listened to the endless drone of endless flies

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Thursday, August 16, 2007

180 : 10/7/98 : Second Thoughts (Canto 2)

I said I’m having second thoughts
to my new companion
Lately I’ve been rolling pretty shaky shots

Every time I come up on this canyon
I think of who has gone before
How they aimed their faces straight ahead and ran strong

As the west wind blows from the shore
How can I measure up
To those heroes who first passed the great door

He said son it’s time to open your treasure up
all the courage and virtue you locked up inside
It’s time to give these little pleasures up

This is about more than your sorry hide
A messenger above your station sent the word
And called me from my sleep to show you on this side

So listen and mark what you’ve heard
‘cause after this nothing will ever be the same
Deal with it now when you’re not so self-assured

Three graces are thinking of your name
And your journey is written above
I’ll get you back to where you came

from my nervous son, back in the light of love
Back in the fields of the Lord
I’m just here to give you a little shove

And I said unreel the knotted cord
Time to cross into the psychiatric ward

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

179 : 10/6/98 : Your Welcome to Hell (Canto 1)

837 ?

In the middle of a nothing life
gone stupid with the day to day to day
I found myself stranded in confusion and strife

I had wandered so far off my way
Distracted by the little here, the little there
Woke with a start and had not a word to say

Of all the dead ends I’d been in this was beyond compare
At last I feel I’ve blundered past return
I turn around, walk up and down and stare

But little as I am the stuff I’m made of’s pretty stern
I got back to my feet and looked about me
As long as I’m alive it seems I’ll make that wheel turn

I wondered how the world was getting by without me
As I pushed on through a gloomy fog
I daydreamed I was a child again and wished the seeker would shout “free!”

Lost in thoughts of escape I carried on my slog
through a world bereft of sense
I pushed on like always; a rolling bouncing little cog

To my surprise I came upon a barb wire fence
Beyond I saw sun and a rise and a tree I knew from long ago
Said I’ll go up there where the fog is not so dense

And maybe if I sit under that tree I’ll know
where I am and where to go from here
It seems farther than at first glance but even so

But as I Iooked for a break in the fence I reeled back with fear
And ugly cottonmouth was lying in my path
Behind a rabid weasel blocked my retreat with a crazy sneer

And high above a crow circled with eyes red as wrath
And called out a hoarse scream full of night
And I said to myself that’s torn it: to the math

So I turned to return to my gloomy plight
When a voice whispered do I date disturb a fellow poet in retreat
Softly, off to my right

And sullen I said who’s interrupting my defeat
And a ghostly man said I’m the one
Who’ll show you fear in the dust at your feet

And I said I know that song you sung
Is it really you my old friend
And he said well well well old son

T.S. can you show me how to get around this bend
That hill over there has got me under a spell
You know stuff, right, you’ve been past this bitter mortal end

And he said son I’m not allowed to tell
About the other side and yet I’ll be your guide in hell.

This song is part of a series loosely based on Dante's Inferno. You can read an essay about this series here. You can read a more general explanation of the origin of these lyrics here

Friday, August 10, 2007

circling satan's icy drain

I've been procrastinating getting started putting my seriously deficient version of Dante's Inferno online. Basically because the transcription of it is so tedious, and the product is so terrible. You may think I'm being coyly modest but I'm not. The whole thing was an exercise in grinding futility. Well, not entirely. It was a good exercise for writing but an awful one for reading. I'll get over it and get down to brass tacks soon.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

178 : 10/5/98 : Queen of Heaven (5th Glorious Mystery)

Who’s on the right hand who’s on the left hand
Looks like you missed the point again,
Queen of Heaven

Who shall be first, who shall be last
the time for all those games have passed,
Queen of Heaven

Who will be crowned with glory?
Who’s the key of this story?
There is no reason to be sorry
Queen of Heaven

Intercede on my behalf
Put a record on the phonograph
Stay with me for one last dance
Queen of Destiny and chance

Queen of Heaven

You can read an explanation of the origin of these lyrics here