Capital for Guns

Some days I wish
You could see me
In my southern life.
I know you think you’re educated;
And sure you know what’s right.
I’ve seen every pretty cruelty
Of wealth and of right.
And southern nations
Share what it’s like

When the northern military comes
With capital for guns and debt.
The hemispheric lines are drawn
And the rich are coming for revenge.
And loans like shiny things
Draw us in, but they come with strings
Their boom is our bust.
Another world is possible I know
For in the South I trust.

Last year, we had a revolution
At the ballot box
Our first peasant leader of Indian blood.
The rich sought to secede
They love our country only when
Our country they can run.
I fought them in the street
They knocked me to my knees
And I looked up as I breathed
And saw the models on the billboard
All were blonde.

When the northern military comes
With capital for guns, and dreams
Which they’re selling
On the street again
And someday we’ll accept it seems.

That’s the way it is with shiny things
They draw us in
Then pull our strings
And disappear and rust
Another world is possible I know
For in the South I trust!

Calling all ye faithful to repair
In our southern hemisphere
We work, we lay our lives bare
But capital is scarce
And change is rare.

Some days, I wish you would see us
And maybe change your life.
Change your politics before we slip
Beneath your rising tide.

When the northern military comes
With capital for guns and liquidity
And they tell us how our lives could be
If we’d only let them run our economy.
Loans like shiny things draw us in
But we cut the strings; and we’ll do what we must
Another world is possible I know
For in the South I trust.
Every day another dawn, come on now
Another world is possible I know . . .

No Hay Pueblo Vencido

I have no time for reality shows; Anacostia’s outside my window.
In La Paz, people prove when we get on the street we can still make things move.
Hey perhaps, perhaps – today will be our day. Perhaps, perhaps – otro mundo es posible.
Perhaps, we’ll ask you join up in the fray . . .

Agents of the state are here standing on our throats; while everyone in Washington
wears the same winter coat. Why must I still walk alone why must I test my mettle?
Well I’m still shutting down like it’s 1999 in Seattle. And I see the improbably long march
left to go; and we’re rag-tag and unlikely I know. But don’t you look to me for no sorrow.

You’ll find, you’ll find – no defeated people. No hay, no hay – pueblo vencido.

I’m patient now, and all because of loss. See I’ve fought for dreams and I know
how much they cost. Your irony is cheap. Follow me to Freetown and see if they agree.

Puede ser, puede, today will be our day. Puede ser, puede, otro mundo es posible.
Perhaps, I’ll ask, you get out of the way . . .

She fell on the bridge, silent; bleeding from the throat
While everyone in Washington wore the same winter coat.
Why must I still walk alone, why must I test my mettle?
Well I’m still shutting down like it’s 1999 in Seattle.
En mi parroquia luchadora El 23 de Enero
Enfrentamos los poderosos y su dinero.
Pues póngase de pie compañero

You’ll find, you’ll find no defeated people
No hay, no hay pueblo vencido.

To Make a Rebel Behave

These are the people
Of childlike races
So the generals say.
This is the culture
Of familiar faces
The prisoners play.

I was one of the young prodigies
Conceiving a new day.
My imaginings
Drew the stern hand
These are the ways
To make a rebel behave.

These are the ways
To make a rebel behave.
The prizes to the pious,
And to the rebel the shame.
Prostrate; silent.

They will gather us in the stadium
Drug us and drop us from planes.
Dismiss and disdain the cadence
To make a rebel behave.

These are the ways
To make a rebel behave.

Power is all about memory
And the writings of history
And if we fail to get ours in . . .

I’ve a photo of you praying
On the day of the invasion
The one keepsake I’m saving
Against the day
They make a rebel behave.

Now the problem power faces
How to occupy the spaces
Of the memory we’re making.

Today the poets dream a nation
From memories we’d forsaken.
Our conquered imagination
All the ways
They made a rebel behave.

These are the people of childlike races
This is the culture of familiar faces
Now the lines of dissent we’re tracing
Disappear
These are the ways
To make a rebel behave.

All is hope. All is hope.

Caught in a Lie

I feel like I’ve seen so much
24 karats or maybe years.
I’m sure I seem out of touch
With who you are, but give me my orders, I’ll fall in
Fall in.

I know you well enough
To know you’re never well.
And I’ve held you close enough to not care.
I’m not the only one
Who’s tried to make you whole.
And I’ve no illusions, only intentions
The best that we can bear.

I
Won’t be caught in a lie.

You know me well
I cannot lie to you
But maybe myself.
I’ve sold it well.

I caught myself in a lie.
I complicate you, and that’s the part
That I like least.
Love thyself, but who should thyself love?
We all want a piece of you
But you only want peace.

I
Won’t be caught in a lie.

Statues of Simón Bolívar

August 2004
Tucupita, Caracas and Mérida
Venezuela

Ever since the end of us
I’ve been talking, talking
To statues of Simón Bolívar
Who’s never asked me wrong or right.

And if I’d only surrender
To his clean swept marble steps
I could sleep before Simón Bolívar
For 360 more nights.

While I’m waiting for a word.

I’m waiting for a word.

Ever since I last stood before Bolívar
I’ve been working at a desk until I
Barely recognize my life.

Wrestling with the legacy
Of pointed words and staring eyes
And staring far too long in a mirror
In a harsh judgmental light.

Y me hace falta; me hace falta
I am missing something every night.

I’m looking for a light.

We’ve been quiet far too long
Your unquiet mind that questions right and wrong.
But if you’d hold me just this once and mean it
Under statues of Simón Bolívar
I could believe in you again.

In the dark I’ve fumbled
Past & present, future pain
Come clarity before Bolívar
I make the choice to change my life.

I’ll be in the plaza
Collecting courage for one more fight
I cannot count on talking to statues of Simón Bolívar
Statues of Simon Bolívar
If I’m to have you in my life.

And I don’t have the answers; I don’t have the answers
But I’d like to look together if we might.

I’m looking for a light
Together tonight.

Elizabeth La Paz

Elizabeth
I believe in many things
But none here today.

Dance
With extravagance
Elegant at night.

From a high hotel
I watch colonial churches
And write our lives in a line.

For I’m looking from La Paz
At 12,000 feet
And it’s dry and cold.

Elizabeth
Don’t we tire
We could write our entire lives in a line.
A single line.

11th floor
To the cobblestone
Lights in archways below.

I am so removed
At this altitude.
I’m looking from La Paz
We could write our lives
We could sacrifice
We could set the price
I know…..

We could write our lives in a line.

I was made
For darker days
A future vision
Things fall apart.

Remain unchanged
Four point restraint
I’m in opposition
And permanently marked.

We could write a life in a line.

The singer’s job
Is to entertain
But an artist tries to teach.
And the listener’s job
Is to listen well
To words as well as beats.

Elizabeth
I cannot focus on the tedium
Creation beckons me.

And Elizabeth
I suspect
I’m becoming more
Than anything we’ve seen.

Hey Washington

March 30, 2007

On the eve of war we marched half a million strong
But she and I weren’t quite getting on.
She said something’s come between us
But it’ll be OK
When we get to Washington, Washington.

The storm marked the march’s end
That February and
The trains could not take her home.
So we danced in the drifts
But I said something I cannot recall
And lost her somewhere in the snow.

I might fight for her, knowing my mistake
Just to show her we could change, people change.
I might ask her to try again today
But she wed a better man
So there’s not much I can say.

Hey Washington, make me a better man
Its 3 years I been gone, I’ve been gone.
Hey Washington, make me a better man
This time I lost someone, lost someone.

Am I coming home?

In my time out west I witnessed beauty, I guess
But I still walk alone.
And I’ll seek purpose in the city
From Shaw to U Street
Through Washington, Washington.

On a vent before the White House
Lying in the streets
Ancient men who might as well be me
Their tattered coats tell the tale of contrast in a country
Sleep the soul of America in Washington, D.C.

Hey Washington, make me a better man
It is 3 years I been gone, I’ve been gone.
Hey Washington, make me a better man
This time I lost someone, lost someone.

We need dignity, some way to stand tall.
Without love, I’ll find another call.
I should hand out blankets to my brothers on the mall
Who sleep under names on the Vietnam wall.

Am I coming home? Not at all.

Hey Washington
Hey Washington
Hey Washington, make me a better man
This time I lost someone, lost someone
Washington.

Dom Helder Camara

I wrote a call to subversion
In the margins of my sermon
In a service last Sunday.

Losing faithful to the purging
Losing lives to coercion
This was never God’s way.

Now this Evita, I haven’t seen her
You lied to me Argentina
But I won’t do the same.

I’m underground in my nation
A theology of liberation
Live to pray another day.

Killing time in the Southern Cone!

These are the front lines
The junta high crimes
I’ve a right to speak my mind
But the AAA knows where to draw the line.

A vacant garage turned to torture
I’m disappeared; they earn a fortune
Selling children of the dead.

It’s high time I introduce ya
Nuestra fea guerra sucia
Unrecorded until yet.

So tell the story for tomorrow
I’m Dom Helder Camara
I’m the future of the past.

Por ahora, Por mañana
I’m Dom Helder Camara
And I won’t be the last.

El curo del Cono Sur!

On the front lines
The junta high crimes
I’ve a right to speak my mind
And you can kill me but you’ll never keep me in line.

Sundays

I miss you most on Sundays
In the evenings
In the evenings.

When I face the week alone in a panic
And I hate it
And I’m fading.

‘Cause I’ve lost a bit of time
I ought to have spent giving.
And I could miss my life
Working over living.

The hour’s late and I should really hit those books
But they’ll be here tomorrow.
What I should really do is listen for a while
To understand your sorrow.

Tell me, tell me sister
What do you believe in?
Tell me, tell me
But do not speak from reason.

Tell me, tell me sister
What do you believe in?
Tell me, tell me
But do not speak from reason.
We only take these jobs
Out of fear of getting lost.
I think we only write these books
Because we’re afraid to talk.

Wait up for me I bed a little longer
I’ve one more song to write
And then I
Will turn out
The light.

Siddhartha on His Raft

From 14 on
I listened to the river.
And voices still are strong
In the currents.

I hear chorus, I hear clash
So I can’t listen in class.
Yet in my peace I find
I’m Siddhartha on his raft.

Like Herman Hesse
I suffer long for peace.
And maybe I find less
The more I seek.

I can’t relate
So I wait and think and fast.
And in my peace I find
I’m Siddhartha on his raft.

Hey Siddhartha! Push that raft!

I know
You think
I don’t see you at all.
I’m a distant wolf of the steppes,
And oh so critical.
I hear, currents, chorus, chaos, clash
The unity comes through.
See, I see more than most
And I see you
I see you.

Today
Words and thoughts
Are my craft.
And in my peace I find
I’m Siddhartha
On his raft.

I think and wait and fast.