America

I wanna go to Atlanta
Where the dogs get letters
And the cell phones kill you
But the girls treat you better.

I wanna go to Boise
Where the grass is blue
And the heads stay up
Cause the sky has a view.

I wanna go to Chino
Where the asphalt sprouts
And all threats are empty
And Hollywood has its doubts.

I wanna go to Detroit
Where the wild life roams
And the cars are whores
And the death count always grows.

I wanna go to El Paso
Where the law wants to fuck me
And nothing is plentiful
Cause there is plenty of nothing.

I wanna go to Fargo
Where the snow can cover lies
And Kiss is still number one
Cause Detroit gone and died.

I wanna go to Green Bay
Where Lombardi is the king
And transportation sucks
But the Internet is widely free.

I wanna go to Houston
Where you never feel young
And the burgers eat your face
And the air steals your lungs.

I wanna go to Irvine
Where the sidewalks are clean
And they talk in binary code
And they sell you your own heartbeats.

I wanna go to Juneau
Where bridges lead to nowhere
And anybody can talk shit
And wink instead of stare.

I wanna go to Kansas City
Where you can always live safe
And leave doors unlocked
And stand with feet in two states.

I wanna go to Louisville
Where the metal is like thunder
And Catholics are Confederate
But it doesn’t feel that Southern.

I wanna go to Memphis
Where music began to live
And Elvis shat to death
And grizzlies don’t exist.

I wanna go to Nashville
Where I’ll bring my guitar
And have Justin record me
And fuck wannabe country stars.

I wanna go to Olympia
And say hi to Calvin Johnson
And chill below Mt. Rainer
And maybe get heavy thoughts.

I wanna go to Portland
Where my best friend retired
And throw rocks onto rocks
And drink beer at a fish fry.

I wanna go to Quincy
Cause I hear Boston is a bore
But I wanna see the Celtics
And be safe while I see, for sure.

I wanna go to Raleigh
To visit my big sister, of sorts
I haven’t seen her in months
Now she has a new family, of sorts.

I wanna go to San Francisco
I wonder why I’m not already there
If I had more than pocket lint,
I think I’d already be outta here.

I wanna go to Tulsa
Where the skyline dips and curves
Just like the rhythm and blues
And the girls and booze all blur.

I wanna go to Urbana
I wanna go to Champaign too
And maybe I’ll go high gravity
Cause one college town isn’t two.

I wanna go to Virginia Beach
It’s less than two hours away
And I don’t go to beaches often
Some think I sleep during the day.

I wanna go to Wilmington
Probably the best place for drugs
But I don’t want to buy any drugs
I just wanna seal what got cut.

I wanna go to Xenia
So I can imagine Stephen King
And Harmony Korine teaming up
To write the script for Burger King.

I wanna go to Ypsilanti
Where another sister almost went
But she was too young to know
About the fast track to young debt.

I wanna go to Zion
It doesn’t matter which one
They’re all the Promised Land
And they all got plenty of guns.

Anti-Blues

I thought I made the right decision
When I said no to what I had become accustomed to,
And I still think that’s the case,
Because I feel the freedom I felt
When I was happy, when I was free,
When I had the streets to walk and smoke
At the same time.
And at the same time, I could think
About what I was going to do
On my own,
Without the future
And without fear
And what those sorts of things would cost me.
But mainly, I felt good about what had happened
Because now I was able
To look forward to Friday.

Dirty Fingernails

Lately, I’ve been counting stars
And playing blast beat bands
Cause she never got into that sort of stuff.

Lately, I’ve been sleeping strange
And I’ve been avoiding most calls
But I never really got into that sort of stuff.

I’ve been digging
New things again—
Yeah, I dug them out.

I’ve been digging
New things again—
Yeah, I dug them out.

I feel a pressure in my head
And my neck down to my back,
Maybe from the hours I’ve been working
Or
Maybe from making assumptions.

Epic Man

I saw an epic man
On the subway platform—
His shoes were untied,
And he could care less.
It was quarter till ten
And I didn’t need to go
Anywhere or do anything
For an hour or so; so
I walked the extra blocks
Instead of transferring.
And I got an extra coffee
Despite being low on cash.
But if I’m gonna make it
Today or the next, I guess
I might need even more.
Don’t scorn my decisions—
At least I can make them.
Forget that I question
Each and every one
Each and every day.
I wish I could be epic, man.

Et Al.

There were herds
Of educated folks,
Young and old,
Just phoning it in
Back from where I come.

And what I wonder is:
What have they learned,
What have they asked,
What have they found,
Through all their conquests?

I drink expensive beer at home
And cheap liquor at the bar
And I still wonder why I go out at all.
And I still wonder about et al, et al, et al.

Forget It

I can’t see straight
When I first wake up.
I skip meals cause I’m never hungry;
And cause I need the money.

I think of old shit now,
Especially when I’m high.
But I am through with nostalgia;
Man, that shit’s so depressing.

Why do you bring it up?
All that old, old shit.
It’s even worse in conversation;
Cause you’re never over it.

I’m sorry, so forget it.
I’m sorry that I’m missing
And I’m missing what I need to deal;
But I’m okay now; forget it.

Fuck Your Life

I shot a man in cold blood
Cause he did not beg forgiveness;
He only begged my pardon
And that goes against principle.

It was raining in the woods
When I went to bury his body;
And I thought I heard his wife
Crying as I packed my car.

I turned to see only darkness
And some phantom shadows
Of witnesses to the justice
That he could not understand.

When the video cameras came
Along with the reporters
And detectives and the rest,
I was the one asking questions.

I asked why they were behind,
When they were gonna catch up,
When they were gonna get it,
Or when they’d finally give up.

I offered them coffee and donuts
Cause I was brought up polite;
And I thought maybe it was true—
Maybe cops really do like that shit.

The herd rolled off after an hour,
And I never heard back again;
I think they knew what I knew
From the first time we talked.

I do what others fear or denounce;
It’s a wild world we must survive—
If you take from me, my friend,
I will come back and fuck your life.

Hair Wars

Ponytails on dudes might be the worst—
It’s like a microwave dinner on your head…

I’m not trying to start a fight;
Feel free to defend yourself,
But I’m just gonna stand here
While you make your way
To the frozen foods section
And pick up some of those
Bob Evans breakfasts
That start your days.

Wait, receding hairlines with bangs might be even worse—
Nicolas Cage isn’t as cool as his voice makes him seem…

Hello New York, Hello New Year, Hello New Work

I can’t forget the face
I have thought of every day
For the past three years.
I never wanted to,
But for some reason,
I thought it could help.
And I thought a bigger city
Could help help.
But all that this gridded body
Has taught me
Is that distractions are just easy
Selfish methods of destruction.
Nowhere is better than anywhere,
And there is no moving on.
There is only simple phony fuckers
Trying to move up or move in
On the big ideas
That lead to your false faith
And fears and self-preservation.
Oh, and what about the surrounding rivers
Trying to drown?
You better let them or leave.
That’s what they have been trying to teach me.
But I don’t think I’ll give in that easily.

This January, I hope to be cleansed.
The space where I will spend my days
Will be far colder than Jersey,
Or the place where I currently reside.
And that’s okay with me.
I have been thinking more clearly
These days than probably any day
Since I was fourteen.
The best advice I could give myself for the future
Is to stop avoiding myself
And start avoiding females.
At least until it’s safe again.

A painting a day keeps the real world away.

I Didn’t Mean To Offend You With My Words Last Night

Don’t expect anything from anyone
Unless you have something to offer in return.
That’s the way it goes,
But I guess I still think it’s worth hoping.
Either way, it’s worth having worth.
Are you worthy enough to offer dignity?
I hope you gain an extra set of hands
To carry your worries in the rain,
So that they don’t slip away for good,
Or for worse,
Which cannot be determined
If none of us choose
To place value in value.

Forgive me for my words,
And I will forgive you for your reception.
And if we can meet somewhere in the middle,
Like maybe Philadelphia,
I will give you my hands.
And whatever other reasonable requests you may have,
I will meet them,
In Philadelphia,
Or elsewhere.

It’s okay,
It’s okay,
It’s okay,
It’s okay,
It’s okay,
It’s okay,
It’s okay.

Let’s move to somewhere with bigger mountains
And learn to accept the moments when we’re not ourselves.

In One Ear and Out the Other

Those drums that make you go insane
And the strumming of detuned guitars
Combined with Dracula organ chants
Are all too much.

In one ear
And out the other.

In one ear
And out the other.

In one ear,
And out the other.

It’s like Africa on our side of the Atlantic
And I’m telling you I don’t wanna leave any longer
And I’m telling you it’s the truth this time
I’m telling you.

In one ear
And out the other.

In one ear,
And out the other.

In one ear,
And out the other.

It’s not give and take when you lose control
You can’t control the things you say to me
But I’m not upset anymore, I swear
I just go insane.

In one ear
And out the other.

In one ear,
And out the other.

In one ear
And out the other.

Just Visiting

I went down to Hazelwood
For the first time since I've been back
And I ate apple blackberry pie
And talked about war times
And made the matriarch happy,
Of course.

I went to see The Buffalo
For the first time since I had a car
And we smoked a mango joint
And laughed at an ethnic caricature,
Correcting young children's vernacular,
Of course.

I went to the dollar theater
For the first time since the addict
But I haven't talked to her in years
And I hear she's got Hep-C now
She was too naive with her needles,
Of course.

I went to a karaoke bar
For the first time since Vermont
And I saw an older black man
Sing “Jeremy” by Pearl Jam
And it was better than the original,
Of course.

Looking Forward and Getting By

Four weeks ago,
I finally came home
To healthier meals
And could afford cigarettes again.

Three weeks ago,
I got pink eye
And a dumb tattoo
But I’m a problem solver.

Two weeks ago,
I stayed in all week
And talked to myself
Cause I’ve only got so much time.

One week ago,
I sold all my clothes
And walked solo
For the first time in years.

One more month
And I’m on the road
Through the mountains
To the oldest city I’ve ever known.

Never Coming Back

When I showed up with a six-pack
And you told me you wanted twelve
I said I was tired of your greed.

And just because I don’t have a car
And you’re stuck feeling lonely and foreign
Well, don’t blame it on me.

You’ve accused me more than once
Of some actions I’d never commit
Outside of your own definitions.

I’ve made amends with the ones I have
And even with the ones you’ve claimed
Just to appease your perceptions.

I’m through with the old through and through
I’m out on the outside, yeah way far out
And I’m never coming back.

No Compass

I thought I lost you
With the humid winds
That forbid me from the most beautiful country I’ve seen.

But you’re with me again now
And if you care, you won’t forget
The way we can all weather and wither easier than we believe.

On and On and On and On

Shut the fuck up, man—
I’m tired of seeing you
Everywhere I go.
Every party,
Every show,
Every sidewalk that I walk—
You’re always there.
You’re always there.

I don’t wanna hear it;
I don’t wanna bother;
I don’t care to hear
Any more of your bad breath lies or excuses.

You’re always haggard;
You’re always ragged—
Everywhere you go.
Every party,
Every show,
Every sidewalk that I walk—
You’re always there.
You’re always there.

I don’t wanna hear it;
I don’t wanna bother;
I don’t choose to know
Any of your new news or public updates.

I thought I left you
In May of last year
But you’re always there.
You’re always there.

You think I don’t know
What you’re up to
But I’m outta here.
Yeah, I’m outta here.

Outsiders In

There’s this group of tarts
That everybody is talking about.
I don’t get it, but it’s okay—
All my friends are stumped too.

But they’re cover girls
And they charge covers
Just to hang out—
Makes sense, I guess.

One face on a guitar amp,
One on a floor tom,
And one on a few instruments,
Cause she’s kind of round—
Good one, Mike…

The leader has droopy eyes
And she kind of creeps me out;
The hot one used to say what’s up,
But that was when I had a girlfriend;
And the round one—I dunno? Ask Dave…

Routine

Every day
I wake up to die
Every day
I’m ready to die
Every day
I wash my face
Every day
I dry my eyes
Every day
I tie my shoes
Every day
I drink coffee
Every day
I take pills
Every day
I make believe
Every day
I stare at words
Every day
I write some words
Every day
I remember the last
Every day
I reconsider
Every day
I reconcile
Every day
I retire.

So Brute

How could I have come to this?
It’s 3:32 in the morning
And I’m still thinking about your last response,
Even though I know it’s useless.
And all my friends say you’re abusive
And all your actions prove it.

I haven’t listened to this much Jawbreaker since high school.

Survival

My bones ache when I am surprised
With unexpected realizations.
And without creation,
I cannot survive.

Survival is my highest priority,
I have come to realize.
So I try to make my stiff body limp
And wait under the insufficient blankets.

The Blues

As I’ve gotten older,
I have learned the importance of the blues.
They are the simplest truths
Of my United States.
They have taught me
To accept safety
And reject structure.
I don’t want to turn out like my idols.
They all let me down.

The Importance of Being Earnest (2009)

I was listening to The Microphones again
When I realized how much I’ve listened to them
Ever since I was old enough to understand
And I realized how music makes me feel, sure.

But I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anything like
The sound of Phil’s voice and the layers of sound
That alternate between one speaker and the other;
And the way it gives me goose bumps all over
And the way it makes me face those things I’d rather not
And the way it makes me want to move out West
To some place with mountains and forests and rainstorms
That force you to stay in despite the new paths you could take.

I had gotten to one of the instrumentals on my play list
When I finally started to miss you like I used to.

I hate the nostalgia these songs bring out of me,
But I accept it like I do everything;
In a Las Vegas sort of way.

But ultimately, these songs go deeper.
They hit new nerves with each listen—
And that’s exactly what you have to do;
You have to listen
Cause it’ll come to you, it will!

It’s like that scene in White Men Can’t Jump—
Where Sidney explains to Billy the difference
Between listening to and hearing Jimi Hendrix.
See, Sidney listens and Billy only hears;
And if you’re only going to listen to Phil,
You won’t ever understand
How earnestness is more important than you think.

The Long Road Home

I knew it was gonna get weird
When the dog pissed on the speakers.
But you never truly know the depths
Until you invest yourself entirely.

Well, we rolled down to the flats
To be generously given free lessons
On parallel parking and adult respect
By a mean drunken college dropout;

And when we got to the first bar,
Money was ready to get into trouble;
And I could tell he was chillin’
Cause he was eyeing up sad eyes.

But we got out of there just in time
And headed over to my territory,
Where we met a med student
Who fell in love without effort.

After a shot of rap liquor and a beer,
We headed down the hill for more;
And said what’s up to some Yinzers
And some burlesque dancers too.

The other patrons were persistent
Like greased zombies or something—
And there is only so much to take;
So instead, we took the long road home.

Theism

Why is it
That the preachers always
Find the doubters?

They can smell me,
I swear.

I would stop bathing,
But then I’d be a hobo
And I’d preach my own gospel.

I wanna be free;
I have no fear.

Why is it
That the preachers always
Sting like angry hornets?

They can smell me,
I swear.

I could start praying,
But then I’d be an asshole
For giving false hope in faith.

I wanna be free;
I have no fear.

Things I’ve Done Wrong

What is worse than saying the wrong thing
Other than saying nothing at all?
You have a pretty filthy, flighty knack
Of flipping coins or shifting circumstances
Or simply discarding contexts
For things you see as far more important.

You are an impervious strain with this
Slight way of judging every motherfucker
With your open mind, thus avoiding
Cross-examination by any motherfucker;
I ask is it your childish charm and wit,
Or the fatigue placed upon your company?

Despite your manipulative manners
And posturing innocence,
I cannot deny the warmth I feel
Every time I’ve come back to you
Nor the wreckage I’ve caused myself
With all the things I’ve done wrong.

This Thing You Call God

Every person I’ve known
Owns their own set of flaws;
And I like the way it comforts
And I like the way it gnaws,

Which brings me to asking
You about owning no flaws;
And why I would ever want
To know this thing you call God.

When You’re Single

When you’re single,
You can cancel any plans
And not have to explain yourself.
You can not deal with notes
About what meds to take when.
You can smoke cigs
And porch sit all you want.
You can order meals
And not have to share them.
You can eat ice cream
With all your favorite toppings.
You can smoke weed
And fearlessly explore, guilt-free.
You can make mix tapes
Without any love songs on them.
You can play air guitar
To Dead Boys in the mirror.
You can ride in old trucks
With bipolar rural punk dudes.
You can light shit on fire
Down by the river and relax.
You can go night swimming
And not worry about death.

What You Warrant and When

“What do you take me for?”
I always liked that line,
Because I saw the truth
And conviction in asking
That of hecklers and hedonists.

Because when you think about it,
There aren’t very many things
To take offense to in this life.
But when someone questions
Your character or honor, well…

I guess I just think of great stories
Of great men and great women
And great stands against great tyranny
And all the great disappointments
That always come to those who try.

Wishing Off Secrets

I am trying to understand from where your blood pumps—
But in order for life to make sense for the both of us,
You have to help it make sense for me first.
I know that’s selfish of me,
But I’ve been far more selfish in the past.
I’ve been trying to tell you how I’m trying
To become more and more selfless,
But we both know, for a while there,
I lost myself.
And that’s not what either of us want;
Is it?

I want you to tell me about yourself
And your new life—
The one you excommunicated me from.
I want to be redeemed.
Hopefully, I will catch some light
Through the leafless trees;
And the next time I see you,
You will want to give me the manuscript,
Or the attempted prologue,
Or at least a half-assed version
Of what you tell all my friends,
But not me.

I have apologized probably as many times
As I have made you laugh your little girl laugh.
But last Sunday,
When I called you and probably woke you up,
I had just gotten done pissing behind some school,
Or some crusty building that looked like one,
Near Hunter’s apartment.
Well, that was the first time that I knew I was sincere.
And I knew I was sincere,
Because that was the first time that I knew what I had done.
And there wasn’t much I was hoping for while I was waiting
And waiting for you to pick up,
Other than for you to pick up.