Archive for the ‘lyrics’ Category

This mini-essay came out of a writing exercise (the first one in “The Practice of Poetry,” edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell).   It’s a collection of exercises written by poets.  The first one is from Ann Lauterbach and she just says to write about an early experience with words.    She says the purpose is to “trigger your initial experience with language” (3), and to link experiences with reading and writing.  I did the prompt and thought it was something worth archiving in my blog. I may keep working with it and better shape it–polish it, but here it is in its rough form. Also, I may have written something like this on the blog before because it’s a memory I come back to a lot. Whatever. Enjoy.

Each Sunday my parents took me to a meeting with their Christian fellowship. We met in an elementary school.  I was younger than six and too young, at least for me, to wonder what was the function of the room when it was not used for the Sunday meeting.  The room was simply where we went on Sundays before I went off to Sunday school; it was the place where I must sit still and endure three songs, sharing, and a prayer.  I recall a brown carpet, folding chairs.  The room was narrow and there was a hallway with a staircase nearby.  Sunday School was up these stairs and in another room that was small and also brown and had lots of bookshelves.  I was too young to wonder what kinds of books these were and I don’t know if I was old enough to read.  This is the very fact that makes me think that in this memory I was too young to read.  If I could, I would have been more interested in the books because I am pretty sure I have been obsessed with books since I knew how to use them.

Our church was never called church but called “fellowship” and our services were never called services but “meetings”, which now strikes me as a bit cult-like, but really, the gesture was meant well; the grown ups did not want to align themselves with the unattractive aspects of how Christianity had evolved over the years.

We began each meeting with singing; these songs were not planned out beforehand but requested on the spot from fellowship people.  In other words, we sang what other people felt like singing. It was democratic. We used a songbook somebody in the fellowship put together by numbering songs and sticking them in a folder with a table of contents.  (These folders were definitely brown, though the other brown details I am unsure of.  It could be that because these folders were brown that I see this entire memory in different shades of brown).  The lyrics were typed on an old type writer and I believe ridden with typos, though I didn’t notice this yet because, again, I couldn’t read.  Most of the songs were hymns, popular hippie christian songs (a crust of bread in a house of peace is worth much more than the finest feast), or songs people in the congregation wrote.  My mother had a song in this book that I would hear many times before I knew it was hers.

So, we were singing.  It was right before my father prayed for the kids to go off to Sunday school–or as I later joked, “prayed the kids out of there”–and one of the songs, called “Yahweh,” had an eerie tune.  I took interest in darkness even as a toddler and I tended to prefer songs set in a minor key.  I still prefer them.  In the song we sang, “Though I walk through the fire, I will not be scorched or burned.” I realized what the song was saying and thought about them somewhere along the lines of: whoa. shit.

I was sitting next to my Sunday school teacher, Claudine (a Swiss woman who was the mother of my best friend at the time), and I asked her what those words meant.  Why was the speaker of the song walking through fire (and the sea in an earlier verse)?  Wasn’t that dangerous?  She asked me to bring it up in Sunday School.

I don’t remember what Claudine said about it to the other children.  Undoubtedly, something about God’s protection. I don’t remember who else was in that room or what the other children said.   I probably said a lot.  I talked a lot then in class as I do now.  All I can remember is that I understood that the fire in the song was not a literal fire.  I think this was my first time understanding that language can be figurative, that language can have layers, that it can be used in different ways to connect to people.  In this case, an image: walking through fire unscathed.


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In my Spanish class, we did an exercise to help us remember how to use adjectives (aligning gender and number), and so we’d get a list of nouns and would have to describe them.  Pretty simple.  One of the words was “lago” or lake, and everyone, it seemed, wrote “húmedo,” or wet, and the profesor cracked up.  He said it was never appropriate to write that the lake was wet, because the lake is made of water.  Not even in poetry would we use this description.

In church, Sunday, the worship team (I wasn’t singing this week) led a song “I want to be where you are.”  The lyrics popped into my head this morning (because these songs get in your head like what).  The chorus goes: “I called, you answered/you came to my rescue and I/I wanna be where you are.”   It’s a pretty song, but to sing “I want to be where you are” to God is like calling a lake wet.  We can’t be where God is not.  Not in my experience, at least.

I just read the story of Jesus calling Matthew (perhaps this is why the song popped into my head, though that story is about Jesus calling and Matthew answering and the song is the other way around), and I’m amused that after deciding to follow Jesus, the next place Matthew goes is home, to throw a party for a bunch of ‘sinners.’  Jesus calls Matthew, and the next thing you know, he’s partying with him.  Maybe this verifies that there is no place where God is not.

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Another, another song

Short Term Fella

Every guy on this street is a short term fella

talkin’ all macho, struttin’ around

there ain’t nothin’ that’s sweet ’bout a short term fella

booked the next plane outta town

Ain’t no place on this earth for a short term fella

the city of angels, least of all

nobody’s of worth to a short term fella

pretty girl like you should be standin’ tall

Keep your daughters away from a short term fella

he’ll just filla with hopeless misery

don’t be tempted to play with a short term fella

find a better way to chase your dreams

Sister, you ain’t no ghost

and he’s just passin’ through

it don’t mean he should pass through


Nobody got time for a short term fella

pretendin’ he’s got no home, no family

sister, don’t take a dime from a short term fella

there’s no love in this world, isn’t free

there’s no love in this world

that isn’t free.

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Yet another song

So I don’t lose it.

Intellectual Dilemma

Maybe there’s no concrete evidence in history

to reinforce what comes to us in dreams

but what if every fairytale reveals a simple song

that whispers through the atmosphere for us to sing along

through every thunderstormand hurricane it sings.

Where’d all are time go? What are we waiting for?

Where’d all our time go? What are we waiting for?

Did you ever think that life begins when we admit the mystery

beyond our hesitant and colored minds

Maybe one day we will take the risk and say we truly want to grow

and admit there must exist a wealth of things impossible to know

but knowledge calls and we who seek will find.

Where’d all our time go? What are we waiting for?

Where’d all our time go? What are we waiting for?

Maybe there’s no answers in all the books we read

and cathedrals are not holy after all

and sacrifices will not bring redemption to our door

our broken hearts the only things that matter any more

(we may stumble but we’ll fly after we fall–)
Where’d all our time go? What are waiting for?

Where’d all our time go? What are we debating for?

What are we debating for?

What are we debating?

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