In the Aegean

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For Dad.

In the Aegean,
life’s worth being.
In the Aegean,
the saints  keep you believing.
You will know all that is divine.

In the Aegean,
I saw a dolphin
from my uncle’s front porch;
it was my childhood vision.
That dolphin jumped and I got high.

In the Aegean,
you can smell charred octopi
floating on the bluest tide;
squeeze a lemon on your appetite.
The squid are dripping from the clotheslines.

In the Aegean,
Telemachos milks the goats,
checks if there’s an egg to coax,
before he tends to the fishing boat.
His cats all follow him to the sea.

In the Aegean,
you can take a nap at one,
take the time to be in love,
and swim under the ancient sun.
Join hands and dance all through the night.

In the Aegean,
I saw my father cry,
calling for his mother’s ghost,
like she got lost over the Turkish coast.
His mother died when he was five.
They were so poor, but he survived,
in the Aegean.


Wild City

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Wild city, all your windows have eyes.
Wild city, what do you see tonight?

Wild city, tell me what I should feel.
Wild city, whose secret will you reveal?

Wild city, before I tell you good-bye,
I want to be your lover;
please take me for a ride.

You were my sunshine.
You were my rain.
You were everything I feared to lose,
but never gained.

Tonight the avenue is so beautiful.
The yellow moon is hanging full and low,
like a traffic light,
telling me I have to go.

Red Pants Lament

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I’m sorry
that I couldn’t make your show.
I was on the F train
when I decided not to go.

A girl just like you
was smiling at her boyfriend’s phone.
They were both wearing red pants;
and they made me feel so old.

I got out at West 4th,
instead of going back to Queens.
I felt like the straight man
in an endless Halloween.

I heard you rocked it,
and that they want you back for more.
Those boys from Brooklyn
keep on knocking on your door.

Straight Life

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The straight life is getting me down.

Thank God for the dirty people;
they save the day.

I’m going to get a drink downtown.

Thank God for the lonely people;
they save the day.

It Was My Last One

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What do you do about the pregnant lady in a fur coat?
Do you give up your seat, or do you just let her stand?
She’s a killer.
She’s a mother of life.

What do you do about the girl scout who cusses out all the time?
Do you call her out, or do you just buy her cookies?
She’s a criminal.
She’s just a kid.

What do you do about the homeless man who wants a cigarette?
Do you give him one, or do you just go your own way?
It was my last one.
But he aint got twelve bucks.

You’re Doing Fine

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If you can make a song
out of a car alarm,
then you’re doing fine.

If you can ignore
that you’re always gonna be poor,
then you’re doing fine.

But some people can’t relate.
They’ll set up a mother fucking rake
on your face.
Just like Tom and Jerry.
You’ll fall down a manhole
on your roller-skates.
And that shit hurts.

Jackson Heights

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This is a tiny homage to my neighborhood, Jackson Heights.

This song and the others I’ve posted so far were written during a song-writing exercise: to write 14 songs in 28 days. This was fun.

Taco stands lined up under the belly of the 7 train.
Colombian women filling tight blue jeans don’t look like your magazines.
In Little India, the women in the saris will never speak your name.
37th is a walk in heaven if you’ll let it be.

Oh, Jackson Heights,
I keep coming back to you,
your alien point of view.

Oh, Jackson Heights,
what am I gonna do
on Roosevelt Avenue?

Men praying for work to pick them up
on the crossroads of 74th.
The Scorpion produces drunks who’ve had enough,
but they are the honest sort.
The gay men crowd as the sparks of the 7
rain down on the dirty street.
And tucked away in the co-op part of town,
young families drifting to sleep.

Oh, Jackson Heights,
what am I gonna do
on Roosevelt Avenue?

Oh, Jackson Heights,
I keep coming back to you,
your alien point of view.