I ran home from night school
                Where I ate pencils for hours
To lock my door and watch Carmela
                I broke into a sweat on my neck
Slobbered like an ogre to pass
                My driver’s test

And I never graduated,
                Never went naked in a graduate robe
With the toenails she painted pink
Instead I rode
my bicycles in many Italian races              
                Only to watch Carmela give her face
To a thousand other faces

Vulgarities are red in a mouth—the raised red glass
                A kiss sealed together with rubber
                A kiss from a stranger
will get a raise
While you wait for the love you can light with matches
Love you can’t know from praise.

And I wait for another race to put me down
                Not ever knowing the first one’s fate
                And I race Carmela in my mind
And carry her cross from time to time
No matter how many years she’s late.

–begun 1991, finished 2021

‘Funny Drunk’

From Salon de la Guerre’s 2018 album, Yipano.


You put the juice on the table

You put the spoon deep

In the soup

You watch a sun that’s been angry all day

Put its anger to bed,

In the purple sea.


It’s a different kind of struggle


You say it’s more than a rose

Four thousand years ago

They pierced your nose

You were ready to marry

That’s how the Bible story goes


And now the father Abe

Don’t know what to do

The bride’s got a nose ring

And also a tattoo


The dreams of the fathers

No longer within

The values they taught

Just a picture on skin


A memory for those

Whose values will never win


The minute you met her

On the gypsum colored street

You’d lost favor in gold

Lost the flavor in meat


You saw she had a ring

And you know he had one too

The father loves your woman, son

But he gave her to you


To pass his ideals

to his blood in the sand

And then far away he flies

Not knowing where they land

Paradise Dropped

Remember, Republicans: Some lie you heard or repeated in church last week about Donald Trump’s fake victory in 2020 is almost certainly going to inspire the next Timothy McVeigh. I hope it doesn’t, but if it does, and people die, including children, ask if it had anything to do with your cowardice, ignorance and pride, or your inability to separate morals from identity (and your always amazing inability to know the difference).

It’s a week of false equivalencies: When right-wing rioters infiltrated the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of the presidential election results, and Main Street conservatives at home said it was no big deal because Black Lives Matter protests last summer led to looting and rioting in American cities. We should remember that BLM was fighting against racism. Its doctrine was not violence. There are plenty of videos showing activists condemning the looting. The movement in essence asked that the Constitution to live up to its promise.

Right-wingers, on the other hand, were trying to destroy the Constitution by overturning a fair election. Very different.

But there are practical reasons for these false equivalencies: If you can brand your opponents as baby killers, looters and rioters, you no longer have accountability for anything you do. You’ve given yourself permission and broad template for any moral transgression that suits you, including death threats against public servants, violence against public health defenders, libeling of rape victims, … for your past support for illegal foreign invasions, torture, and now, evidently, even against treason against the U.S. and its form of government. Conservatives do not care about baby killing (see Sandy Hook) or civil disorder (see the Bundy standoff). They do, however, like the power those words give them to pursue their selfish interests. It’s a gateway drug to the sociopathy they refer to as freedom.

Dear Conservatives

Could it be that you’ve started to build most of your belief systems around every utterance of a cult leader, a man who just tried to overthrow the U.S. government, a man accused by 26 women of sexual assault, because most of your other beliefs up until now turned out to be too fragile and poorly thought out to hold onto in the first place? You’re starting to fit the model of the people who joined the NXIVM group a little too closely.

Ted Cruz In Hell

Thoughts on Ted Cruz’s attempt to protest the certification of electoral college votes that would put Joe Biden in the White House, using a specious argument that since Republicans don’t believe in the truth of the votes, there must be an alternate reality:

There is no third option when you’re pitting truth against non-truth, Ted Cruz. There is no compromise value between a fact and a lie. Those trying to fix reality to incorporate their lies are living in their own hell and asking us to burn with them.

Bring an Open Mind to a Broken Heart

Salon de la Guerre’s 25th album, Bring An Open Mind to a Broken Heart, is now available on Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, and other platforms where music is still sold.

The project started as an experiment–to see if I could use country music instruments to play microtonal music. In other words, I wanted to meld Gram Parsons and Harry Partch. I even bought a lap steel guitar to try out my hypothesis that something new and wonderful might result.

As I progressed, I learned a couple of things: One, instruments associated with country music such as the banjo and lap steel guitar can hurt your ears if sampled and played in rapid succession. And then I was reminded of a golden rule of music, which is that you shouldn’t let a bunch of fuzzy sound effects get in the way of a good song.

The result is an album of arty country experiments sitting jeek by chowl with a number of more conventional country numbers and lap steel performances. It’s not exactly what I’d intended, but I still think a lot of it came out sounding fresh and new. I hope you agree.

As always, the album was composed, produced, arranged and performed by yours truly. That’s me playing the lap steel guitar, banjo, acoustic guitar and keyboard, while Apple GarageBand’s software provides string, bass and drum backup.

The cover art work was created by my longtime friend Corey B. Sanders.

You hold up the window to capture sky
You hold it to capture blue
It’s somebody else’s morning there
And it’s getting ahead of you

The night still moans her labor
As she put in her e-string
Her menopause is moody
And her bones are brittle things

And her calories she’s counting
And she does another plank
And the morning is a picture
That you keep inside a tank

And you’re going to finish that novel
But the words just won’t come out
It’s about a boxer who’s beaten
They knocked his molars out

And you could either take the stimulants
Or hear that country song
You know when you take either
That you’ll feel just how you want before long

She said when the old song touched her heart
She felt again like a child
And it made me smile to set her free
And see her feet turn wild

Cause the purest love I can think of:
When we set each other free
And each of us ask the hardest question:
“Will I ever come back to me?”