From Here

From Here (2011) is a collection of songs that study places and shimmy between East and West, abundance and scarcity, and between taking off and staying put. This album also features a heaping helping of local-crème musicians, including Tom Bianchi, Raleigh Green, Sean Staples, Eric Royer, Dan Blakeslee, and Vance Gilbert.

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From Here (2011) is a collection of songs that study places and shimmy between East and West, abundance and scarcity, and between taking off and staying put. This album also features a heaping helping of local-crème musicians, including Tom Bianchi, Raleigh Green, Sean Staples, Eric Royer, Dan Blakeslee, and Vance Gilbert.

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Honey Locust Suite

Breeze, go ahead and blow through this impromptu stage
between fingers bent on picking till this guitar amp gives way.
I’ll outlast its battery; already though, it’s clear
this coin cup caught more locust leaves than dollar bills today.

More tunes in my pocket than hours left to play
the time and tips keep trickling atypically.
The honey locust leaves, long since yellowed in the trees
finally fall round these tapping feet.

The statues stick around the park and keep the eardrums tuned
into every story yonder honey locust told.
Sure as snow, I’ll have to hit the subway stations soon
when stubbornly, paradoxically, Somerville turns cold.

The Big Man ambles through. He brought the old brass out today
and a split reed he calls broken-in by broken livelihood.
Sax lines and clanging chords sway honey locust leaves.
Somebody flicks a fiver. It’s as if they understood.

Even though the Someday Café long since closed its doors
I refuse to shiver till it’s finally time to.
Tune by tune, the scene turns more difficult to alter
but locust leaves and batteries won’t last as long as I do.

×

From Here

The local folks told me I’d find you there
in the southwest corner of Union Square.
We’re anything but infinite standing here
both posed for passing through.
Mr. Gandhi, you should see my laptop screen
the newsfeeds streaked in smithereens
the tables turned too close to home
the way the crooked stars do.

Some angry god keeps shaking sabers
and making its premise clear:
we are anything but infinite
we're anything but infinite from here.

We’re about to book a trip back to Hyderabad.
The busted follower of some angry god
cased office space, bought hand grenades
for folks like us to fall behind.
I’m a mouse click, maybe two away
from a JFK round trip to harm’s way.
These dragging feet recount the worst case
how it’s first to come to mind.

Some angry god keeps shaking sabers
and making its premise clear:
we are anything but infinite
we're anything but infinite from here.

It’s just too easy to imagine.
Unchecked, anything can happen.
Stephanie’s right, even yogurt-covered raisins
have everything to lose.
Never heard, or fast-forgotten
the gentle ways you softly taught them
they’ll keep the West away with hand grenades
or put them on the evening news.

Mr. Gandhi, I don’t mean to overstay
but I brought a steel guitar to play
a two-step for these troubled times
to trounce through.
Bronzed though they may be
heavy weathered, tired feet
can always use a tune to keep
their steady time to.

Some angry god keeps shaking sabers
and making its premise clear:
we are anything but infinite
we're anything but infinite from here.

×

Prisoner of Fortune’s Lament

‘Twas nearly noon and just as well.
The rain decided to set a spell
so I leapt up from my laptop for a stroll.
Reckoned I could catch some lunch and
take a break from number-crunching
but hunches, lord I know, can take their toll.

Now, I’ve never been a yellow fella.
While I couldn’t find my a black umbrella
you won’t see me deterred by skies still dark.
I ended up in Gramercy
where sidewalks lined with moneyed trees
and swanky pads surround a little park.

Around the park, an eight foot gate
surrounds the green, delineates
where sidewalk ends and privileged grounds begin.
The only way into Gramercy
is if you have some schmancy key;
if you ain’t got the do-re-mi, there ain’t no getting in.

Keylessly, I ventured on
peering in at pristine lawns
and sculptures strewn about invitingly.
Longing for a closer glance
lamenting locked-out happenstance
I moseyed till the gates gave way to mounting entropy.

Inside the park, a lady hollered
toward her unrelenting toddler
as he made his break for the doorway up ahead.
They scampered off and slammed the door.
I couldn’t ask for nothing more.
The doorway bounced back open, so I stepped inside instead.

They didn’t even notice me
I sauntered in so causally
down the pathway to a statue of Mr. Edwin Thomas Booth.
Not too long and not too far
I carefully left the door ajar.
My bases all seemed covered, to tell the truth.

Man, I was glad I ’scaped my day job desk.
Manhattan mists so picturesquely;
all around me, not a sound or soul to speculate
until a band of Brits blew in
awash in bubbling cockney din.
Before I could get a word in, they turned and closed the gate.

Just like that, the lightning blinkin’
got my soggy noggin thinkin’
this perilous trail less traveled-by means trouble.
The Brits they didn’t grasp the matter
failed to bring an eight foot ladder
and damn my Boy Scout readiness, I didn’t have a shovel.

Imprisoned there like fortune’s fools
who knew the ropes and broke the rules
because fences make for awkward neighbors too.
If rains return or cops come ’round
they’ll haul the soaking creeps they found
to upstate clinks the way they often do.

And surely, juries of our peers
ignoring our remorseful tears
would send us to the chamber or the chair
for keyless walks through open doors
to check out statues. Lordy lord
please listen to a sorry prisoner’s prayer.

Nothing happened for quite awhile
just watched the skies and forced a smile
till a groundskeeper ambled ‘cross the scene
dragging keys and garden hoses
to trim the hedges, mind those roses
he rolled his eyes and finally set fortune’s prisoners free.

Now, if you go there, buy a map.
Beware Manhattan’s booby traps.
Try not to venture places where you maybe shouldn’t be.
If this advice you fail to take
then lunchless from your wasted breaks
stay hungry till the clouds clear. Don’t go back without a key.

Stay hungry till the clouds clear. Don’t go back without a key.

×

7:30

‘Twas nearly noon and just as well.
The rain decided to set a spell
so I leapt up from my laptop for a stroll.
Reckoned I could catch some lunch and
take a break from number-crunching
but hunches, lord I know, can take their toll.

Now, I’ve never been a yellow fella.
While I couldn’t find my a black umbrella
you won’t see me deterred by skies still dark.
I ended up in Gramercy
where sidewalks lined with moneyed trees
and swanky pads surround a little park.

Around the park, an eight foot gate
surrounds the green, delineates
where sidewalk ends and privileged grounds begin.
The only way into Gramercy
is if you have some schmancy key;
if you ain’t got the do-re-mi, there ain’t no getting in.

Keylessly, I ventured on
peering in at pristine lawns
and sculptures strewn about invitingly.
Longing for a closer glance
lamenting locked-out happenstance
I moseyed till the gates gave way to mounting entropy.

Inside the park, a lady hollered
toward her unrelenting toddler
as he made his break for the doorway up ahead.
They scampered off and slammed the door.
I couldn’t ask for nothing more.
The doorway bounced back open, so I stepped inside instead.

They didn’t even notice me
I sauntered in so causally
down the pathway to a statue of Mr. Edwin Thomas Booth.
Not too long and not too far
I carefully left the door ajar.
My bases all seemed covered, to tell the truth.

Man, I was glad I ’scaped my day job desk.
Manhattan mists so picturesquely;
all around me, not a sound or soul to speculate
until a band of Brits blew in
awash in bubbling cockney din.
Before I could get a word in, they turned and closed the gate.

Just like that, the lightning blinkin’
got my soggy noggin thinkin’
this perilous trail less traveled-by means trouble.
The Brits they didn’t grasp the matter
failed to bring an eight foot ladder
and damn my Boy Scout readiness, I didn’t have a shovel.

Imprisoned there like fortune’s fools
who knew the ropes and broke the rules
because fences make for awkward neighbors too.
If rains return or cops come ’round
they’ll haul the soaking creeps they found
to upstate clinks the way they often do.

And surely, juries of our peers
ignoring our remorseful tears
would send us to the chamber or the chair
for keyless walks through open doors
to check out statues. Lordy lord
please listen to a sorry prisoner’s prayer.

Nothing happened for quite awhile
just watched the skies and forced a smile
till a groundskeeper ambled ‘cross the scene
dragging keys and garden hoses
to trim the hedges, mind those roses
he rolled his eyes and finally set fortune’s prisoners free.

Now, if you go there, buy a map.
Beware Manhattan’s booby traps.
Try not to venture places where you maybe shouldn’t be.
If this advice you fail to take
then lunchless from your wasted breaks
stay hungry till the clouds clear. Don’t go back without a key.

Stay hungry till the clouds clear. Don’t go back without a key.

×

Little Food Trucks

Little food trucks on the sidewalks
sling street meat for pedestrians
paying five bucks for a quick lunch
beneath the sky scrapers scraping by.
There’s hot dogs and gyros
and falafel and sausages
and the Web says it causes organ failure
too much street meat by and by.

There’s a line at the halal van
every day between 12 and 1
and the shawarma truck right next to it
sits lineless every day.
Is it the red sauce or the white sauce
or is the street meat cooked improperly?
Every seasoned street meat connoisseur knows
that every ’bab stand ain’t the same.

All the food trucks on the sidewalks
smell spicy and they’re open late
slinging street meat as the bars close
slinging street meat for passersby.
And the dudes working at the food trucks
have that crucial piece of business acumen
they know how sauced folks like being smiled at
and shawarma wafting as they stumble by.



Parody of “Little Boxes”
Lyrics by Ryan Alvanos,
Original words & music by Malvina Reynolds
Copyright 1962 Schroder Music Co. ASCAP. Renewed 1990
Used by permission. All rights reserved

×

Mr. Keynes

Mr. Keynes, what made you such a pessimist?
Why did you decide that markets can’t stay free?
Did school kids pick on Maynard until your mother intervened?
You knew all along, didn’t you, about my solvency.

Mr. Keynes, I’d invite you to dinner.
We’d have cocktails and conversation ever so polite
but my dining room’s in boxes, and the kitchen will be soon
because I am underwater and you were right.

Mr. Keynes, you know how scary bears can be
how dismal the sciences we dabble in.
Since assets lack parachutes and my money tree won’t bloom
what’s left to slow down soundness’s unraveling?

Mr. Keynes, my street’s a strip of sale signs.
Second chances only come round every once in awhile.
The banks won’t take to lending till the markets turn their trending
because we all stopped spending like it’s going out of style.

My grace fades, Mr. Keynes. My chipped-away glass
must come to terms with half-emptiness and hard times.
Can’t the long run do a number on these bleak bottom lines?
Will my grave stone call me anything but subprime?

×

Seaside

Too young to be defined by five-figure income
Ankle-deep in ocean and the notion at hand
Ebbing flowing bourbon-brave
Soaking feet and Saturdays
We stumble to the sidewalk and brush off the sand

From kingdom come to seaside
The theorist’s creed the poet’s pride
And four eyes drawing straight lines
Through the tides despite their turning
Praise every blessed mystery
Because we both know how the unseen
Keeps us wiser for the wading and hungry for the learning

What you found was solid ground in the genius of reason
My hands took to the oceans of song-worthy scenes
Now theories and notebooks meet
Like sea and land beneath our feet
As waters wave and beaches bid we amble in between

From kingdom come to seaside
The theorist’s creed the poet’s pride
And four eyes drawing straight lines
Through the tides despite their turning
Praise every blessed mystery
Because we both know how the unseen
Keeps us wiser for the wading and hungry for the learning

Coastal folk we have no dry illusions about seaside
Landlocked but our interests lie in what resides beneath
Wondering waves against the sand
Alas, another clue at hand
We’re born to be informed before we’re worn into belief

From kingdom come to seaside
The theorist’s creed the poet’s pride
And four eyes drawing straight lines
Through the tides despite their turning
Praise every blessed mystery
Because we both know how the unseen
Keeps us wiser for the wading and hungry for the learning

×

Triple Bottom Line

From the NASDAQ of your skin, I’ve been delisted.
The merger of our souls has been declined.
It’s plain to see that your love has been acquired.
I’ve been phased out of your triple bottom line.

From the assets of your life, I’ve been deleveraged.
The c suite of our love will now resign.
From the projects of your gaze, I’ve been outsourced
and erased from your triple bottom line.

It’s hard to say now, how I’ll e’re survive.
It seems as though my share price took a dive.
I was your man until demand got outstripped by supply
and left me plunging from your triple bottom line.

Your bets, it seems, found better hedging elsewhere.
Our strategies must cease to intertwine.
In the futures of our fling, you’ve stopped investing.
I’ve been factored out of your triple bottom line.

It’s hard to say now, how I’ll e’re survive.
It seems as though my share price took a dive.
I was your man until demand got outstripped by supply
and left me plunging from your triple bottom line.

It’s plain to see the marketplace is shifting.
Our org chart has undergone a redesign.
From the headcount of your heart, I’ve been downsized
and phased out from your triple bottom line.

It’s hard to say now, how I’ll e’re survive.
It seems as though my share price took a dive.
I was your man until demand got outstripped by supply
and left me plunging from your triple bottom line.

×

Talkin’ Quantum Beat Nuptial Blues

It all started in Ada, grey and gloomy
when across the drum line marched Shaboomy
paradiddlin’, Rob’s heart up’n thumpin’
Boomy asked, “what, are you crazy or somepin’?”

Rob said, “No, ma’am. I’m a physics major.”

It wasn’t long before Boomy knew
that physicists could be cute too.
There’s a swanky suave a heartthrob brings
but she’s a sucker for simpler things:

like the ability to use “quantum beat spectroscopy” in a meaningful sentence.

With sketches sketched and love songs sung
like sweet nothings in made-up tongues
Rob went off to MIT
to try and trap ions in laser beams.

Poor little guys. It a wonder they can keep a positive charge under such duress. Don’t worry though, the Center for Bits and Atoms has a strict catch-and-release policy when it comes to trapping.

With Rob off and gone to Boston
Boomy went down to grad school in Austin.
Now, some folks favor proximity
but Einstein said, “it’s all relative”-ity.

That’s right. There are five flights a day between Boston and Austin, and Rob would probably be on all of them if he could.

From Midtown rendezvous congestion
To Central Park, Rob popped the question.
Lovers smiling, quantifying complicated calculuses
this-could-work hypotheses seem worth their weight in measured yeses

and they are. Just as long as traditional music doesn’t creep your sweetie out and you both take showers seriously — but not too seriously.

×

Rooftops (for Walt Whitman)

Remember me among your rooftops
where at sunset, one would be a fool to miss the view.
Below, the sidewalks team; Manhattan takes my breath away
and inspires my static pen to move.

Now I’m singing this Song of Myself
thinking maybe I can save this place.
Maybe I’m a rooftop dreamer with too much faith.

Despite my letters, I know what it means to go unheard
wandering this skyline like a savior with no label.
All the while answers sprawl across my lines
only to be swept again, underneath the table.

Now I’m singing this Song of Myself
thinking maybe I can save this place.
Maybe I’m a rooftop dreamer with too much faith.

Now I’m finally forced to set aside my pen.
Oh America, if you would only listen.
Your quiet farmland stands soaked in aftermath
and now my knowing hands must turn and nurse your dying children.

Now I’m singing this song to myself
thinking maybe I can save this place.
Maybe I’m a rooftop dreamer with too much faith.

×

None the Less

Mine will never be a two-legged life outside
Oxford’s walled-in Magdalen beneath a sleeping bag by the hill.
Lick the hand of the shivering man who always shares his breakfast
and does what he can to keep me from the cobblestone chill.

To breath this air and make my mark
like barkless heaven’s blessed
saving face in time and space
my place is graced, none the less.

Across the street, a statue stares at me with stone lips long since silenced
by angry crowds and flaming stakes and a violent April day.
No, I’ve never burned for anything I’ve uttered
so statue-like, I’ll bide my time wondering what I’d say.

To breath this air and make my mark
like barkless heaven’s blessed
saving face in time and space
my place is graced, none the less.

Heard someone speak once on the sidewalks about the California sunshine
knowing I’ll likely go grey and die before I ever leave.
Let the sunrise hit the spires like a million other mornings
leaving California coastline to dreamers of different dreams.

To breath this air and make my mark
like barkless heaven’s blessed
saving face in time and space
my place is graced, none the less.

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