Sunday, July 23, 2017

Love is touching souls

I remember that time you told me, you said
"Love is touching souls"
Surely you touched mine
Because part of you pours out of me
In these lines from time to time
You're in my blood like holy wine
You taste so bitter
And you taste so sweet
I could drink a case of you
Still I would be on my feet, 
I would still be on my feet. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Three Best Films

...of the 21st Century

1. Wonder Boys - there is no contest, no disagreement, no room for dissent, hesitation or equivocation. Dylan won an Oscar for Things Have Changed. Case closed.

2. High Fidelity -  Another first person narrative, this one from inside John Cusack's character, and his path from love to love to love to real love; a path we have all been on.

3. People Like Us - The protagonist dies before the movie begins. In the aftermath, a story of two unknown siblings leading parallel lives of desperation, until a playground brings them together.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Summer of '42

If you don't know why this is here, then you don't know me.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Early one mornin' the sun was shinin'
I was layin' in bed
Wondrin' if she'd changed at all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like
Mama's homemade dress
Papa's bank book wasn't big enough
And I was standin' on the side of the road
Rain fallin' on my shoes
Heading out for the east coast
Lord knows I've paid some dues
Gettin' through
Tangled up in blue

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out west
Split up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walkin' away
I heard her say over my shoulder
We'll meet again some day
On the avenue
Tangled up in blue

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the axe just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I was looking for to be employed
Workin' for a while on a fishin' boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind
And I just grew
Tangled up in blue

She was workin' in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept lookin' at the side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I's just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me, Don't I know your name?
I muttered somethin' under my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces
Of my shoe
Tangled up in blue

She lit a burner on the stove
And offered me a pipe
I thought you'd never say hello, she said
You look like the silent type
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the thirteenth century
And everyone of them words rang true
And glowed like burnin' coal
Pourin' off of every page
Like it was written in my soul
From me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on
Like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue

So now I'm goin' back again
I got to get to her somehow
All the people we used to know
They're an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenters' wives
Don't know how it all got started
I don't know what they're doin' with their lives
But me, I'm still on the road
Headin' for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point
Of view
Tangled up in blue

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Who did he touch, who did he know?

I hear the voice
that claims my name
Invisible being
one and the same
Who is this man
Where did he go
Who did he touch
Who did he know?

The end comes closer
with every word I write
as every deep breath
drifts into the night
then hangs above
staying out of sight
I feel its shadow
I sense its bite.

Kiss me deeply
hold me tight
say that you'll love me
all through the night
skin so soft
smell so sweet
blessed the lifetime
that we would meet.

Love is a warmth
she felt for me
a face and a touch
never meant to be
Passion noble
intimacy sublime
nothing but air
strange vision of mine.

Regrets overflowing
no longer proud
song effervescent
never heard aloud
rain against windows
falls from a cloud
fleeting lifetime
of love disallowed.

Elusive dream
I keep alive
in melodic echoes
of no compromise
serene blue water
distant no more
the past disappears
behind the last door.

Lift me up slowly
through the faint light
across the dark borders
that hide in the night
reaching for something
so misunderstood
wishes I wanted
a wish that I could.

I hear the voice
that claims my name
Invisible being
one and the same
Who is this man
Where did he go
Who did he touch
Who did he know?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ceaselessly Into The Past


The world only exists in my eyes, I can make it as big or as small as I want. I'm not sure what I'll do. I want to go places and see people. I want my mind to grow, I want to live where things happen on a big scale and someday I want excitement; and I don't care what form it takes or what I pay for it, so long as it makes my heart beat. I'm going to find somebody and love her and love her and never let her go.


I looked at her the way all women want to be looked at by a man. It's hard to sit here and be close to her, and not kiss her. My heart beat faster and faster as her face came up to my own. When she saw my face, our eyes met and everything was all right, everything was wonderful, she knew I was beginning to fall in love with her. The helpless ecstasy of losing myself in her charm was a powerful opiate. So I waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then I kissed her. At my lips' touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.


Beauty has got to be astonishing, astounding. It's got to burst in on you like a dream, like the exquisite eyes of a girl. She had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life, that understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that at your best you hoped to convey.

All she wanted was to be a little girl, to be efficiently taken care of by some yielding yet superior power, stupider and steadier than herself. She wanted to crawl into my pocket and be safe forever. We slipped briskly into an intimacy from which we never recovered. "Think how you love me, " she whispered, "I don't ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember that somewhere inside me there'll always be the person I am tonight.  Let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me." 


I didn't realize it, but the days came along one after another, and then two years were gone and everything was gone. I was gone. My dream must have seemed so close that I could hardly fail to grasp it. I did not know that it was already behind me. Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away. The beauty of succulent illusions fell away from me. There are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice. 


I have traded the fight against love for the fight against loneliness, the fight against life for the fight against death. I realized that what I was regretting was not the lost past, but the lost future, not what had not been, but what would never be. The loneliest moment in someone's life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly. 


Life is so damned hard, so damned hard. It just hurts people and hurts people, until finally it hurts them so that they can't be hurt any more. That's the last and worst thing it does. Everywhere we go and move on and change, something's lost, something's left behind. Long ago there was something in me, but now it's gone. I cannot cry. I cannot care. That thing will be back no more. All the bright precious things fade so fast, and they don't come back. 


There's only one lesson to be learned from life...that there's no lesson to be learned from life. So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. 

Acknowledgment: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Kiss

Karen was the roommate of a girl I was dating during my first year as an attorney in Atlanta. She was a former Bunny at the Atlanta Playboy Club before a fire closed it down in 1975. She was a stunner, the kind of woman that attracted mens eyes with laser like stares. Karen was beautiful, sensual, sexy, and in her own sweet way, innocent, almost naive, the kind of woman who got a pass in life, just because of her looks. Karen was also a kept woman, working as a part-time escort/girlfriend to a very wealthy and generous gentleman who lived in Chicago. Karen's job was to be his eye candy companion and sexual partner whenever and wherever he chose. It paid well and about every other weekend she was on a private jet, or via a first class ticket, off to some exciting city or exotic destination. There was one problem with this set up. Karen drew men to her constantly not so much by choice, but by the law of natural attraction. Some women can put out an air of flirtation just by how they smile at the world. That was Karen and it was why she needed a friend for her time in Atlanta, a companion to keep her from being alone, to protect her from being constantly pursued, to keep the wolves at bay. That's why Karen had a roommate, Carolyn, and Carolyn had me.

Karen and I took a liking to each other immediately. I wasn't rich, or urbane, or anything like the pick of men she had in her days at the club, but I was a nice guy, low key and funny, smart, professional and mostly unthreatening. Plus, I was dating her roommate, posing no romantic threat to the good thing she had going with Dr. Chicago. At least so long as I was with Carolyn.

My dating Carolyn wasn't to last. In a sudden and unexpected corporate shuffling, her company, American Express, relocated Carolyn from Atlanta to Denver. It all happened in about a week, and Karen was left living by herself, alone in a big city full of hungry men. Karen and Dr. Chicago were faced with a new dilemma, find Karen a new roommate, one without a gaggle of men hanging around her, or move Karen to Chicago. They chose the latter, but the move needed some time to make happen, so who would keep Karen company in the interim?
"What about Carolyn's old boyfriend, the lawyer you said you liked? Does he know about our arrangement? "
"Yea, I like Allan, he's a really nice guy and has never come on to me. I'd like that." 
I willingly became Karen's safe male companion and her social life until she moved to Chicago. When she was out of town, I had my own social life. A young lawyer with a red Fiat convertible in Atlanta in the mid-70's, where dating Southern women was casual, easy and with no strings attached. When Karen was back in Atlanta, the two of us hung out. I accepted my role and played the part very well. We were both careful enough to not cross the boundary of being just friends. That might take the shine off of the expensive gifts, jewelry, travel, the good life she was living, transient as it might be. It was fine with me, I enjoyed the company of a beautiful woman. It was a win-win.

Eventually, Chicago beckoned, an expensive downtown penthouse was much more convenient for them both. Our platonic relationship, which had become so much fun and fulfilling for us, was coming to an end. It really doesn't take long to get to know someone, to develop feelings, to start to think about someone way too much. In any other circumstance, I was so out of Karen's league that I would be lucky just for the opportunity to walk by her on the street, notice and stare at her, just like the men who walked by us while we were together, trying to make eye contact with her, glances that she would never return. Karen was a loyal and faithful pretend girlfriend to me.

In a short time we built a surprising emotional bond that transcended our unwritten agreement.  We got to know each other well, having fun discovering the best parts of each other. Karen wasn't just beautiful, she had a kind and seductive heart and in her own way, was just an innocent bystander to the life she was living.  As for me, I was above all, a nice guy, intelligent and unassuming, unlike any of the men she had been used to. I kept my hands to myself and came to like her for what she was inside as well as outside.  I wasn't chasing her, just enjoying my time with her, treating her with respect and curiosity, not just the goddess she was used to being treated like. In return, she let her guard down with me, I was no threat and without any carnal desire for her, at least none that I let her know about.

We made a special date to spend her last night in Atlanta together, just dinner at nearby restaurant and a walk back to her apartment. When dinner was over, we walked slowly back to her place, with not a word said about the good-bye waiting for us just ahead. Before long we found ourselves at her front door. Karen and I had never kissed, it just wasn't allowed and from the start it was understood that any trappings of romance between us was off limits. But I wasn't about to let her go without one show of the affection for her that had been building up inside of me for the past couple of months. She was leaving. There was nothing to lose.

We were standing at her door and as she turned to say good-bye, and before she could say a word, I leaned in and pressed my lips against hers. It felt so right, so natural, and before I could pull away, Karen kissed me back. We held our lips together way, way, longer than we intended. I finally pulled back just enough to see her eyes, now moist with the realization that her time with me had come to an end, that she was never going to see me again. We stepped apart and stared at each other, maybe for a second, or two, or three.
"Allan, what are we doing?"
"We're saying goodbye."
Sometimes things just happen. It's like seeing a person you never saw before, you can be passing on the street you look at each other and for that moment, for a few seconds, your eyes meet and there is a
kind of recognition that you both know something, but then the person's gone and it's too late to do anything. You remember it because it was right there and you let it go.

I kissed Karen because if I didn't, there would never be another chance. I kissed her because I felt something special for her, and she had to know it. Words wouldn't do. When she kissed me back, it was her way of letting me know she was beginning to feel something too. Maybe I wasn't so out of her league after all, that there was a part of me she was attracted to, she wanted, that she would not find in Dr. Chicago, that she may never find with anyone, anywhere. Maybe that scared her, maybe for once in her life she felt desire for a man for the right reasons.
I turned and started for my car. Karen turned and put her key in the door, opened it and stepped inside. I heard the door close behind me and heard the latch lock from the inside. I walked down the street to my car, got in and just sat there, my eyes now moist with the realization that my time with Karen was over.

Four decades later, as I write these words I'm still standing with Karen at her door, kissing her and being kissed back. What a time that was, and now with all that has gone by, the lives that she and I created independent from each other, all of the people, places and things that have happened to us, I remember that night so clearly, what we said, what we did, what we felt.

She was right there, and I let her go.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Homeward Bound

"I received this long, handwritten letter from a guy who lived on some island in South Carolina. I remember it was like this long catharsis, flashbacks of his life in song, my songs. He went through every concert he attended, starting with one he went to with his first date ever while in high school in 1966 at the University of Detroit. Artie and I still remember that gig, it was one of our first big venue college concerts and we were scared shitless. When the curtain opened and we saw a full house, Artie and I knew something had changed for us, we were real singers now and that too scared us shitless. This guy wrote about how we was on his first real date and how by the end of the concert, he said that, "she had fallen in love with me...or maybe it was you.," But it didn't matter to him, he wrote something like, "it was close enough." To know you have that kind of effect on people, while it is flattering, it's something I never intended. I'm just a songwriter, a singer playing my songs and all I ever cared about back then was entertaining. He went on about the songs that he said affected his life, something I hear a lot. Then he ended with remembering the last concert he went to, in Atlanta in the late 80s. It was at another college venue, Georgia Tech. Artie and I had both gone solo back then, maybe for at least 20 years. I think it was on our first Simon and Garfunkel reunion tour. This guy's father had died a few weeks earlier and he wrote about how he just lost it when we did Homeward Bound, one of the encores on those reunion tours. His words, his intense emotion, he took me back to my youth, my mom and dad. He touched me. I thought to myself, "We're even." - Paul Simon, Interview in The New Yorker, 2003.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

I saw you

I saw you
When you were not looking
Searching my eyes
As I have so often searched in yours.

Empty gazes
Sad and lost
In the fading light
Of our last goodbye.

Times remembered
Endless affection
Now your touch
Forever gone.

Two memories
Ablaze in sorrow
Two hearts
Invincible no more.

I saw you
When you were not looking
Leaving me
As love fell from view.