MURDER AS AN ART

It’s always midnight in my heart
Only the alleys have known my joy
For sometimes I have experienced a bliss that is so exquisite it can’t be verbalised to anyone
Not even to the few who would care
So I have walked it away
In the dark
Along empty city side streets                                                                                                             We bloom on cue then disappear from view                                                                           Such is life                                                                                                                                           It’s a pity Oscar Hammerstein didn’t write the script for our lives
He would’ve written it just right                                                                                                       It would’ve had its highs and lows, some humour, all the boring bits cut in Philadelphia And ending on a note of hope
Instead, here we are
What’s it all about, Alfie?
The Winner Takes It All?
A Change Is Gonna Come?
Were they just 45s from our youth?
Is this the little boy I carried?                                                                                                     Some disappointments and betrayals can never fully be washed away                               We live in a world where just about everything we’ve been told for the past 50 years has been a lie and the opposite, in most cases, is true                                                                    The shadow brokers are keeping the public confused by a daily avalanche of complexities, creating a terminal dose of anxiety and fear                                                           All designed to make us give up, surrendering our power and responsibilities                  To flee to the safety of watching mindless TV to a laugh track of mostly dead people           Or turn up the doof doof music and tune out                                                                         Those brave souls that come forth and tell us the truth get ridiculed by                             The card carrying experts who translate the news for us                                                         Because we are no longer capable of thinking for ourselves                                               Here’s some breaking news –                                                                                                       There is, in fact, no news anymore                                                                                               Just opinion pieces                                                                                                                               If the smear campaign doesn’t murder the brave truth-tellers                                                 Then the lone crazy gunman will be wheeled in again to create another convenient myth
New leaders are thrown up on a platform of change
But usually it’s just a case of
Same car, different driver
Evil does indeed exist
And those who have sold their souls
Worship at the alter of a false God –
Money
But all it buys them is emptiness
And if there is an eternity
What a hell it would be to spend it in the state of regret
Arrogance comes before a fall
And the weather report suggests a hard rain

(C) Frank Howson 2017

MY CONVERSATION WITH GOD

My birth was a bit messy from recollection and ever since I have been flaying around like a man drowning in gasoline. People have come and gone in my life, some leaving an impression, others facial scars, but still, I wouldn’t change it even if I could shoot them.

Life is funny isn’t it?

Sometimes you win and sometimes the cards are stacked against you. Still, it keeps us occupied doesn’t it? I mean, otherwise we may turn into animals and attack each other thinking there was no purpose to it all. But the good news is, there is. I can say this with all certainty now as only a few weeks ago I was stirring my pot of porridge when I saw God’s face on the surface. He said unto me, “Listen, go forth and tell all the fucking morons that I have spent a fortune on this human experiment and have nothing to show for it. Other than one lovely Jewish boy and he doesn’t count because he is related on his mother’s side. All I ask is that you scumbags make a little effort and be nice to each other. It’s not brain surgery y’know? Oh, and your porridge is ready.”

I have since taken to the streets spreading the good news that God is alive and still loves us. And that we need to be kind to each other. In return I have been beaten, spat upon, cursed, betrayed by friends, had my sex tapes made public by Billy Bush, been blacklisted by Hollywood, been lectured by Robert DeNiro on morality, and treated by the media worse than Donald Trump. It could’ve been less kind, though. I could’ve been treated like Joan of Arc and roasted like a chicken as a public entertainment. Thank God I wasn’t a woman.

These days I keep to myself and have stopped eating porridge lest I get any more messages from you know who. I mean, I myself, even, don’t know why God chose me to be the bearer of his good news although he does have a history of choosing flawed messengers. Life is complicated enough without all that.

Father, forgive us we know not what we do.

(c) Frank Howson 2017

MONUMENTS IN THE SAND

The poet took a machete and cut his way through the field of golden daffodils coughing up blood from too many cigarettes, cheap whiskey  and women gone bad. His field of dreams had been burned by looters years before and the only place he felt comfortable with now was a field hoed by blood, tears and guts. He had learnt the hard way that this was the only place a poet could write the truth. That the ugliness outside will always drive you inward.

He was well aware that there was no escape clause in his contract and no safety net for those who braved the high wire. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in God, they just weren’t on speaking terms since the Almighty had conspired to take Ruby from him in such a messy way.

He thought it was fitting that his best prose was written on toilet paper. He no longer craved awards or acknowledgements because he’d worn his heart out in the wanting when he was hungry and young, during that long drought before the rains came. Now, the only public he had was himself and the voices inside his head. Some belonged to long gone friends who, in his mind, would give him a slight smile and a nod when he wrote something that was real.

This was his domain now. Building monuments in the sand and watching the tide wash them away, lost to everyone but those it really mattered to.

Then he’d wander home to rest in the field of devastation to dream of beauty. After all, that was his job.

(C) Frank Howson 2017

GOODBYE BLACK, HELLO BLUE

The street beneath my feet
Has never let me down
Unlike the people
Who think they own this town
I tried my luck
But the cards were cut
When I complained
I was told to shut up

Goodbye black, hello blue
What happens next depends on you
I miss the world I thought I knew
Goodbye black, hello blue

I gave myself to you
But then you lost your nerve
I was your army
Always ready to serve
You cut me off
And you burned my flag
I surrender
In peace I pack my bag

Goodbye black, hello blue
I'll spend my life forgetting you
I'll miss the dreams that won't come true
Goodbye black, hello blue

So I'll be off
Until who knows when
I'll see you in the stars
Until the broken heal again

Goodbye black, hello blue
What happens now we can't undo
I'll miss the love I never knew
Goodbye black, hello blue

(c) Frank Howson 2017

Title suggested by Chris Thomas.


IN BLOOD AND TEARS

There's nothing more I need in a woman's eyes
It's a lonely, hollow, comforting feeling
Finally knowing that
I am empowered and can no longer be conned
With the promise of something wonderful 
That will ultimately be paid for
In blood and tears
I now appreciate all people without any agenda
Other than to laugh and share some joy while we are still here
And at the heart of it that's all that matters
We hide behind so many veils in our youth
Playing roles that can't be sustained
Even the greatest actors can only summon up King Lear
Once a night
Free at last
I thought
God almighty free at last
All I wanted was peace
And some joy
And someone to share the good times with
But each candidate brought their carriage of problems
Their hurt caused by another
Their suspicions caused by another
Their jealousy caused by another
With no one to take it out on but me
So what should've been joyous times were ruined
Laughter replaced by tears
Kindness viewed with cynicism
Until it was turned into something nasty
That could only be understood by them
And this was called a relationship
Others would deem it a prison
Some, hell
It reduced life to a death
And made fools of those who had craved it
I still believe in some things
But less by the day
I wonder how much of us must whither
Before we pass away?
I am not a killer
And yet the faces of several people who have used me
Flash through my mind every day
I am considered a kind man
By some, a strong man
And yet I could kill a handful of people without a thought
Maybe most of us could
With a clear conscience
As we would write it off
As a public service
Our act would save other good souls
From being exploited and then
Thrown away to be useless
Having given them mansions
So that we could settle down on someone else's couch
While they rewrote history to alienate the ones you loved 
The most
Yet they weren't charged with your murder?
But perhaps justice is yet to be served
And if we took it upon ourselves to render it
Would the government not erect statues to us?
They would've in bygone days
Some people don't deserve to be called human
They don't act it, they don't think it, they don't care
They love to destroy other people's lives and values and then 
leave others to deal with the mess
They are spiritual vampires
Why should they be allowed to get away scott free
Sipping their white wine
Repeating other people's opinions
Only to laugh
And destroy another day
Another life?
I missed my calling
I should've been Wyatt Earp
or Bat Masterson
Riding the range
With the power to take or give life
Where and how I saw it
But instead of a badge and a revolver
I was given a suit and a tie
And an expectation of what I had to achieve
In a gentleman's world
I failed
Because of those I let into my life
with their promises of "This will be fun" and 
"I will always love you" and 
"Thank you so much for your kindness, it won't be forgotten"
But it was by the next day
Which brings me back to the gun
And why I am lost
Between the cracks of right and wrong
Watch your step
Night is falling
I'm considering becoming Jewish
Just so I'll know where my home is



(c) Frank Howson 2017


photograph by Vanessa Allan.

 

THE COMEBACK KID

 

Harold Davies had finally made it.  Well, he’d been famous for a lot of things in his life, coming in and out of fashion over about 40 years. But now he was back with a bona fide smash.  It was familiar ground but had eluded him for long enough now to be truly grateful for its unexpected return.

Early in your life this sort of success feeds your ego and you expend that on women who don’t really care and parties that all merge into each other until they resemble a Fellini nightmare. Pretty soon the money goes and so do the people who pretended to care.

Then you vow that next time success comes you’ll be so much wiser. But you never are.

Harold had learnt much. In fact, people came to him to ask for his wisdom in the hope that it would solve the problems in their lives. Harold tried to explain that he wasn’t born wise – in fact, he’d been an idiot – and that his wisdom was based on having made every mistake in the book during his life. But unlike most, Harold had learnt from those mistakes and this is how wisdom is acquired.

He had regrets. He’d been married three times because he was a hopeless romantic and so eager to find true happiness he kept on committing to the wrong women. Some of them were the most beautiful women in the world until you got to know them.

He came to feel that there needed to be a rehab for romantics. Women weren’t Madonnas and men weren’t Messiahs. We were just people stumbling around in the dark carrying all the baggage of our childhood and shattering other people’s lives in the process of sorting it out. Unless you were one of the lucky ones. Harold, clearly, wasn’t. He had a friend who’d been married for 40 years to the same woman and that man and his wife were as in love today as they were when they first met. Every time Harold saw them it brought a tear to his eye and he used to always tell them, “Never let each other go. You don’t realize how hard it is to find what you’ve had.”

Harold suddenly had fame and money again and beautiful women were once more noticing him and laughing at his witty conversation. And although he could’ve gone home with any of them, it didn’t matter anymore. His best was behind him and he was smart enough to know it. He no longer had the time to go through the motions. Every second now counted. This year alone seven of his friends had passed away so he was constantly being reminded of how precious time was.

He had nothing to spend his money on anymore. Maybe a few new clothes, some CDs, books he’d never find time to read, dinners with friends, and paying the rent. That was it. He could no longer be tempted by wild women, or booze, or drugs, or parties. They were all illusion and it was too painful to wake alone.

There were now plans to do a documentary on his life, even talk of being honoured by the Government, Lifetime Achievement Awards, etc., etc.  But it didn’t matter anymore. Sometimes Harold was sad that some of these things would’ve meant so much to him when he was struggling and still believed, but now he had no one to impress anymore. And realized how hollow it all was.

Projects and offers were coming in daily and yet all Harold wanted to do was go home to his little apartment that he loved and put his feet up and watch mindless TV. He’d come to believe that the most precious commodities in life were peace and joy. And joy came from finding beauty in the most simple things in life. A walk in the park. The smile of a child. A bargain on the shopping list. Running into an old friend. It was certainly not found in regret, or fear, or beating yourself up over things that could no longer be changed.

He had forgiven those who had conspired to damage his career. And in the process he has forgiven himself for playing the game in the first place.

He was happy to go now. He’d lived through the greatest period of music ever – the Sixties – had met many of his idols, and no longer saw the lasting value in anything new. He’d been ruined by giants whose like we wouldn’t much see again. The pain in being too smart is that you realize all this and know you’re damned to a wasteland that doesn’t cater for you anymore.

Yes, Harold’s true friends were so pleased that he had made a comeback and was now the flavor of the month again. And Harold was pleased to see those who were pleased for him.

But there was a price for looking too long into the abyss and reporting to the public what it was like. A price for feeling things too deeply. A price for loving a son who’d been fed lies and now shunned him. A price for loving with all your heart. A price for being kind to those who betrayed you. A price.

And, as the Scriptures say….”If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.”

Harold appreciated his new found success. But not too much. He had been taught some time ago that the road to God is through humility.

Sometimes when he thought about the wasted years and all the great things he could’ve done he felt angry but mostly sad for that young man who’d been shut out of the industry at his prime. Oh, the things he could’ve done. But now it was gone. Gone, gone, gone. And this was all we had. And in everyone’s life there is the same story.

While Harold was busy making his dinner he received  a phone call from a prestigious magazine that wanted to do a feature story on him. But he declined. The editor was so stunned he phoned back to ask why Harold would refuse such a sought after honour?

All Harold could say, in his cracked voice that reflected his broken spirit, was that it was “Too late. Too late.”

The editor was still talking when Harold hung up the phone.

 

(c) Frank Howson 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Room Number 8

I hear the trumpet sound

But is it of the sky or ground?

It’s hard to find without a link

When the world’s forgotten how to think

And women dress for Babylon

To glow and bloom and then are gone

The devil moves you like a pawn

You’ve been played like that since you were born

We misunderstood the Judas kiss

And now it’s come to all of this

Where sex is love and hate is fine

And to tell the truth  is to cross the line

Where information is at our fingertips

And yet ignorance springs from our lips

We kneel to say our prayers

And pray to God that someone cares

But just like that tale of Ruth

We get persecuted for the truth

We never found the promised land

It was a myth like the helping hand

So we freeze in our winter of discontent

Where there are no replies to our letters sent

I live in a house of lonely men

Where you relive it again and again

They say when it finally makes sense

We’ll be reimbursed for all our expense

But while Billy and Joey think it’s a crock

I sit staring at the clock

There’s a Pilate waiting to judge us all

And he’ll wash his hands and try to stall

Because it frightens us to the core

To know the roles we’ve been cast for

But maybe one day when I’m through this phase

I’ll call you to talk of old days

And not to take anything you don’t want to give

Or to tell you how to live

But just to rest my head on yours

And tell you I love you because…

 

(c) Frank Howson 2016