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.
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.
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
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
Let me break the news to those who haven’t awakened yet to the terrible reality of politics. There is no Left or Right anymore. There is just the craven lust for power and to keep the globalists happy in their bid to create a New World Order. By the way, this vision of an Utopian world may not include you or I, unless we make a heap of money rather quickly.
Of course the Left Wing Parties will still campaign on the pitch that they’ll raise taxes so that us little folk will get looked after but after they’re elected the bundle made out of increased taxes won’t trickle down to us but will be squandered on incompetence, stupid decisions, and their campaign to be re-elected. Or have I missed something?
The Right Wing Parties will run on a campaign of strength (usually meaning starting a new war somewhere and raining bombs on ordinary people like us who have no idea what the fuck is happening), business acumen, cut taxes (so us poor people have more money in our pockets for luxury items like bread), and will then proceed to squander money on incompetence, stupid decisions, and their campaign to be re-elected. Sadly, I haven’t missed anything.
My dad was a staunch Labour man all his life and was so far to the left he may as well have been a Communist. He had an intense dislike for bosses, police, the Royal Family, priests, June Allyson, Prime Minister Menzies and anyone he thought was a “big hat, no horse.” After several drinks he’d want to start a petition to have a statue erected to Ned Kelly. Dad had lived a tough life losing his mother at the age of two and then being given up, with his two brothers, to relatives to bring up. He’d been denied much in his life including parental love and struggled all his days to show the great love he felt to those he cared about most. I don’t think he’d have much time for the Chardonnay sipping new age Left Wingers. But that was him. And it was a different world. A slower, simpler place where people, if you were any good, did the right thing regardless of the cost.
But politics, nowadays, is mostly a game. The system rarely throws up someone who stands for anything other than getting elected, and if it does, that naively principled person will either be crushed under the wheels of the machine or stabbed in the back by colleagues eager for the spotlight. And therein lies the problem. The ego. Candidates want the top job for the wrong reason. General Ulysses Grant was a shy man who drank excessively not only to go into battle but in order to face people. To him, becoming President was his worst nightmare. But within days of winning the Civil War (there’s an irony in those words), his leader, President Lincoln, was slain and Grant knew that unless he ran for President everything that they had achieved in that long and bloody war would be undone. So, Grant sought the position not out of ego or a lust for power but out of a sense of duty to benefit the country he loved. People like this don’t come along often but history does have a habit of producing them at the right time.
I have met many politicians in Australia and Los Angeles in my time and save for a few good people, most of them were elitist phony snobs pretending to have a purpose in life. Having spent most of my years in the theatre I can judge a performance when I see one. This great disappointment has made me totally apolitical. I am not a card carrying member of any political organisation so I am not shackled by party lines and rooting for “our” designated leader as if it were a football game. My party isn’t officially registered. It is the Party of Common Sense. But no one is hated more these days than a free thinker. People have to categorise you. Put you in a convenient box and tick it. Sometimes I agree with the Left, sometimes I agree with the Right. It depends on what the issue is and what the arguments are. And when you think about it it’s the free thinkers that actually elect the government. The swinging voters, as they call them.
So at this time with all the problems facing our world I would implore voters to ignore the smear campaign ads, the dirt (whom amongst us can throw the first stone?), and all the manipulative side tracking issues they throw up to take our attention away from the real questions, like, “What are your policies?” “What are you going to do differently that you haven’t already done to disastrous effect?” “What are your plans to get people back to work?” and, if the heavenly powers above have stated that one must attempt to help one’s neighbours, “What are you going to do to ease the struggle of the aged and the unwell amongst us?”
Then take a good long look into their eyes and back your instinct on who, if any, are sincere and true.
After that, God bless us all and lead us not into the valley of darkness. Amen.
(c) Frank Howson 2016
Ray Macky sat at a table for one. He was used to it by now. It wasn’t like the old days. In those days it had been tables for two, or four or twenty-four. He’d been wildly popular in his younger days. In those times he thought it’d been due to his personal charm but now looking back from the cruel vantage point of having lived too long he saw it for what it was – he’d had success and that’d brought truck loads of money in its wake. He must’ve wined and dined every opportunist in town and even married some of them. He’d enjoyed the crème de la crème of the beautiful and sexy who were, at their hearts, the very worst of humanity. Had he learned anything from all this? No. Zip. He still melted inside when a pretty one smiled at him. These days they smiled at him out of pity – he seemed like a kindly old harmless fool instead of a wealthy one. It seems the last faculty to die is one’s stupidity. Each marriage had grown shorter and the settlements larger until there was nothing left. Ray, in his few honest discussions with himself, lamented the small deaths that led up to the big one. The death of his trust; the death of his respect; the death of his generousity; the death of his health; the death of his longing; the death of his libido; the death of his caring.
Sometimes on a summer’s night at an outside table for one, surrounded by young couples in love, he held on momentarily to the conceit that on one such night a beautiful, kind, understanding woman would notice him and walk into what was left of his life and everything leading up to this would suddenly make sense. But he was also smart enough by now to know that this was only the dream of an old man who needed something to clasp onto to bring sleep each night.
Ray liked to walk home from his favourite restaurants on such nights although friends had warned him it was no longer safe to do so at his age. It was a different time and now young boys roamed the streets filled with enough anger to pleasure themselves by bringing down the vulnerable. As if life hadn’t hurt them all enough.
On these late night walks home Ray would try and remember the sound of his parents’ voices and it’d comfort him. Step by step back into the past until he was a young lad again. Back to a time when he was loved…no…treasured, and the future was so filled with options and adventure that he couldn’t wait to be older. Where did it all go, he wondered. Was he so busy running to and from things that he forgot to savour the pleasure of each moment? Or did he enjoy them so much that time accelerated? Whichever scenario, the result was the same – he was now weary. Not just in body, but in spirit. And sad. Sad that he had had so much love to give and dissipated it on all the wrong people. The worst of them had damaged him for the best of them. In recent years he’d had the opportunity to have relationships with certain women but had always declined the offers or let them die on the vine from his lack of interest or follow through. All he knew was it felt good to finally have all the power. He could now no longer be seduced by a pretty face, a sexy body or a woman with a wicked mind. It gave him some satisfaction to see their surprised expressions when their games and charms no longer worked on him. Alas, they were too late. He had no more chips to bet.
His nightly walks also made him think of those that had gotten away. The ones he should’ve stayed with and the ones who broke his heart by leaving each time the money ran out. He’d had such rotten luck in love, although he wasn’t quite sure that some of the horrific scenes he’d endured should be classified under that sacred four letter word.
He wished he could go back in time and give his last wife the things that she’d needed that now seemed so clear but back then were unfathomable. What an idiot he was not to see. And now he was being punished for it. A life sentence. A dead man walking.
He wondered where his son was and what lies he must’ve been told to have distanced himself so much from a father that loved him more than life itself. But such things were too painful to think about if one was to keep going forward. He preferred to think of him as the young man who had worshipped his father. A dad who could do no wrong.
On his last nightly walk home, Ray Macky heard his son’s voice yell out to him from behind and he turned, smiling, his eyes suddenly filled with hope of a new beginning, or a miraculous renewal of what had once been the most loving of relationships. For a few moments Ray was taken aback at how much his son had changed. His face had grown hard and cruel in ways that he couldn’t quite grasp. And he was older than his years. Had he caused this damage to the one he had so loved?
Then he heard the suddenly unfamiliar voice demand money, “Give me your money, old man, or you’ll get this!”
Ray looked down to see a knife in the boy’s hand. Surely his son wouldn’t pull a knife on his own father? If he wanted money all his son had to do was ask and Ray would’ve given him anything. Ah, but then again, Ray no longer had anything. He was back in the here and now, and the cold realisation that he was of no longer any use to anyone.
“I only have twenty dollars in cash I’m afraid. But it’s yours, Tommy, take it, my boy. I can get you some more on Friday when my pension is in my account..”
“Tommy?…Who the fuck is Tommy you stupid old bastard?!”
“Tommy, don’t you recognise me? I’m your dad. I’ve never stopped loving you…”
Ray didn’t get to finish his sentence before the boy grabbed his wallet, thrust the knife into his stomach and ran from the stranger.
Ray fell to the footpath as a warm pool of blood formed around him. Lying there he wondered what he had done to make his son hate him so. Didn’t he know that life just got in the way sometimes and people had no control over where it led them?
Ray attempted a laugh that a monetary figure had finally been placed on his life and closed his eyes in peace that all debts were now paid.
Ray’s last thought was that he hoped the twenty dollars would be of some help to the boy.
(c) Frank Howson 2016
I don’t know where I’m going
But I’m starting here
I dueled with my demons
And conquered my fear
I’d reached a place
Where I was at peace with myself
And the joy that that brought
Meant more to me than wealth
To sit in the garden
and feel the sun on my face
Was to reach an unknown destination
And yet to know this place
But you crashed through my door
With your bag of moods
And a bottle of water
That you’d stolen from Lourdes
Escaping from a man
That’d unfriended you
And his songs of misery
That’d all come true
I don’t know where I’m going
But I’m starting here
All the things that I treasured
You smashed them, my dear
(c) 2015 Frank Howson