I have seen it all But missed so much What happened to our healthy life? Did we lose our touch? There are women out there That want to thrill ya There are men who stare That want to kill ya I'm living in a two room condo In Clownsville I think I may've died but The stubborn part is living still Love is not for wimps Or just a point of view It waivers in the wind When it doesn't ring true I've been to hell They know me there Tell 'em Frankie boy says hello If you dare Everyone I meet Is somebody's girl My dad was Jack My mother was Pearl They taught me how To survive our street And to see the beauty That comes with defeat (c) Frank Howson 2018 Painting by Frank Howson (c) 2017
So many fucked up people in the world Monstrously negative feelings about every living person Every word from their mouths another poison bullet Aimed at someone, anyone Most times they actually kill the person who was attempting To help them But I guess to them we all look the same Eventually they implode and eat themselves But don't breathe easy There are many who will follow They weren't loved enough by daddy So now they reach out frantically to everyone they meet To give them the loving family they were denied But when such immediate desperation hits They frighten off their targets And their baby love turns to a cold-hearted hate Within a blink of an eye They hit out at the world For not giving them what they wanted Yet they can't tell you what that is They want to be celebrities Without doing the hard work They want to be successful writers Without facing the pain They want to top the charts with songs That touch us without ever exploring themselves They want babies But marry those who don't Almost as though this self-fulfilling prophecy Will forever more be their excuse For not having to love anyone Or give of themselves Or try If you are trapped by them There is no escape Only a small room where death awaits The living are always under attack from the dead The spiritual vampires Of the new millennium Sucking off your light force Until you are done And then they will mourn you Because now you are safe to be Whoever they choose to invent As their next excuse (c) Frank Howson 2017
I saw a crazy man in the heart of the city cursing the people he passed, cursing the buildings, cursing someone long gone, cursing God for this Purgatory.
People reacted in different ways. Some froze and willed themselves to be invisible, some scurried away in the opposite direction, some watched in that detached zombie way people stand transfixed at car crash sites, fascinated by the sight of real disaster and yet non-reacting as though watching a movie play out.
So what does it take to make someone just crack one day? One huge life tragedy too much, or a series of small ones too close together that defy our idea of logic and fairness? Perhaps if we raise our voices above the rumbling wearing down drone sound of the busy city traffic, God will hear us?
Why does our Maker withdraw his grace and allow us to free fall through darkness and scorn so far from home? Or are we meant to always be alone in search of ourselves in others, a perilous journey not for the fainthearted. Or the dreamers.
Maybe the crazy man in the street had been chosen to heed his inner calling to join the wild throng and it is therefore in the madness that lies the ultimate truth?
Was Don Quixote mad because he chose to see the world as it should be? Or were the people who gathered to ridicule and laugh at his expense the mad ones?
John Lennon, during his time, was called mad by many, especially the press and the conservative establishment. But his brutal death at the hands of, ironically, a mad man has now elevated him to the status of martyr and messiah. Today, his human flaws have been sanitised to fit what is acceptable in the gospel of his life. The nobody mad man who shot him for a shot at immortality got a life sentence, while the famous mad man got death. And then in death, rose again.
When you look closely at it, most of our true heroes in history were called mad during their lifetimes because they attempted to do something different. To shine a light into the darkness that most of us are afraid to acknowledge. To take us where we would never have dared go if not for them. To make us think and, more importantly, to make us feel. In achieving this, a great many of them paid with their lives so that we may live.
So next time you see a mad man or woman in the street, spare a few seconds to ponder the forces that shaped them. And perhaps in those seconds we may awaken the humanity in ourselves.
(c) Frank Howson 2017
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
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
Remember the days before ipods and iphones when we actually took the time to talk to each other? Really talk.
Remember when you could go out to lunch as an escape from the pressures of work and for an hour could unwind and enjoy a meal without being interrupted by a phone call about something that could obviously wait an hour?
Remember when love was something magical and special and people didn’t take each other for granted? Or for a ride. We all rejoiced when there was suddenly free love. Trouble is, like most things, people don’t value things that come too easily.
Remember when music was on vinyl and an album was big and had a beautiful cover that actually looked like a work of art and we carried those albums around with us to friends’ houses as a badge of pride? They had cover notes. They listed what musicians played on what track. What studio each track was recorded at? Who engineered? What time of day or night had it been recorded. Who had written each song? Who arranged it? Who mixed it? The lyrics. It was important to us to know all these things and to respect those who had participated on our beloved recording. It was difficult to skip tracks so it made you listen to every song and appreciate an album as a whole. Now, music has gotten smaller in so many ways. People download things in inferior sound quality and don’t give a damn about who played on it and who else contributed. Now it’s all about beats.
Remember when people used to know their neighbours? And actually care about them?
Remember when a dog was a child’s best friend and there were so many hills to climb and games to play in the open air? It taught us to use our imaginations. Without a computer screen, we could imagine we were Zorro, Davy Crockett, Robin Hood or Geronimo and play in parks for hours having the time of our life. And were safe.
Remember when the smallest gesture was appreciated and treasured?
Remember when we believed that our vote counted for something? This was in the days before the Whitlam sacking (a Prime Minister elected by the public and dismissed by one man), and Kevin Rudd (another man elected by the public but dismissed by his own party).
Remember when our innocence was lost from three bullets fired in Dallas? A reminder that the world was not a safe place for those who dreamed big dreams.
Remember when your parents took the time to read you bedtime stories?
Remember when an ice cream and a trip to the movies made you feel like the richest kid in town?
Remember when Christmas was spent with all those long gone family members and we laughed as if there would be no tomorrow?
Remember when the days seemed so long that you could easily fit into each one everything you had to do?
Remember the first time you heard the Beatles and they sounded like nothing you’d ever heard before? It’s hard for younger people to appreciate their full impact on the way things were. Music, hair, clothing, and attitudes changed overnight. Or so it seemed.
Remember when you were small and played with children with different coloured skin and didn’t even notice?
Remember the excitement of each birthday party shared with your friends?
Remember the smell of your mum’s cooking? It seemed like she was some kind of magician. She always knew what you wanted.
Remember when each day was your friend and another chance for an adventure? Where did we lose that enthusiasm for life? I lost it for a whole decade but have worked hard to regain it. Be thankful for each day no matter what you are going through. Each day is a gift. If you treat it as such it will be.
Remember when radio stations played any and every style of music as long as they thought it was a hit? It was such a weird and exciting mix of Beatles, Frank Sinatra, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, Louis Armstrong, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Anthony Newley, The Shadows, Bob Dylan, The Seekers, Bobby Darin, Paul Mauriat, The Kinks, Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Janis Joplin, etc., etc., etc.
Remember when people read books and writers became celebrities?
Remember when Bing Crosby was the voice of Christmas?
Remember Muhammad Ali in his prime when he glided like a proud eagle in flight?
Remember reading the Old Testament and being scared because God seemed so pissed off all the time? In the New Testament He had, like us all, mellowed by time.
Remember crying over the loss of your first love?
Remember when people took the time to write and post Christmas cards?
Remember Noddy in Toyland?
Remember when the circus came to town?
Remember watching man set foot on the moon and knowing nothing would be the same again? It was scary and exciting all at the same time. In the words of Bob Dylan, “Man has invented his doom, first step was touching the moon…”
Remember when it wasn’t painful to remember?
(c) Frank Howson 2014
Empty like the dawn. The news channel plays static in my region. Ghosts haunt this apartment wearing masks of old lovers in order to taunt me. The telephone screams and the toaster purposely burns my bread. Sullied like thy father whose art is in heaven, leading me hot into Perdition, chained and whipped by forces of my own undoing. Gentle be thy name until I am called at midnight to visit the homes of the stars. Everyone of them shooting for a living, making stories of redemption and compassion while they condemn their workers to a hell on earth. Overt your eyes, dear servant, for nothing good comes of intimacy just pain and hang overs and the search for meaning in the nothingness of this bottomless well. Arise you cripples and walk, proud-like, James Arness-like, from this Holocaust we called home.
Beyond this space is the room nobody lives in. I have glimpsed pictures of it in a magazine in the days when such things mattered. Whatever happened to the Kinks and their sibling hatred as I darn my socks before throwing them out. All things must be mended before they are discarded says the good book but I have lost my place.
I watch movies of dead people acting happy in front of painted sets, their witty dialogue an offence before God.
People who are friends push past on their way to talk to those who hate them. Their name must’ve been in the paper this week and one senses they should know where “it’s all happening.”
I’m not sure Tonto was happy.
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend sings Marilyn but she smiles as though she knows the truth about the Kennedys. She was always a smart girl, it’s there in her eyes.
I have been plotting my demise for some time now but can’t find the right door. Perhaps Tuesday.
Gladiators are felled by bad luck and a chip on their shoulders. Sometimes in the morning mist it is possible to see clearly.
The sea has risen around my island and although I find the view pleasing, the water is cold.
(c) Frank Howson 2014