At the Moon and other Poems by shadesmaclean
Summary: A collection of assorted poetry and verse I've written over the years.
Categories: Poetry/Songs Characters: None
Genres: Angst, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Science Fiction, Supernatural
Warnings: Death, Violence
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 24 Completed: No Word count: 10386 Read: 2070 Published: 09/24/14 Updated: 09/12/17
Story Notes:
I didn't try my hand at songwriting until I was in college. Sadly, I have all the musical talent of a stump (Okay, I lied, the stump has more musical talent than me :( ), but when a friend of mine tried to start a band, I experimented with writing lyrics. Sadly, nothing ever came of it, as he was never able to get a solid crew together, but I still believe the experience helped me become a better writer. (For what it's worth, years later, he did get something off the ground. If you're ever in Washington state, keep an ear out for the Walking Talls. :) )
This collection contains both poems I've written, as well as unused lyrics I wrote.

1. At the Moon by shadesmaclean

2. Ghost Towns by shadesmaclean

3. Insomnia by shadesmaclean

4. Slippage by shadesmaclean

5. Lost Verse (Silent Hill) by shadesmaclean

6. Lost Verse (Raccoon City) by shadesmaclean

7. Lost Verse (The Nameless City) by shadesmaclean

8. Twilight by shadesmaclean

9. Enter Ye the Spooky Door by shadesmaclean

10. Dark Reflection by shadesmaclean

11. Dead End Drive by shadesmaclean

12. Hallmark Holiday by shadesmaclean

13. I'll Be Staggerin' Drunk for Christmas by shadesmaclean

14. Flawed Logic (a Rant) by shadesmaclean

15. Losing It by shadesmaclean

16. Follow the Leader by shadesmaclean

17. Pass It On by shadesmaclean

18. No Way Out (The Empty Set) by shadesmaclean

19. Wrong Track by shadesmaclean

20. Give 'em Hell! by shadesmaclean

21. Without a Trace by shadesmaclean

22. I Want My Country Back by shadesmaclean

23. That Monkey Is Not Your Friend by shadesmaclean

24. P.O.W. (Prisoners of War) by shadesmaclean

At the Moon by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
howling at the dark side of the moon
Laugh at yourself.
The great cosmic joke’s on you.
Here today, gone tomorrow;
An unseen clock is ticking.
A time-bomb waiting to go off
On the next thing to go wrong.
No brakes, any second you could snap.
Or just hysterically laugh.
Howling at the dark side of the moon.
Out-of-control anxiety, fear,
The origin of religion,
Muttering strange prayers at the dark.
Broken-record rituals
Keep the nightmare at bay—
Of shadows, specters, shapeless, nameless fears,
Red glowing eyes staring out at you
Through the gloomy mist at the back of your mind.
An unseen presence
Past the beam of your flashlight.
Silent voices laugh in the corner,
But you can hear them.
Even if no one else can.
Thoughts that flap on leathery wings,
Horror that simply is, as if for its own sake.
Consciousness teetering on the razor’s edge of reason,
On the jagged, ragged edge of Reality,
Threatening to fall away
Into the depths of a nightmare without end…
End Notes:
-June 13, 2001

This one was a poem that pieced itself together one night while I was working at a certain fast food establishment, about what it would be like to be alone with my mind back then. Aside from a few chapters in the Book of Hondo, I haven’t written much poetry, I’m seldom in the spirit.
Ghost Towns by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
I didn't try my hand at songwriting until I was in college. Sadly, I have all the musical talent of a stump (Okay, I lied, the stump has more musical talent than me :( ), but when a friend of mine tried to start a band, I experimented with writing lyrics. Sadly, nothing ever came of it, as he was never able to get a solid crew together, but I still believe the experience helped me become a better writer. (For what it's worth, years later, he did get something off the ground. If you're ever in Washington state, keep an ear out for the Walking Talls. :) ) This is something I wrote back then:
There's a town in the middle
of the Great American Nowhere
Boom gone bust so it's still little
Nothing will ever happen there
And it's still the place to go
for those who don't like to change
Where it's all same-old, same-old
and that's how everything's remained
in this chain of towns & quaint hicks
A place that time forgot, ignored
where things will never get fixed
One-by-one they've closed the doors
so the dust sits & collects
Those who remain sit & grow old
hide cobwebs, spiders & insects
from summer's heat & winter's cold
The people here have no story to tell
They all died long ago & this is Hell


Just a bathroom & gas station
on the way to someplace else
Just another wide space in
the road out of the Rust Belt

It's the place they warned you about
If you have any sense, you'll get the hell out
Don't stay in this place for too long
You may check in, but you don't check out


They made a deal with the devil
for 10 years of prosperity
Then the time came to settle
and it fell apart so quickly
A boarded-up fortress of rats
Business Bureau's a den of thieves
Buried dark secrets of the past
a "boomtown" front no one believes
Now everyone just drives right by
'cause there's nothing there to see
What goes up comes down some time
now it's a desert town so eerie
travelers want right back out
almost as soon as they arrive
Those who stayed will creep you out
Don't stop for anything — just drive
This place is dying & it knows it
and it intends to take them all with it


Going... Going... Gone
Sold to the highest bidder
A small town gone all wrong
no time taken to consider

It's the place they warned you about
If you have any sense, you'll get the hell out
Don't stay in this place for too long
You may check in, but you don't check out


To some, it's only a mirage
just off to the side of the road
They've never needed the garage
nor seen the welcome that it showed
They don't know what it's like
year after year in this place
This isolated trailer court paradise
moving at a turtle's pace
Creepy like a place from some
old black-n-white movie show
to which no one would even come
It was more real than they could know
It's here on the Endless Highway
one of those destination points
away from which you'll wanna stay
if their fate you wish to avoid
Take matters no further than just arriving
'cause if you're smart you'll keep on driving


There are just too many ghosts
for such a tiny town
Too many dirty secrets
buried on too little ground

It's the place they warned you about
If you have any sense, you'll get the hell out
Don't stay in this place for too long
You may check in, but you don't check out
End Notes:
-circa 1999, revised 2004

"Ghost Towns" is my impression of over nine years in Havre, MT, a real life ghost town. When I moved there, it was still a town, but in a matter of years it had already started to crumble into a hollow shell, a shadow of its former self. Like seeing through an illusion from some dark tale, now it's showing its true face as it moved on. I've known lots of people who are going nowhere, and I didn't intend to join them. The only thing that kept this place from joining the rest of the "Hi-Line" region (the chain of ghost towns along Highway 2, of which it is the capital) is what little remains of its economic base. Montana is a state full of ghost towns, the products of 150 years worth of booms and busts. (Remember that when they get to the "history" of corporations, they suck places dry and then move on.) That place honestly gave me the creeps, and I would never want to live there again.
Insomnia by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Life gets strange without sleep...
I've had no dreams in 7 nights
now they happen when I'm awake
I wish I could just get some sleep
Don't know how much more I can take
Get up & go to the bathroom
mirror, to see what I can see
My mind must be playing tricks again
'cause my reflection just winked at me
Find myself outside, staring at the stars
and thinking about the Twilight Zone
If there are other worlds than these
then why do I always feel so alone?


No rest for the weary
on a night so dreary
So once again I walk
straying from thought to thought
Wandering the streets
almost but not quite lost
It's my own walkabout
each time a different route
The world around me not quite dead
while I'm lost inside my head


As I walk down the dark street at 3 AM
I swear that everything's watching me
Statues at the bank give me more than dirty looks
I hear dark voices here call out to me
Then I'm striding thru the cemetery
wishing for a shotgun in my hand
Now how the hell did I end up here?
To tell the truth, I don't understand
Each time I look, the bushes change places
makes me so relieved to be out of there
But as I gaze at the old building ahead
the gate opens, I feel a chill in the air...


No rest for the weary
on a night so dreary
So once again I walk
straying from thought to thought
Wandering the streets
almost but not quite lost
It's my own walkabout
each time a different route
The world around me not quite dead
while I'm lost inside my head


I don't know...

I don't know...

I don't know...

Do I really want to know?


I stand at my own front door again
and don't know how I got back home
I don't remember what just happened
or why I went walking out there all alone
I vow never to go out like that again
but I doubt I could keep my word
I'm afraid the walls have overheard
As long as they're around, I'll never be cured
but maybe now I'll get some sleep...


No rest for the weary
on a night so dreary
So once again I walk
straying from thought to thought
Wandering the streets
almost but not quite lost
It's my own walkabout
each time a different route
The world around me not quite dead
while I'm lost inside my head
End Notes:
-circa 1998, revised 2003

I didn't try my hand at songwriting until I was in college. Sadly, I have all the musical talent of a stump (Okay, I lied, the stump has more musical talent than me :( (Sad) ), but when a friend of mine tried to start a band, I experimented with writing lyrics. Sadly, nothing ever came of it, as he was never able to get a solid crew together, but I still believe the experience helped me become a better writer. (For what it's worth, years later, he did get something off the ground. If you're ever in Washington state, keep an ear out for the Walking Talls. :) (Smile) )

Though "Insomnia" was an attempt to capture how my life felt after nearly a year of living under frequent lack of sleep, the episode described in this song is loosely based on something that happened to me the night after Independence Day that year. After stocking up on fireworks that would not be lit for another year, I celebrated America’s independence by serving Big Macs and Quarter Pounders to the losers who couldn’t find a barbecue to go to, while my friends had a blast our family's. I came home from work and tried to sleep, but my feet just wouldn’t have it…

So I find myself in the down town, and saw many things.

Past the Mason building and the old post office (where I used to imagine sinister interdimensional goings-on...) I passed the bank on 3rd Avenue, and saw the statues from afar. There are three men and giant wheel, sculpted by some local guy. Two of the men are shaking hands. In my mind’s eye, I see a man walk past the statues, which promptly come to life and grab him. I know the following morning, the police will find him strangled on the corner, and his name will be added to a long, unsolved list of people who have been killed on that corner over the years. I keep the width of the street between me and the statues, and continue on my way…

I eventually skirt the football field, which lies in a natural amphitheater of stepped terraces where cars actually park and people can watch the game with binoculars and listen to the announcer on the radio. I climb the hill on the south side and pass the water treatment plant. I’m now up in Highland Park, and realize that I’m about to walk past the cemetery. I walk the entire length of the graveyard on a dirt road, staying on the other side of it and watching the graves with the paranoid eyes of a true insomniac. I will walk through the alley behind the middle school the same way, trying to watch everything at once…

On the way, I stop at Optimist Park, where I used to play with my cousin while his big sister was playing softball, but I’m too spooked by this point to go anywhere near the playground equipment. (Funny. This was the same place I would contemplate reading IT by the street lights three years later?)…

By sunrise, I’m up in the hills west of town, near the fairgrounds, where I look over a sea of spent fireworks littering the streets. I walk back into town, and go past The Castle on my way. (When we first moved there, we lived in a trailer just down the street from The Castle, a big old mansion with a tower, which was being renovated by some guy who had a bunch of vicious dogs on the premises.) I stand for a long time, just staring up the stone steps, and for my final weird vision before daylight turned the town back to normal, I see myself going up the steps and walking into the house, never to be seen again… :|

Even though part of me knew it was nonsense, that final vision seemed to me to say that if I kept snooping around eerie places, I would eventually find a real one. It was on this thought that I finally went home and fell asleep.
Slippage by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
What happens when reality itself starts forgetting how to keep it real...
On the street corner, two statues shake hands over the body of a drifter
whose throat was crushed by a hand about that size.
The fourth one this month, and the police still have no suspects.

The old abandoned apartment seems to get a little younger every day,
colors fading in, graffiti fading out.
Sepia-toned windows frame the ghosts of lives never lived.
No one comes in or out.

All over town, folks are packing up and leaving.
Not even bothering to sell,
and the houses are going downhill fast.

The church stands empty, aging by the day,
after the preacher lost his battle with something,
while his numb flock wander aimlessly.

Fewer and fewer kids are going to school these days,
as if they no longer wish to learn things Man was never meant to know.
Even the teachers look as if they don't know
what they're doing there anymore.

The playground looks old and forlorn,
the few kids who go there appear lost and dazed,
but still seem reluctant to go home,
even at sunset.

To see some linger under the flickering streetlights
was a most unsettling sight.
Especially the half-seen company they keep.

There's no denying, this town is dying,
but no one knows just what it's dying from...


Contact with the outside world is diminishing,
as if it all only exists on TV and in books.
Travellers drive right through, stopping for nothing if they don't have to.
The children gaping, wide-eyed, while their parents stare straight ahead.

At the corner store, the shelf stock dwindles,
random objects stand out on mostly bare shelves,
all the while, strange noises coming from the back room.
The staff seem constantly spooked and preoccupied.

The elevator got stuck on the pre-floor,
a strange, nowhere level, of halls and rooms that don't connect,
and took a lot of button-coaxing to get off of.
After that, stuck with the stairs.

When reality starts forgetting how to keep it real,
doors and halls and alleyways no longer lead to where they used to,
dark places that don't want to let you out.

Time out here seems to be going soft:
lingering sunsets and longer nights,
even as summer advances by day.
Falling into twilight...

Some nights, the moon seems to shimmer, as if underwater.
Other nights, it looms over everything,
and seems to be crawling with tiny black shapes.
Even the stars don't look familiar anymore.

The streets are no longer safe at night.
Streetlights flicker in and out too conveniently,
sometimes illuminating glimpses in the corner of the eye.
Stalked by shadow-shapes, with nothing to cast them.

There's no denying, this town is dying,
but no one knows just what it's dying from.
What we see and hear, something draws near,
can't tell what we fear, or from whence it comes...


In the Town of Missing People,
no one looks too closely at the things that wash up on the lakeshore:
masses of claws and tentacles and beaks that don't belong to any native species,
as well as hands and feet, and other things the eye refuses to dwell on.

The telephone lines themselves seem to have strange noises in them.
Through the receiver, indistinct, incoherent,
half-heard snatches of long-forgotten conversations.
Laughing? Crying? Mumbling? Coughing?

The radio has gotten steadily worse,
the signal fading into a steady wash of static,
with strange and horrific noises rising out of the tide,
to eldritch rhythms pounding in the deep.

It can be dangerous to listen to after dark,
especially when it starts talking to you
about things you never wanted to talk about.
That is, when what it's talking about actually makes any sense.

And the TV isn't any better, possibly even worse.
Strange shapes shift in and out of the static snow,
and sometimes seem to reach out through the screen.

Things have gone too far, this town is doomed.
Nothing left but to risk the Unknown,
walking off into the reality unravelling all around...

There's no denying, this town is dying,
but no one knows just what it's dying from.
No one knows what we're dealing with but the sinking feeling
that our fate it's sealing, and the worst is yet to come...
End Notes:
-circa May-June 2014

...Or what happens when you start getting a lot of shifts that keep you late at night, then have you turn right back around in the morning, leaving you frequently jet-lagged. :D Probably a result of re-reading older pieces like "Insomnia" I'm not surprised it started with a vision of the bank statues I wrote about before, and quickly, insidiously escalated into creepy scenarios of a small town being consumed by something eldritch and alien. :|
I had a lot of different inspirations for this stuff, and I would certainly not deny Lovecraft as one of my major ones, along with Stephen King and Neil Gaiman. There was other stuff, too, Silent Hill being a fairly obvious one, especially Homecoming, oddly enough. Not so much the game, as the promotional materials, Deputy Wheeler's journal about events in Shepard's Glen leading up the events of the game, as well as just the original trilogy in general. From King's Dark Tower series, which is where I got the term "slippage" in the first place, just the idea of the fabric of reality coming unraveled in places and becoming Just Not Right, as well as the Peter Straub novel "Floating Dragon" ( "Shadowland" also comes highly recommended), to say nothing of the creepier side of Tom Waits. Every one of those sleepless mornings would bring its own chilling visions of this poor town's descent into an eldritch abyss...
Lost Verse (Silent Hill) by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
the first of the Lost Verses...
Come give your spine a chill down in Silent Hill
small town of dark secrets & a violent will
Living a nightmare, trapped inside there
armed with just a radio & flashlight there
Downright scared, at the end of your wits
everytime static spits, signal's on the fritz
Thru the mist, unhallowed shapes twist, fear-inspirin'
before the total blackout & the air-raid siren
Tryin' to solve the mystery of this town's history
before the dark forces here do this to me
too, it'll swallow your soul, swallow it whole
once it's too late and this town takes its toll
No vacation, salvation or damnation?
In this otherworld town, both are waitin'
for you, along with your past, five steps ahead
Unless you catch up & face it, you're as good as dead
Pyramid Head or red lights of death, will depend
on if you keep running or stand up to defend
hard truths from fears no one comprehends
In darkness it waits, until the silence ends...
End Notes:
-10/13/12

2012 was a rollercoaster year, and not exactly the fun kind. In addition to long weeks at a stretch "On Call" (basically job hunting... :| ), I spent parts of it directing traffic at Universal Studios. For what it's worth, the job itself wasn't so bad, just everything else, from the unreliable hours to the absurd commute from the Valley (which, ironically, would no longer be an issue now that I live in Hollywood, but would have made little difference in the long run, due to the hours' inherent instability outside of summer, but whatever...), and it ended up costing us our old apartment. It was also the year I started branching out into Nerdcore. Though I've been a lifelong fan of Weird Al, and had been following Lars and a couple others for a while by that point, this was the same year I got into Front-a-Lot, MC Hawking, Beefy, Dual Core, Jesse Dangerously, and Schaefer the Darklord, among others. So I was working Halloween Horror Nights, and frequently had "Bruce Campbell" stuck in my head, what with all the zombies walking around, and the whole Lower Lot getting converting into Silent Hill that year and all, coupled with my job at the garage mostly consisting of counting cars with a ticker. Not exactly a mentally taxing task (which is why it basically pays Minimum Wage... :( ), but since I had this song stuck in my head, my mind started cranking out alternate verses, starting with this one, which I recently stumbled across while sorting out my old notes from that year. :)
Lost Verse (Raccoon City) by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
another Lost Verse
City of the Dead, aim for the head
Line up your shots & make 'em eat lead
Makes you see red at all that Umbrella's done
Turned all the residents evil one by one
So grab your gear and lock & load
form some kind of plan & hit the road
Scrounge a Magnum, boomstick or grenades
take your pick, ammo's scarce as hope fades
Beat feet to meet what's left of the street
or back alleys & rooftops if you can't take the heat
'Cause too many zombies roam the streets like they own
the place & give chase to all survivors alone
to face it, the strong & cunning, lasting this long
But other biohazards still lurk, work gone wrong
by mad scientists up to all kinds of No Good
messing with nature in ways no one should
Still these creatures attack, won't cut you any slack
your kill count so high that you lost track
When you bust a cap, don't forget to double-tap
even though you know you've walked into a trap
Oh snap, as if all these monsters weren't enough
now they're gonna blow the whole city up
The countdown is set, so call off all bets
Rest In Peace, Raccoon City, we will never forget...
End Notes:
-10/18/12

2012 was a rollercoaster year, and not exactly the fun kind. In addition to long weeks at a stretch "On Call" (basically job hunting... :| (Blank Stare) ), I spent parts of it directing traffic at Universal Studios. For what it's worth, the job itself wasn't so bad, just everything else, from the unreliable hours to the absurd commute from the Valley (which, ironically, would no longer be an issue now that I live in Hollywood, but would have made little difference in the long run, due to the hours' inherent instability outside of summer, but whatever... :( ), and it ended up costing us our old apartment. It was also the year I started branching out into Nerdcore. Though I've been a lifelong fan of Weird Al, and had been following Lars and a couple others for a while by that point, this was the same year I got into Front-a-Lot, MC Hawking, Beefy, Dual Core, Jesse Dangerously, and Schaefer the Darklord, among others. So I was working Halloween Horror Nights, and frequently had "Bruce Campbell" stuck in my head, what with all the zombies walking around, and the whole Lower Lot getting converting into Silent Hill that year and all, coupled with my job at the garage mostly consisting of counting cars with a ticker. And they recruited an army of zombies for the "Walking Dead" themed Terror Tram that year, shambling around the rest of the lot between shifts, and zombies always put me in mind of Resident Evil. Not exactly a mentally taxing task (which is why it basically pays Minimum Wage... :( ), but since I had this song stuck in my head, my mind started cranking out alternate verses, including this one, which I recently stumbled across while sorting out my old notes from that year. :D
Lost Verse (The Nameless City) by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
One Night Only!
MC Lovecraft, waxing arcane on why we're all insignificant specks crawling on a pale blue dot, spinning through a cold, indifferent universe! Good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the Nightgaunts bite! :D
On the horizon, it looms, in your darkest dreams
Shadows out of Time where reality's not what it seems
Amidst the screams that echo from Leng's cold plane
to the Empty Quarter's desert ruins without name
Remote, forgotten places to the Bermuda Triangle
and accounts of lost souls and wreckage found mangled
From Dunwich and Arkham, to the City of Angles
Gibbering, abnormal things found tangled
in Innsmouth fish nets or the Mountains of Madness
onward, to the dark side of Dreamland quests
On Lake Hali, heralding the fall of the queen
behold dim Carcosa, where we lay our scene
Where the King in Yellow reigns, we traveled
to places where reality comes unraveled
wholecloth, bringing new colors out of space
antediluvian relics, directions out of place
In Non-Euclidean Space, alien geometry
home to eldritch Things That Should Not Be
Dreaming deathless dreams to Unspeakable Cults
inhuman crossbreeding with horrific results
Hard to ignore the gore, from tomes of eldritch lore
You'll never sleep again if you read any more
from the Book of Eibon or the Necronomicon
a phonebook for calling on things from Beyond
human comprehension, whispers from another dimension
that science may one day unlock with thoughtless invention
not intention, a sight to behold, of horrors untold
Unleashing chaos and madness as events unfold
A bad moon rising this Unhallowed Eve Night
things will go all wrong when the stars come right
For that is not dead which can eternal lie
and with strange aeons, even death may die...
End Notes:
-10/18/12

2012 was a rollercoaster year, and not exactly the fun kind. In addition to long weeks at a stretch "On Call" (basically job hunting... :| ), I spent parts of it directing traffic at Universal Studios. For what it's worth, the job itself wasn't so bad, just everything else, from the unreliable hours to the absurd commute from the Valley (which, ironically, would no longer be an issue now that I live in Hollywood, but would have made little difference in the long run, due to the hours' inherent instability outside of summer, but whatever... :( ), and it ended up costing us our old apartment (see "Photos" folder for pics :) ). It was also the year I started branching out into Nerdcore. Though I've been a lifelong fan of Weird Al, and had been following Lars and a couple others for a while by that point, this was the same year I got into Front-a-Lot, MC Hawking, Beefy, Dual Core, Jesse Dangerously, and Schaffer the Darklord, among others. So I was working Halloween Horror Nights, and frequently had "Bruce Campbell" stuck in my head, what with all the zombies walking around, and the whole Lower Lot getting converting into Silent Hill that year and all, coupled with my job at the garage mostly consisting of counting cars with a ticker. When it comes to horror, my mind often turns to the cosmic variety, especially Lovecraftian, so it's not surprising I found myself rhyming about the Cthulhu Mythos while I was standing around. Not exactly a mentally taxing task (which is why it basically pays Minimum Wage... :( ), but since I had this song stuck in my head, my mind started cranking out alternate verses, including this one, which I recently stumbled across while sorting out my old notes from that year. :D
Twilight by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Flashlight: "Submitted for your approval: the story of Darek Chambers, age 19. A young man who, tired of driving in circles, took off on the ultimate road trip in search of a little adventure. Little does he know that he is about to get more than he bargained for. For at the last turnoff, he made a wrong turn, driving off the map and onto the endless highway of the Twilight Zone..."
Asleep at the wheel, nothing looks quite real
beyond the road, and it starts to feel
as if you're driving right off the map
Drifting across lines to wake up with a snap
A foreboding shroud, the fog wrapped around
the hum of the engine the only sound
And around each bend, anything might lurk
in the nothingness beyond this murk
My eyes so weary, in & out dreams so eerie
driving the night thru fog so dreary
I must've made wrong turn out there
lost in the middle of nowhere
For thru the foggy late night air
was a small town so dusty & bare
Faded sign for this place with no name
not on the map, but here all the same
Should I go back the way I came?
I pondered on that midnight highway
as if I'd turned off on some forgotten byway
The road swallowed by the mists behind
a strange unease in the back of my mind
as I wondered what I would find...


Riding down the highway on such a dreary, foggy night
past the beams things aren't what they seem
Like there was nothing beyond my headlights
it can make you think that it's all a dream

On the road tonight, something doesn't feel right
an eerie site where nothing on my map should be
And it can only happen in twilight
where we see what we wanna see


In this chain of one-horse towns
it was just another link
so small, you'd miss it if you blink
You have lots of time to think
looking at unfamiliar stars
when you haven't seen any cars
Just blank storefronts & bars
eyelids so heavy I was hopin'
that someplace might still be open
The still-life scene I was scopin'
lining an eerie, empty street
No place to crash, even tho I'm beat
after hours, nowhere to stop & eat
Then my tire blew out right there
stuck in a ghost town without a spare
Just the garage was still open where
the mechanic didn't really care
he just got on it right away
Strange, but hey, what can I say?
the place was open this time of day
Though I wanted to be on my way
I went to find someplace to stay


Riding down the highway on such a dreary, foggy night
Trouble, and in my way, that faded road sign
looming out in the fog beyond my headlights
naming a town on my map I couldn't find

In this town tonight, something doesn't feel right
I tried the radio, but all I got was snow
And so I stepped out into the twilight
on a walk for somewhere to go


Outside, tried a payphone, no dialtone
Looked around this ghost town so quaint
Old buildings, dirt roads, peeling paint
and in my tired head, a voice so faint
whispering to me to turn back instead
For this place inspires a certain dread
it made me wonder if I was dead
or if it was all in my head
Then this girl came up to me & said
"You won't believe me, I fear
but the hour is drawing near
when the fog & this town disappear."
At first I couldn't believe my ears
but it sure explained the atmosphere
Somehow, knew I would be trapped here
Now I could see it all too well
haunted ground, you can just tell
any traveler's idea of hell
Time was running out, this was not a game
I had to go back the way I came
or else I'd be doomed to remain
in this place without a name


Even a walk couldn't dispel my sense that foggy night
that nothing in this town is what it seemed
Down the park, after dark, under this streetlight
a warning that this is not all just a dream

In this place tonight, something doesn't feel right
strange sounds out in the gloom
Half-seen shapes out in the twilight
and the feeling of impending doom


Back thru this living ghost town
we ran, hoping I wasn't too late
to avoid this surreal fate
almost out of time to make our escape
But the mechanic did all he could
trying to keep me here for good
left the tire to dig under the hood
Knock on wood, this place is a mirage
gotta get the hell outta Dodge
So I hotwired a pickup by the garage
I don't want to know, I thought
what would happen if we got caught
Could be any second but we were not
The fog was fading more & more
so I had to get back on course
to make it back where I was before
Check the rearview for chase in store
to see the fog was fading away
and behind me was nothing but
endless miles of moonlit highway...


Adrift on this lost highway on such a dreary, foggy night
beyond my headlights' beams, things aren't what they seem
Turned to find an empty seat on the passenger side
I wanted to say we made it, or it was just a dream

But the road tonight still doesn't feel right
trying to find my way back to where I came
Driving onward into the twilight
where reality's just not the same


Endless miles to keep track
Try to find your way back
from a place of sight & sound
Where reality comes unwound
It's where perception starts to bend
Where light & shadow blend
echoing past the vanishing point
of corridors that never end
What's just outside your flashlight's beams
It's the world of nightmares & dreams
And here it's mind over matter
Unlearn or else your mind will shatter
Another dimension, beyond reality
and nothing is ever what it seems to be
Where fact & fiction stand side-by-side
the borderlands, where worlds collide
So step out into the great unknown
to battle the Power on your own
in the Twilight Zone...
End Notes:
Flashlight: "Darek Chambers, age: 19. He headed out on the highway, looking for adventure, and whatever came his way. Now he follows an unknown road, reading unfamiliar signs and trying to find a path to where he was before. Unfortunately, all roads lead to the Twilight Zone..."

-circa 1999 - 03/08/04

This is my own take on the whole Town That Wasn't There tale.
Enter Ye the Spooky Door by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Fragments of this poem appeared in Tradewinds 9: "The Building is Hungry!" Here is the piece in its entirety:
Enter ye the Spooky Door, step beyond the lantern’s beams, ancient dark corridors to explore where nothing’s what it seems. Don’t get lost upon thy way, the path of nightmares and dreams, in this old place, the games it can play. Skeleton key in hand, the silence screams.

The path looketh calm, but beware: tho all is silent in the Halls of the Dead, the machines that make nothing wait there until a blinking green light turneth red. Halls of locked doors, hidden danger; let not the lost child lead thee astray, to the wrath of the Phantom Stranger, ‘For we are many!’ the voices say.

Dead words drift across the page, the wisdom of some ancient sage, echoes of a long-forgotten age, but arcane verse doth set the stage:

Behold the sweet Lady of Twylight— tattered shadows billow from her mast, in the sea fog’s shimmering light, ’tis an eerie spectre of the past. The derelict adrift in the Misty Main, shades of men seem to man the decks, a ghost ship that’s the traveler’s bane, on a journey to nowhere uncheck’d.

All aboard the Mystery Train, walk through the dimly-lit cars, away from the Twylight City, riding under fading, dying stars. All the passenger cars art empty and the destinations don’t connect, but this train doth run through every one; ’twill make the hair stand on thy neck.

Nameless armies prowleth abandoned places, incomprehensible and vast; no one returneth who hath seen their faces: thou’rt through the looking glass.

Nowhere to hide from the scanners, in this dark place of Shadows, thou wilt never find the Lord of the Manor; in the Halls of Power, no one knows. Creepy like a place from some old black and white movie show, to which no one wouldst even come: ’twas more real than they couldst know.

A Presence in the room, of impending doom: don’t freeze up, for ye must runneth. Footfalls in the hall, to the book’s tomb, when something wickèd this way cometh…
End Notes:
This poem was originally part of the Book of Hondo, but it also seemed to fit the atmosphere of the Harken Building, so it made for a quirky Hondo-Tradewinds crossover.
Dark Reflection by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
One day, I was digging through some of my old notes, I stumbled across this previously untitled poem:
Sometimes I look in the mirror
and say to myself:
“Whatever happened to you?
You used to be such a nice guy.”

Then, about a decade of memories slam into me
like a movie flashback montage,
and my reflection answers,
“Oh yeah. That’s why.”

100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words 100 words
End Notes:
-circa 2004

Admittedly, written during what was probably one of the darkest chapters of my life, a time I prefer not to dwell on, but every once in a while, you just have one of those days, you know?
Dead End Drive by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
This was something else I wrote, around the same period I wrote "Ghost Towns"
S-O-S— this is not a test
This isn't a joke, either
A hoax or some sick game
I promise this is neither
Just get me out of here
is all I ask of the receiver
I don't want to live here
until I'm an old geezer
I just want to see this town
in my rearview mirror

A place of false fronts & buried secrets
Here it's "out of sight, out of mind"
It's all the things these people hide
the things no one will ever find
The Bone Yard where all things end up
the last stop, this is the end of the line
That's why I've gotta get out
This life will kill me before my time


Dead end
Wrong way on a one-way street
Can't admit defeat to anyone I meet
Dead end
I got detoured on a one-way track
Looks like there's no going back

This is Hell County behind the façade
a dead-end life, a dead-end job
Just keep driving when you arrive
Dead End Drive


From afar they try to bring me down
from CEO's to senators
And circling me like vultures
are predators & creditors
My only motivation
desperation, debts & threats
No reward, no incentive
just a life of regrets
I can't breathe but I can't leave
because I just don't know how
Going nowhere, must get outta there
and leave Dead End Drive right now


Dead end
Wrong way on a one-way street
Can't admit defeat to anyone I meet
Dead end
I got detoured on a one-way track
Looks like there's no going back

This is Hell County behind the façade
a dead-end life, a dead-end job
Just keep driving when you arrive
Dead End Drive


This is life in a Company Town
You just rent a Pullman house to dwell
only shop Pullman's store, and at the bell
go sit through a Pullman church, as well
Trade in for a Pullman soul to sell
and only have a Pullman tale to tell
So choose your path & choose it well
or else you'll die like me
and go to Pullman Hell...
End Notes:
-circa 1999, revised 2003

"Ghost Towns" was not the only song I wrote about the darker side of living in eastern Montana, as back then, I kinda had an axe to grind on the subject, but this was the only other one that was ever any good. Back in 2003, my friend moved out of state to go back to school, but for a couple years, I held on to the silly notion that he might come back and try to start a band, so for a while, I continued tinkering with song lyrics before putting it all away for years to focus more fully on Tradewinds. The key to this one, when I came back to it later, was recognizing that it started with the present, but had I unconsciously dug back into all I'd learned of the state's history, from the Copper Kings to the Railroad Barons, and the horror stories of living in a Company Town. Montana is a state full of ghost towns, the products of 150 years worth of booms and busts. (Remember that when they get to the "history" of corporations, they suck places dry and then move on.) And, sadly, the whole thing comes full circle, seeing how far our current Plutocracy is going these days to reverse over a century of human progress, and drag the past into the future...

"Hell" County was more than just a nickname, it was a play on the county's real name. In downtown Havre, just a bit back from Main Street, in front of the train station, is a bronze statue of one James J Hill, railroad magnate, whom the entire county was named after. In some town I can't remember the name of, there's a small bronze plaque dedicated to the one dead Chinaman for every mile of his railroad. :( And while, unlike the rest of the song, "Pullman" (the final verse based on a famous quote from the Pullman Strike) is not a Montana reference, per se, but it was the epitome of the kind of company towns that dominated Gilded Age West. A place where corporate executives voted themselves into public office by having foremen watch over the shoulder of every ballot cast, as well as funneling most of their workers' incomes right back into the owner's pockets at Company Stores, at their worst, calling upon Pinkerton mercenaries, and even the National Guard, to gun down workers. :|
Hallmark Holiday by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Something I freestyled one afternoon, years ago, dreading the traditional Last Minute Christmas Shopping Expedition I was going on later that night.
"Blue Light Special on Aisle 3..."

It’s the holiday season, and people are getting violent
Pushing, shoving & cursing to the tune of “Silent
Night”, it’s a hell of fight for what they sell
I’m in Jingle Bell Hell & I can tell
’Cause the trees were up before the snow even fell
Ah hell, well it makes me wanna fly south like a bird
’Cause by the millionth time you’ve heard
“Deck the Halls” you wanna hurt someone
Comin’ outta Housewears with a shotgun
And blow away every speaker when I’m done
I have not yet begun to Christmas shop today
I can see it’s gonna be another Hallmark Holiday

I walk into the store & see the lights
And look at all the pretty sights
It’s a fight not to lose your cool
In the shopping cart jams & mob rule
The fools & their money are soon parted
By cheap gimmicks, outsmarted & Wal-Marted
Before winter’s even started, the wall
Has been plastered with ads & that’s not all
They Decked the Halls with advertising
’Tis the season for merchandising
It’s not surprising people are fighting
With prices dropping & tempers rising
X-mas comes but once a year
But watch out, dude, once it gets here
When it draws near, there’ll be hell to pay
Time again for another Hallmark Holiday

The promotion is shameless
Those behind it hardly blameless
Just an elaborate deception
Designed to alter your perception
Make gifts out of products & fads
With a long line of holiday ads
Halloween stuff in September
And Thanksgiving stuff in October
Christmas stuff before November
Or Easter in March, remember?
Mindless commercialism on display
Just another Hallmark Holiday
End Notes:
-circa December 2002
I'll Be Staggerin' Drunk for Christmas by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
A country-fried ode to Holiday stress...
I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
on the couch watching TV
Don't wanna be sober when I try
to put up that tree
I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
so don't wait up for me
I'm off to the pub to pound a few
but I'll be home by 3

I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
and so before I go
I'll have an egg-nog for the road
and hope it doesn't snow
I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
even though I don't know why
If I'm not careful comin' home
I'll get a D U I

I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
I'll be reelin' on my feet
I'll be a one-man Conga line
Don't tell me to take a seat
I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
nose red as a reindeer's
Drink right thru the holidays
Won't be sober 'til New Year's

I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
so just you wait & see
Lose my balance comin' in the door
That's how drunk I'll be
I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
I don't know about you
But I'll be staggerin' drunk for Christmas
if it's the last thing that I doooo-woooo
(hic!)
End Notes:
-circa 2001 - 12/13/02

...and one of the most ironic things I've ever written, given that I don't even drink. (But after so many holiday seasons in the Service Sector, I have little trouble understanding why so many do... :| )

Seriously, though, folks, please drink and/or drive sensibly, and have a safe & happy holiday, everyone! :)
Flawed Logic (a Rant) by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Years ago, a friend of mine tried to start a band while I was in college, and I took some time out from writing fiction (in the couple year gap between the older Tradewinds manuscripts and The Book of Hondo) to write song lyrics. A lot of what I wrote was pretty lame, though it did yield a few that had a chance of becoming songs if the actual band itself had ever managed to fully form. This was a fragment of something I wrote, what was supposed to be a multi-part piece, though, looking at it years later, this was the only verse I think is actually worth anything.
No global warming, no nuclear winter
not with a bang, but a whimper
Hear the whisper, prosperity reverses
Plutopia, dreams rolled away in hearses
It's all the mind-numbing routines
just the extremes with no in-betweens
the lies that flash across the screens
It's the children chained to machines
while the world ignores their screams
and watches ads to buy their jeans
The end that always justifies the means
it's the chronic early loss of innocence
Decisions that don't make any sense
It's the TV news that always lies
who edit reality right before our eyes
tucked away in a digital disguise
It's all the things that we're denied
They promised us the world, but they lied
It's their endless corporate greed
their backs turned on those in need
The brain-dead masses who can't read
the everyday madness we all feed
The Code of Silence, children can be so cruel
who play by it to fit in, to be cool
The unwritten laws, the playground rules
and those who stand by & watch like fools
'til the Ignored shoot up their schools
The riots & looters, catacombs of computers
loopholes for murderers & polluters
Bandwagon recruiters & the American Jesus
We've met the enemy & he's us
To watch the Grid go crashing down
as lights blink out without a sound
They traded the future for the past
but it'll be lots of fun while it lasts
Common sense always stands trial
quick-fixes might work for awhile
just backups of all the lies on file
Plugged-in, turned-on world in denial
The fools who feed their minds junk-food
with over 100 million screwed
The sacred cows we all appease
while they do just as they please
That you can't trust what you've seen
on the all-knowing TV screen
MTV & Fox, peacocks & eyes
hijacks the facts, no big surprise
No one will realize 'til it's gone
Sit & watch the world Move On
In the Almighty Dollar we trust
while all we value turns to rust
I’ll show you culture in a handful of dust...
End Notes:
-circa 1999

As you can see, "Flawed Logic" mostly just turned out to be a long, angry paranoid rant written by a college-age insomniac, but I can't help thinking this verse, at least, might have made some decent song material.
Losing It by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Exactly What It Says On the Tin
Fighting hard against the stress
trying to get it off my chest
The voices say everything's OK
Why won't they just let me be?
I'm running out of sanity
Pretending everything's OK
And so no one can see
the walls are closing in on me
Please tell me everything's OK


This isn't how it's supposed to be
walking around in slow free-fall
But there's nothing wrong with me
I'm just losing it, that's all


Now I'm losing my touch
still stand to lose much
and everyone deceives me
Paranoid, losing my mind
but really, I'm just fine
You've gotta believe me
But it's torn my mind apart
now I'm afraid of the dark
Please don't leave me


This isn't how it's supposed to be
walking around in slow free-fall
But there's nothing wrong with me
I'm just losing it, that's all


Going nuts & bolts, total basketcase
when my thoughts race into hyperspace
and there's no road map
At first I can just ignore it
so no one will know before it
when I finally snap


One of "them" or one of "us"
it doesn't matter who you trust
(They'll all betray you)
They'll talk about your mental health
and how you really "need some help"
(They'll try to tame you)


This isn't how it's supposed to be
walking around in slow free-fall
But there's nothing wrong with me
I'm just losing it, that's all
End Notes:
-circa 1999, revised 2003

Much like "Insomnia" this was another attempt to capture how my life felt after over a year of living under frequent lack of sleep, while trying to cope with the stress of being both a full-time student, and a full-time worker. Both of which left you only part-time living. :|
Follow the Leader by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
The chase is on...
Join the high-speed pursuit— the chase is on
Just try to keep up or we'll be long-gone
Forget the radar gun, speed's all you need
Pedal to the metal— gimme jamming speed
Follow the trail wherever it goes
and where it ends, no one knows
Riding like an out-of-control speeder
Follow the path wherever it leads
burnin' rubber at break-neck speeds
when you're playing Follow the Leader


Come on! I'll give you a run for your money
Watch where you're goin' or things might get ugly
Eat your words (and my dust!) & swallow your pride
because you're in for a hell of a ride
Around the corners, around the bends
'cause no one knows just where it ends
There's no today or tomorrow either
On unending paths to who-knows-where
but we'll all find out when we get there
So cut to the left & I'll take the leader


On an endless highway it's an endless race
with people like us to keep the pace
It's perpetual motion out in the fast lane
Roll out with us in our infinite game

Real men don't use brakes
and no matter what it takes
I'll stay ahead of you
I'm faster than you'll ever be
You'll never get ahead of me
no matter what you do


If you can see thru the blurred tunnel-vision
then you'll avoid a crash course collision
And we just can't find the end of the line
but somehow we're still making damn good time
And this race is far from won
this journey's only just begun
at least according to the meter
We have all the speed we need
in order to move up & take the lead
if ya really wanna be the leader


Follow the trail wherever it goes
and where it ends, no one knows
Riding like an out-of-control speeder
Follow the path wherever it leads
cruisin' along at break-neck speeds
when you're playing Follow the Leader
End Notes:
-circa 1999, revised 03/18/03

This was an odd piece, one I originally wrote as a reflection on my time in Anchorage, Alaska, especially the summer of '96, when I spent a lot of time exploring the city's endless network of bike trails. Someday, I'd like to go back, but first, I would need a bike again. :P

FUN TRIVIA: "Real men don't use brakes!" is an actual Captain Falcon quote from the original (NES) F-Zero. :D
Pass It On by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
The Revolution is still on...
Here we are again, the next turn of the wheel
so how does it feel at the raw end of this deal?
The 7th Generation at the 11th Hour
Is there anyone left to fight the Power?
A hand to lend, something left to defend?
The Voice From the Back speaks up again
to question the answers, corrupting the youth
in the face of endless lies, I spit truth
Want proof? Look around you, it surrounds you
even after years of denial, it's found you
It was bound to, 'cause things are not what they seem
People gotta wake up from the American Dream
I could just scream, 'cause it's become a nightmare
There's no one left with the will to fight there
just let themselves go quietly into the night there
Any who might care, just try it, defy it
They say it's a riot, but I don't buy it
Won't be quiet, I'm down for the Unity
no diplomatic immunity, for you to see
opportunity is what's best for the community
In perpetuity, because united or divided
the fate of this world will be decided
by those of us who're still fighting it
Pass the flame to the next candle, lighting it
the light can only increase, won't be diminished
It's an endless task that's never finished
So many times, the outlines have been drawn
not over yet, the Revolution is still on


The place is here, the time is now, for revolution
to make a stand, no matter how, for resolution
Be part of the solution, not the problem
put our heads together & solve 'em
Spread the fire of learning & keep it burning
the freedom for which we're all yearning
Tables are turning, a reason to stand strong
Something's wrong, we knew it all along
it's a battle plan buried in a song
So take a chance before it's gone
Take some fire & pass it on


Alarms, a call to arms, a war declared
on the air, bombarding us with Subliminal Warfare
If you care, ask when speaking your mind became a crime?
Who says the Voice of Reason don't know how to rhyme?
I align myself with actions, not with factions
to combat Weapons of Mass Distraction
Search & destroy, trackin' down decoys
all the propganda, gimmicks & ploys
So where's the fire? The burning desire
to free ourselves from this Evil Empire?
To form an Alliance born of defiance
Reach out & break the Code of Silence
enforced by violence, calling all who represent
Droppin' science & history, past-to-present
All the players & the haters, critical commentators
to put aside their differences for later
Not mere spectators, be our own liberators
Investigators & reporters, witnesses the world over
to testify just like the wistleblowers
All the scholars & the ballers, the blue- & white-collars
the boycotters & militant pacifists to holler
With anarchists who resist with raised fists & shout
won't Cease & Desist without the unemployed, the burnouts
or anyone else who has the guts to turn out
Put the word out, we all have something at stake
'til everyone awakes, what will it take?
For the hour grows late, how long will we wait
to change our course from a preventable fate?
Don't hesitate, join hands & take a stand
rise up & join forces while we still can


The place is here, the time is now, for revolution
to make a stand, no matter how, for resolution
Be part of the solution, not the problem
put our heads together & solve 'em
Spread the fire of learning & keep it burning
the freedom for which we're all yearning
Tables are turning, a reason to stand strong
Something's wrong, we knew it all along
it's a battle plan buried in a song
So take a chance before it's gone
Take some fire & pass it on



Tell me...
Do you wanna have a choice? Wanna have a voice?
Wanna just be drowned out by all the white noise?
Do you wanna be maimed? Wanna be tamed?
For everything to just go on being the same?
Do you wanna be laid low for the status quo?
Without the answers, do you really wanna know?
Wanna be sedated? Wanna be medicated?
Just so that your life won't get "complicated"?
Wanna be sent to battle whenever sabers rattle?
Do you wanna just be herded like cattle?
Branded like sheep, fattened up on junk food?
To be bar-coded? Do you wanna be subdued?
Wanna be screwed over in the name of Order?
Just Business As Usual each fiscal quarter?
Do you wanna just complain? Wanna be restrained?
Just live in quiet desperation & pain?
Wanna buy the very chains that would bind you?
Just run 'til there's no place left they can't find you?
Do you wanna be betrayed? Wanna be afraid?
When you finally learn the price you've paid?
Wanna be too late? Wanna be the last? All by yourself?
All that's left when there is nobody else?
Or do you wanna be free? Want a brighter destiny?
Just to be? To take back your liberty?
If that New Day never came, we still fight just the same
This endless struggle for freedom is still game
From those who came before, take up the flame
Each line they draw, we'll cross it, make an investment deposit
to take the chance for tomorrow before we've lost it
because the best way to predict the future is to cause it


The place is here, the time is now, for revolution
to make a stand, no matter how, for resolution
Be part of the solution, not the problem
put our heads together & solve 'em
Spread the fire of learning & keep it burning
the freedom for which we're all yearning
Tables are turning, a reason to stand strong
Something's wrong, we knew it all along
it's a battle plan buried in a song
So take a chance before it's gone
Take some fire & pass it on
End Notes:
-circa 2003, revised 07/05/05

One September night, I fell asleep in the United States of America... I've spent more than a decade trying to figure out where the hell I woke up. :(

After all these years, on this grim anniversary, I can think of no more meaningful way to honor the dead than to bring back all of the freedoms they enjoyed in life for future generations.
No Way Out (The Empty Set) by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Monotonous Phenomenon
Abandon all hope, ye who can't cope
We're all trapped in a prison of our own design
Locked in a game we don't want to play
faced with a problem so hard to define
Real life's not what it seems, just bad dreams
I hear the screams inside of their minds
The Sleepers are shaken but can't awaken
the key's been taken, the one thing we can't find
We just play along, but we know something's wrong
we're trapped in a prison without walls
We just walk around, no answers to be found
just lines of locked doors in the halls
In a trance the world sleeps, dreaming empty dreams
a broken record, a repeat-looping tape
From the nightmare no one wakes, no matter what it takes
I've gotta wake up & make my escape


The mirrors that surround us & confound us
There's no escape— they're all around us
and I want out
Invisible walls that keep us boxed in
Trapped in this reality, we're locked in
There's no way out

Nowhere to run to (No way out!)
No shelter to turn to (No way out!)
Looking for the back door
but it's not there anymore
There's no way out
No way out!
No way out!


Breathing dead air, there's nothing out there
Never anything new, we've seen it all before
Living nowhere, existential nightmare
There are no mysteries left to explore anymore
Mindless repetition disease, but no one else sees
like they're all under some kind of spell
Whole world on your shoulders, it's like pushing a boulder
up a long hill for all eternity in Hell
Just stare at the screen, graveyard of creativity
living death of variety, of every category
Each time things must happen in the same order
There are no new ages, just the same old story
over & over & over & over & over


Lost in this place, paths criss-crossed in this place
Don't know how I even got into this place
but I want out
It's everywhere, no matter where I gaze
the whole world folds up into the maze
There's no way out

Nowhere to run to (No way out!)
No shelter to turn to (No way out!)
Looking for the back door
but it's not there anymore
There's no way out
No way out!
No way out!


I want to wake up from my life
this just can't be all there is
What's already been, all over again
all the possibilities I miss
Just dead silence, even violence
would be better than this


This is for everything everyone's afraid to say
I just can't let things be the same old way
Could we handle the truth of our history?
That we are surrounded by great mysteries
is known to all but the most ignorant
It has to be said, it's just too important
Miserable people, pretending euphoria
in a hollow, bankrupt theme-park plutopia
It's all gone to hell, man, get out while you can
If you stay, you will suffer like I am
Unnatural selection, warped evolution
It's the Empty Set— there's no solution
Can't get used to just dragging on & on
This life is a monotonous phenomenon
Where I ask myself every now & then:
"Are we in this episode again?"
Infinite possibilities die everyday
endless forks blocked for the same old way
It's always March, it's always Thursday
and you have no choice but to stay
Run around in Reality Squared
but you'll never go anywhere...


There's no way out!
No way out!
No way out!
No way out!
End Notes:
-circa 2000 - 03/21/03

This whole piece is a very personal expression of my own experience with Monotony.
Wrong Track by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
catching the Mystery Train...
Standing on this empty platform
in echoing silence, I wait
All alone, waiting on the unknown
wondering why I still hesitate
Blank ticket, my mind fumbles
but can't remember how I got there
Staring out into dark tunnels
leading from nowhere to nowhere
No surprise, the light at the end
of the tunnel turns out to be a train
Still don't know where it's taking me
but I guess I can't complain


And you're on your way, destination unknown
someplace you can only go all on your own
All aboard the Mystery Train
but is it bound for something more
you hope to find where you've never been before?


All the passenger cars are empty
and the destinations don't connect
But this train runs thru every one
It makes the hair stand on my neck
Like in some disturbing dream
I know I'm not quite alone
I feel unseen eyes & half-seen
glimpses from the corners of my own
I can tell something's all wrong
although I'm not sure just how
All I know is that I don't belong
so I want off this ride right now


And you're on your way, destination unknown
someplace you can only go all on your own
All aboard the Mystery Train
but is it bound for something more
you hope to find where you've never been before?


Next stop: Nowhere
Get out of there
You're on the wrong track
End of the line
You're out of time
Now there's no going back


I jumped off at the next stop
for I just wasn't ready yet
to step out into the unknown
and face the dangers to be met
As I trudge back up the stairs
I don't remember walking down
my own footsteps & the echoes
down the tunnel such an eerie sound
But there will be a next time
I know but can't quite explain
Swear next time I'll be ready
when I board the Mystery Train


When you're on your way, destination unknown
someplace you can only go all on your own
All aboard the Mystery Train
but is it bound for something more
you hope to find where you've never been before?

And looking out into the darkness you descend
ever wonder if there's a light at the end?
Aboard the Mystery Train
trying to prove something you can't bring back
or did you just end up on the wrong track?
End Notes:
-circa 1999 - 12/04/02

Much like with "Ghost Towns" there were a couple lines that found their way into the Book of Hondo, but this piece didn't really come into its own until a couple years later, when I lived in Oregon. For me, at least, there were only two seasons: Rainy Season, and Allergy Season. Before I discovered Claritin had gone over-the-counter, '02 was the worst year for allergies in my life, as regular meds just weren't cutting it, and I eventually wound up with a massive sinus infection that summer. Much as I loved the Willamette Valley, the Valley just didn't love me back. :(
At the time, I was working as a factory temp drone in Springfield, doing 12-hour days, sometimes 6 days a week, and my room was upstairs, meaning that I slept in a sauna when I actually got to. My sinus infection eventually got so bad, I had to sleep propped up, because I would randomly stop breathing, and wake up coughing and sputtering. As you can imagine, that made falling back asleep a difficult proposition. :|
One of those times, I must've stayed flatlined longer than usual, as all I can remember is nothingness. A darkness darker than black. A silence so complete, my ears didn't even ring. A stillness so perfect, it was terrifying. The Void.
Time being rather subjective in states like that, I have no idea how long that lasted, though I doubt it could've been more than a minute or so, or I wouldn't be here writing this. Still, it haunted me for a long time, and the more I thought about it, the more I concluded that it was simply an interesting example of how subjective near-death experiences actually are. In the end, I guess it just means that, in my heart of hearts, I just don't expect much of an afterlife...
It was only later, after the Holiday Temp Season fizzled out, and I had all the time in the world for several months of unemployment, that I revisited "Wrong Track" and realized that, rather than some kid getting cold feet about running away (which never really fit my own life story anyway), it made a perfect framework for recounting the day that death scared me back to life.
Give 'em Hell! by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
take a stand
If you've seen this all before
Give 'em hell!
If you already know the score
Give 'em hell!
If you've been shaken to the core
Pick yourself up off the floor
get back up & stand once more
where others fell
Some things you just can't ignore
Kick down the door & give 'em what-for
if you can't watch this anymore
Give 'em hell!


Stand true, no matter the cost
Give 'em hell!
Ain't about who won or lost
Give 'em hell!
It's about if you stand up or not
Find yourself put on the spot
even if you don't feel so hot
kick & scream & yell
Some battles just have to be fought
Ready or not, show 'em what ya got
Go on & give it your best shot
Give 'em hell!


If they won't let you have your say
Give 'em hell!
But they still want you to pay
Give 'em hell!
Let 'em know you're here to stay
Hell to pay, come what may
If that's how they wanna play
you may as well
Just let 'em know it's not OK
Don't just let them have their way
not with you, not today
Give 'em hell!


If they won't let you have your share
Give 'em hell!
Or they say you don't belong there
Give 'em hell!
Say you're not going anywhere
Just 'cause life ain't fair
never give in to despair
Break the spell
When it seems more than you can bear
speak up if you care, resist if you dare
with your fist in the air
Give 'em hell!


If you live your life with pride
Give 'em hell!
Walk down a path that you decide
Give 'em hell!
Your fighting spirit never died
Standing tall, nothing to hide
Give it all, don't just say you tried
Never can tell
Won't let 'em take you for a ride
after all that you've survived
Keep on fighting 'til you're satisfied
Give 'em hell!

Still fighting on your own side
Tyranny defied, you won't be denied
at the turning of the tide
Give 'em hell!

Give 'em hell!

Give 'em hell!

Give 'em hell!
End Notes:
-Summer 2012, revised April 2017

Something that popped into my head that summer, and just kept growing. 2017 (for, uh, some reason ;) ) seems to be shaping up to be a banner year for protest songs. Perhaps even a *Bruce* Banner year for them, before it's done. =P
Without a Trace by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
when you look back on your life, and start to see too much of it as DBZ time-skips... :(
Dear Stranger,
It must seem odd to hear from me again
So tell me, friend, how have you been?
A lot's happened since last our paths crossed
too much to make up for all the time we've lost
I don't really know why I waited so long
or where the hell all the time has gone
But at last I've finally caught up with you
and I hope you still want to be friends too


These days, all of my old friends
are nowhere to be found
And sometimes I just wish the tape
of my life could be rewound
Where I've gone, where you've been
all your memories, gone with the wind
A flicker, around the corner half a face
A part of my life, gone without a trace


Tell me, old friend
Where have you been? Why can't we go back?
After all these years, it's so hard to keep track
Why do old friends always have to go away?
Over the years none of them get to stay
If things were the way they were back in the day
when we had all the time in the world to play
In this life, memories are all we really own
Just faded pictures when you're all alone


These days, all of my old friends
are nowhere to be found
And sometimes I just wish the tape
of my life could be rewound
Where I've gone, where you've been
all your memories, gone with the wind
A flicker, around the corner half a face
A part of my life, gone without a trace


I just can't stand it anymore
Gotta get moving, out the door
To me, it's worth fighting for
I know if I don't go & find
all the friends I left behind
I swear I will lose my mind


Because all of my old friends
are nowhere to be found
And sometimes I just wish the tape
of my life could be rewound
Perhaps some time we'll meet again
I'll always remember until then
Just a flicker, around the corner half a face
And a part of my life that's gone without a trace
End Notes:
-circa 1998 - 05/13/06

Even nowadays, I wonder, why can't the friends you grew up with also be the friends you grow old with? :(
I Want My Country Back by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
One September night, I fell asleep in the United States of America, and I've spent many years trying to figure out where the hell I woke up... :(
I fell fast asleep one September night
in the United States, but since the dawn's early light
I've spent so many long years, choked-up
trying to figure out where the hell I woke up
Whether the world really changed, no one can agree
after the day that we all forgot how to be free
A most Unpatriotic Act to exploit people's fear
railroaded to get Manufactured War back in gear
For all the world to see, our National Insecurity
became a show of international immaturity
The Poverty Draft hijacked the Few & the Proud
while turning the flag into a burial shroud
And the rocket's red glare, drones cutting thru the air
dashed hopes day & night that their towns would be spared
Silence answered their prayers as the uranium dust settles
sowing dragon's teeth for the next generation's battles
"Mission Accomplished" said the Chickenhawk Administration
A pre-emptive strike, the next chapter of Low Expectations
No rule of law, just Shock & Awe
Total Information Awareness for all
Perilous, anything but hilarious
scheming nefarious, no Age of Aquarius
This is the New American Century
Pax Americana, more Manifest Destiny
Enron, Halliburton & no-bid contracts
Blackwater slam-dunk, cash "bricks" in Iraq
Too many scandals to keep track
but I just want my country back



(chorus)
I want my country back
Return to the Land of the Free
Get the Great Experiment back on track
and restore justice & liberty

It's time we faced the facts
our Republic's been hijacked
All our freedoms under attack
that's reason enough to act

I want my country back
Is this still the Home of the Brave?
As all of our foundations crack
is there anything left to save?

Don't let Red, White & Blue fade to black
I want my country back



No change of horse, gotta Stay the Course
and keep going the wrong way, of course
with yet another display of force
To stay divorced from facts, armchair soldiers
keep crossing borders & "turning corners"
around the same block of funeral mourners
Just following orders, each week, a new excuse for why
our kids will stay in harm's way 'til the oil runs dry
Just mindless flag-waving while they stole our savings
enslaving others people's children to feed our cravings
Rantings & ravings, we gave an inch, they took a mile
Gathering "intelligence" files, with Cheshire Cat smiles
to prosecute others for crimes they should stand trial
and so United We Sit, one nation in denial
All the while, Faith-Based Voting & scads of loose chads
let all the voting public know they've been had
A tale of betrayal, of failsafes that failed
Too Big to Fail, but not too big to Bail
For want of a nail, took us all hostage for a trillion bucks
So if all our lives are really worth that much
perhaps it's time we all started living like it
and claim your slice, no matter how small the pie gets
Amoral amortization of our lives for labor
years slaving away for worthless scraps of paper
Yes We Can, sabotage infrastructure beyond belief
from the power grid & rural lines to disaster relief
We remain Occupied, both at home & abroad
Housing bubbles, banking & college loan fraud
Poverty & pollution's all they give back
More oil to drill & water tables to frack
Our prosperity keeps getting looted & sacked
but I just want my country back



(chorus)
I want my country back
to return to the Land of the Free
The Great Experiment back on track
and restore justice & liberty

It's time we faced the facts
our Republic's been hijacked
All our freedoms under attack
that's reason enough to act

I want my country back
Is this still the Home of the Brave?
As all of our foundations crack
is there anything left to save?

Don't let Red, White & Blue fade to black
I want my country back



Stop pretending there'll be a happy ending
until there's nothing left worth defending
The future's being decided here & now
Become the example, showing the world how
With liberty & justice for all
opportunity & prosperity, not Great Walls
Put the lamp back by the Golden Door
and see human progress restored
Make a stand for the this land
against those who had a hand
Together band we can demand
this corruption will not stand...


Make America Late Againâ„¢, falling behind the times
of the 21st Century's ever-shifting paradigms
The American Dreamâ„¢ reduced to an infomercial
living a montage that's nothing but a dress rehearsal
Climate on the brink of hotter, don't drink the water
just liquid bread & circuses, brought to you by these sponsors
Lobbyists buying legislation & vexatious litigation
Industry Capture, secret laws & Shadow Regulation
Capitulation, every henhouse "guarded" by a Fox
Left in the cold, so bury your heart at Standing Rock
While Wall $treet moochers sold out our futures
with police armed & armored like stormtroopers
Catch-22 surveillance laws that make no sense
Since when was jaywalking a capital offense?
Hands up! Don't shoot! Can't breathe! Stay Woke!
When only Blue Lives Matter, police stops are no joke
Week after week, their dirty secrets sprung a leak
just a squeak, when you're afraid to speak
Freedom's pulse grows weak, no time for waiting
on Chief Executive Orders, just stunts for ratings
For the world's most plutocratic populist
Tell us, can no one put a stop to this?
Can we become our own heroes & save the day
to make truth & justice the American Way
Career politicians & hacks, cronies & quacks
They won't be stopped by "evidence" or facts
No matter how deep the deck is stacked
we're going to take our country back



(everybody)
We want our country back
to return to the Land of the Free
The Great Experiment back on track
to restore justice & liberty

It's time they faced the facts
The Republic they've hijacked
We have reason enough to act
We just need a plan of attack

We want our country back
This is still the Home of the Brave
Even if the foundations crack
There's still something left to save

Sold out our future in this present past
We want our future back
Human progress going nowhere fast
We want our country back

And we'll keep on fighting
No matter how deep the deck is stacked
Too many wrongs still need righting
We're taking this country back

Won't let Red, White & Blue fade to black
We want our country back
End Notes:
-2003 - Spring, 2017
That Monkey Is Not Your Friend by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
Thank you for smoking. :/
The monkey was never cool, and neither were you,
just imitating a spokesmascot for a social mirage.
You listened to his song and dance,
and now he dances on your back all day,
your life shortening to the time between fixes.

Of course, these days,
that monkey no longer pretends to be your friend.
You're old enough to know better,
but still act like you're too young to care.
Even as the monkey's dance ages you beyond your years.

Will you let that monkey ride you into an oxygen mask?
The monkey won't be the one struggling to stay alive
from one breath to the next.
The monkey will still be there,
having lost any hint of innocence.

The monkey will still be there, laughing.
Banging cymbals no one else can hear
to celebrate as you draw your last, ragged breath.
To seal the deal as you're buried in an ashtray.
End Notes:
-12/07/2016, revised 08/08/2017

Brought to you by Big Tobacco, buying the rest of your life from you, one pack at a time. :(

Dedicated to my grandmother. I spent my childhood watching her die a slow lingering death from emphysema, from the same pack-a-day smoking that turned my grandfather's voice to gravel. Even my earliest memories of her, she was already frail and sickly, and by the time I was in the fourth grade, it had already reduced her to a decrepit monkey skeleton in an oxygen mask. She was a kind, yet sad, woman, already understanding that she wouldn't live to see any of her grandchildren graduate, or get married, or embark on any of life's other paths.

Sadly, a quarter century later, Hollywood still stinks like an ashtray at certain times of the day, and I force myself not to look at faces inhaling death and cancer, as every one of them starts look like my grandmother if I gaze long enough.
P.O.W. (Prisoners of War) by shadesmaclean
Author's Notes:
If you don't speak up for others, who'll speak up for you?
Freedom was something we held a state funeral
for, September 12th, yet we hesitate to recall
Liberty got kidnapped in an unmarked van
never to be seen or heard from again
Justice blindfolded by paranoid agencies
who never slept 50 years thru World War III
A rude awakening after a decade of calm
to find the Spooks waiting in the wings all along
to start World War IV, fought wihout respect
by those who claim to Serve and Protect
A war being waged against Freedom itself
a fight for the future that needs some help
All it can get, if we don't want to regret
To repeat history, all must do is forget
Where no one else knows what to expect
such a Chilling Effect, always wondering who's next


The target list of a shadow war
that the rest of us are supposed to ignore
Names & faces that you never knew
They fought for your freedom, too
Prisoners of War

Some are people whose only crime
was being in the wrong place at the wrong time
Unpersoned, "disappeared" Soviet-style
"Rendered" to undisclosed locations while
politicians call for more

They were scapegoated & railroaded
right thru the System
to keep the news sugar-coated
against our better wisdom
we now ignore

All along, they've been keeping score
Got dragged and ushered out the back door
and nobody knows where they are anymore
or what they're even chained-up for
Prisoners of War


The truth is on life-support most of the time
from those who want the facts to be redefined
Truth is not libel, but a flimsy shield, one finds
when Free Speech is outpriced by legal gripes
SLAPPed it with the First Amendment fight of its life
No justice, just silence, when money decides
Big Lies with matching budgets and screentime
to sweep facts under the rug with bold headlines
when governments wage war on their own citizens
When it's a crime just to be a witness to them
cameras met with guns & belligerence
Made an entire industry of imprisonment
Investigators who got too close the real story
taken before they could reveal how much more we
don't know, witness to things that should be seen
stories that go untold on your TV screen


The target list of a shadow war
that the rest of us are supposed to ignore
Names & faces that you never knew
They fought for your freedom, too
Prisoners of War

No oath sworn, wore no uniform
Risked it all to keep you informed
Still speaking truth to power
Signal boost 'til the eleventh hour
Know what's in store

Still digging for the truth for
us in every investigation
Fling a light into the future
for the next generation
fighting World War IV

All along, they've been keeping score
Got dragged and ushered out the back door
and nobody knows where they are anymore
or what they're even chained-up for
Prisoners of War


Prisoners of a war never declared, it's frightening
held captive in a war some didn't even know they were fighting
No terms or conditions, just assume the position
taken for a ride called Extraordinary Rendition
Reverse Underground Railroad of unmarked vans & planes
all those whose disappearance remains unexplained
Just an Executive Decision, no supervision
one-way trip to the world's most populated prisons
In no position to criticize others as long we enforce
the very methods of all the places we say we deplore
Those who've been "rendered" to distant shores
shoved in unmarked vans & ushered out the back door
Who don't even know what they're chained up for
Their families no longer know where they are anymore
knowing the next disappearance could be yours
But no one one want to be next in line, of course
Insidious, how slowly tyranny can sneak up
When they come for you, who'll be left to speak up?


The target list of a shadow war
That the rest of us are supposed to ignore
Names & faces that you never knew
They fought for your freedom, too
Prisoners of War

No oath sworn, wore no uniform
Risked it all to keep you informed
Still speaking truth to power
Signal boost 'til the eleventh hour
Know what's in store

Still digging for the truth for
us in every investigation
Fling a light into the future
For the next generation
fighting World War IV

Not soldiers, but all the same they fought
Defending freedom at home as they do abroad
So that soldiers can come back home to find
The same country and liberties they left behind
Who'll you speak for?

It's easy to just duck and cover
When trouble comes barging thru
But if you don't speak up for others
who'll be left to speak up for you
when they kick down your door?

All along, they've been keeping score
Got dragged and ushered out the back door
and nobody knows where they are anymore
or what they're even chained-up for
Prisoners of War
End Notes:
-2003 – Sept 11, 2017

This one is dedicated to anyone who's ever been threatened, jailed, beaten, tortured or murdered in the name of truth and justice. You don't have to wear a uniform to fight for freedom.
This story archived at http://absolutechaos.net/viewstory.php?sid=11310