Monday, December 14, 2015

You Trashed My Christmas - The 2015 Christmas Compilation

It's becoming a Christmas tradition for people to say "It sure don't feel like Christmas;" but this year, when the current weather in Manhattan feels like it was shipped here via time machine from Memorial Day, and the only white stuff for miles is the blizzard of dandruff blowing off of Donald Trump's hairjob, it's even more of a disconnect to match my inner clock to the calendar date. 

Which is probably why the first stab at this year's Christmas Compilation felt like Music To Nap By. Not that naps aren't a bad thing (except when you take them alone); it's just that when it feels like June outside and the sun still dips below the horizon around 4PM, your brain either short-circuits or shuts downor both—which means you need an even bigger kick in the musical drawers to get up and party.

So (three versions later) here it is, this year's mix of all-girl goodies, back-of-the-garage boppers, and blues-heavy rockers, in two zip files. Shout-out to Venice Beach Barry with Track 23: Steph, Shannon, Megan and Leesa with Track 11; everybody watching The Flash with Track 1 (Gorilla City on Earth 2!); and everybody in Oz with the Bonus Track.

I wish you all the best of the season. Merry Happy, everybody.

1   Caitlin Snow Explains Christmas – Danielle Penabaker
2   You Trashed My Christmas – The Primitives
3   Santa Bring My Baby Back To Me – The Love Me Nots
4   Run Run Rudolph – The Dollyrots
5   Santa’s Got A GTO – Ramonas
6   Rockin’ In My Stockin’ – Grub Dog Mitchell
7   Don’t Mess With My Tequila – Backstreet Girls
8   Check it Out Santa – Snooky Pryor
9   It’s Bad To Have The Blues At Christmas – Charlie Daniels
10 Christmas Blues – Canned Heat
11 Mystic Snowman –Lez Zeppelin
12 Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairies – The Fedora Club
13 Baby, It's Cold Outside - Louis Armstrong & Velma Middleton
14 The Ghost of Christmas Past – Deidre & The Dark
15 Christmas Sweater – Alaska Thunderfuck, Courtney Act & Willam
16 From Head To Mistletoe – Courtney Act
17 Mistletoe – Colbie Caillat
18 Mistletoe On Death Row – Dale Watson
19 The Heartache Can Wait – Brandi Carlile
20 Christmas In the City (Remix) – Elizabeth Chan
21 Christmas In New York – The Ellas
22 Hanukkah In The Village – Rachael Sage
23 Christmas in LA – Haley Deakers
24 Trim Your Tree – John Verity Band
25 Light My Tree – Ashley Davis & John Doyle
26 Happy Holiday Y’all – Robert Earl Keen
27 Dirt Sledding – The Killers
28 Alone On Christmas Day – Phoenix
29 I’m Gonna Be Warm This Winter – Kylie Minogue
30 Cold Cold Winter – The Pixies Three
31 Yabba Dabba Yuletide – The Brian Setzer Orchestra
32 There’s Trouble Brewin’ – Jack Scott
33 Xmas Record Hop – Black Knights
34 Christmas Is Knockin’ At Your Door – Rockabilly Boogie Band
35 Sleigh Bell Rock – Three Aces And A Joker
36 Up On The Housetop – Reba McEntire
37 Too Fat For The Chimney – Deborah Conway & Willy Zygier
38 Fat Santa – Fruteland Jackson
39 Doing The Santa Claus – Huey Piano Smith & The Clowns
40 Because I’m Santa – The Dollyrots
41 Bonus Track

You Trashed My Christmas Part 1

You Trashed My Christmas Part 2

No Single Victory

for Warren Ellis

                           Lots of small victories is better than one big one.
                           No single victory changes everything. Lots of little 
                           ones change a whole spread of things.
                                                  —Warren Ellis

No single victory changes the world.
   Victories are like snowflakes—each one’s part
Of a great blizzard, flake after flake hurled
   Against grief and loss, like a lonely dart.
It may feel pointless, like fighting the tide.
   It’s not. No single victory will fail
To tip the scales a little to the side
   You fight for. Each one is a precious nail
In Failure’s coffin, or a tiny knife
   That scrapes against the comfortable chain
That our kind jailers like to call “real life”—
   That keeps them safe by keeping us from pain.
      And if we choose to fight until we’re free,
      That outcome takes no single victory. 


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Autumn Movie Rundown

Wondering what movies to see before they all get crowded out by Hunger Games 4 and holiday Oscar bait?


The Sure Things: Room and Spotlight

The less you know about either of these, the better. But even if you read the novel or read the Boston Globe fourteen years ago, you will not be disappointed. Spotlight is the best reporter movie since All The President’s Men, and a way better Boston movie than Black Mass. And Room is alternately sad-heartbreaking and joyful-heartbreaking.

On second thought, just leave him there.

The Crowd Pleaser: The Martian

AKA Mars Needs Potatoes.  It’s smart and fun and uplifting while you’re watching it, but on reflection it’s like the outer space version of one of those star-studded 50’s Cecil B DeMille extravaganzas, where the whole is smaller than the sum of its parts, and the thrills are ultimately bogus because let’s face it, none of the A-list actors are ever in any real danger. Except Sean Bean.  (Poor Sean. The older he gets, the more I wish he’d been James Bond instead of Pierce Brosnan.)

The Smart Thriller: Sicario

Remember how LA Confidential kept turning into a different movie every twenty minutes? This film doesn’t have that many jagged moves, but the movie it starts out to be is as different from what it turns into as Alice’s Victorian England is from Wonderland. A morally ambiguous poisoned cookie of a film that truly deserves to be compared to a Graham Greene thriller or a John le Carrè novel, unlike


The Faux Thriller: Bridge Of Spies

Be warned. Reviewers calling this film “morally ambiguous” or comparing it to John le Carrè are drinking the Spielberg Kool-Aid. There is never any question that Tom Hanks’ James Donovan is morally correct in everything he does, and having at least one person every ten minutes confront him by acting like a goose-stepping anti-Communist d-bag is not drama, it’s propaganda. Watch it for (a) the skillful way that Spielberg makes that propaganda feel like a real ethical struggle, instead of a foregone moral conclusion, and (b) Mark Rylance’s Rudolf Abel, whose every line and look hints at a fascinating but unknowable inner life.

The Comfort Thriller: SPECTRE

Part of the thrill of seeing Casino Royale was thinking: “Holy crap—the Bond movies can go anywhere now!” Part of the disappointment of seeing SPECTRE is thinking: “Crap—they’ve just re-set the Timothy Dalton status quo.” (And—I know it’s a big spoiler, but the pun is too good to pass up—they’ve also turned Blofeld into Bro-feld.) In a way, it’s the first old school James Bond movie Daniel Craig has made, which to me—given all that Casino Royale potential—made it like the British version of Mission Impossible 5: Our Hero Goes Rogue Again To Save The World.

The Thrill-less Gothic: Crimson Peak

Absolutely gorgeous to look at, this film would have been an instant classic if the script had been given as much work as the art direction.  But the horror movie of the trailers is actually a Gothic Bad House story, with a heroine who is like an American Bronte cousin, ghosts (all female) who actually aid her, and a mansion that is, at one and the same time, both claustrophobic and as wide-open as Grand Central Station. I walked out of this film wishing I could cast Tom Hiddleston as Percy Shelley, Mia Wasikowska as Mary Shelley, Jessica Chastain as Caroline Lamb, and Tom Hardy as Byron, and just have them tell ghost stories for two hours.


The Near Ms: Suffragette

Sometimes the way that a film is, well, filmed, gets in the way of the story it wants to tell. This film is all hand-held cameras, natural lighting, immense close-ups, and swift editing, which actually kept me at arm’s reach instead of bringing me closer to the characters. In other words, it’s a period piece filmed in a modern-day manner. You may have a different opinion about whether or not this works, but I walked out thinking that if I stripped the dialogue away, I would have no idea what was going on in the story. That said, there’s a great story here. I just thought it paled in comparison to the way this one is told.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Everyone says “Don’t say that!” when I say
   “I don’t have much time left” or “If I live.”
But thinking that there’ll always be a day
   When I’m around is foolish.  Life’s a sieve.
Days dribble out of it until they’re gone.
   We only get so many, and don’t know
The number—yet we act like we’ll see dawn
   After dawn unending in this brief show.
And that’s delusional, like living near
   Volcanoes and ignoring earth’s deep drumming.
No matter where we go, it’s coming here.
   If it’s not here already, then it’s coming.
      And when it does, I know that it will be
      The one thing I’ll live long enough to see.


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Friday, November 13, 2015

You Were My Dream

You were the dream I woke up from, the warm
   Comforter magic-carpeting away
My worthless doubts, till hope became the norm
   And you became the sun that lit my day.
You were the sun that had to set, the light
   By which I saw with total clarity
A world of victories without a fight
   And lucky stars that only favored me.
You were my sky of dead and dying stars
   Whose winking was a comfort from above—
The smile that cut away my prison bars—
   The soul whose quest I never wearied of—
      My soul, my smile, my stars, my bright sun beaming,
      Who always loved me back while I was dreaming.

Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Monday, November 9, 2015

The Lady Talks Of Wisdom


“How did you get to be so wise?” you said.
   “By making tons of mistakes,” I replied,
“And it’s not really wisdom—just a head
   That catalogues the stupid things I’ve tried
And says DON’T GO THERE.” “So: experience,”
   You said, and I said: “Yes, the painful kind.
The kind with scars, the kind that builds a fence
   Around my feelings, swears all roads are mined,
And tells me not to dare because I’ll die.”
   “Not by my hand,” you said, and opened yours;
And even though I knew it was a lie,
   For vows are nothing but disguised trapdoors,
      I put my scarred and hopeful hand in his.
      It was not wise, but then love never is. 


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

An Open Letter To Journalists Everywhere From The Republican Presidential Candidates

Dear “Journalists”:  After that last debate
When you refused to let us bloviate
About our plans to build a wall in Texas
To keep out all those border-crossing Mexes—
Attacked, with hand grenades of verity,
Our made-up plans for real prosperity—
And asked us to renounce some old quotations
Or sketchy corporate affiliations—
After all that, we think it’s crystal clear:
You need to be reminded why you’re here.
It’s not to nitpick record or credential;
Your job’s to make us all look Presidential—
To feed raw meat to our best attributes
And not reveal we’re all just empty suits.
Glad-handing is the purpose of this show.
Ask what we stand for, not what we don’t know.
You hear “debate” and you think “controversial.”
This isn’t a debate—it’s our commercial.
We must be treated deferentially,
Not asked hard questions about policy.
The toughest question that we want to hear
Is “Sir—I have to ask—are you sincere?” 

You say the people want honest debates?
That’s not the way this country operates.
The people want to know that what they fear
And rage at can be made to disappear.
They don’t want details—they just want it done.
That’s why we don’t need details—we’re their gun.
Just like those folks need us to point and shoot,
We need you not to question us, but root—
Root for the values that we represent:
For cheers, reward; for questions, punishment. 

The people know when they’ve been served thin beer.
We’re here to tell them what they need to hear,
While you treat them like they’re dumb and uncouth
Because they’d rather dream than hear the truth.
The truth is that the truth’s not mandatory
When all you’re doing is telling a story.
Real voters don’t believe that it makes sense
To subject our beliefs to evidence.
The error that you’re making here is grievous—
We don’t want them to know us, just believe us.
That’s why we need these dumb debates so much—
They help us to display the common touch,
So even though we have a ton of cash
From rich white backers, we can speak white trash.
And though the masquerade sticks in our throats,
It’s what we need to do to get their votes:
We run the whole machine and act like cogs—
We’re overlords who act like underdogs—
So honest folks won’t give us the stink-eye
Or plain despise us ‘cuz we own the pie.
In fact, deep down, the poorest of them love it
When we pretend they’ll get a big piece of it.
And even when we have to go among ‘em
In those depressing hick towns where God flung ‘em,
And hold our noses like we smelled a fart,
They know we have their best interests at heart
Because we say so, and they cry “Amen!”
Write that down—it’s why God gave you a pen. 

So here’s the deal, you crypto-left-wing moaners—
You treat us like we treat our well-off donors.
Show us respect, and we’ll keep you around:
When we say something dumb, don’t make a sound.
We’ll let you put us anywhere you’ve got
As long as you don’t put us on the spot.
Just be aware that you will face our wrath
When you subject our fiscal lies to math.
The people hate the scoffer who detracts.
It’s propaganda when you check our facts,
And facts are never trusted by the pious
Because they always have a left-wing bias.
Just nod your heads at all that we proclaim
To help our donors in the people’s name.
Nobody likes your smirking cynicism.
Echo the press release—that's journalism.
Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Wall

Where does it come from, that invisible
   Wall, that drops down and cuts me off from being
Touched by the joyful or the pitiful,
   And makes me blind to all my heart is seeing?
What triggers it? The fear of being hurt?
   The greater fear of feeling happiness?
Or is it just that I’m an introvert
   Who shies away from anything’s caress?
And when I say “Why bother?” or “Who cares?”
   Whose voice is that? Is it the inside me?
Is it the shell? Or one who never dares
   Because he’s too beat down for bravery?
      Who am I, that I need a wall of gray
      To save me as it shrivels me away?

Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

It Came From The Garage - A 2015 Halloween Mix

It's Halloween!  When we all treat processed chocolate like one of the three basic food groups.
Halloween!  When we lose count of all the little girls dressed as Frozen characters and the big girls half-dressed as things we don't want the little girls to see.
Halloween!  When we all dress up like monsters so the monsters won't come and get us, which means we'll all be seeing a ton of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump masks over the next few days.
Halloween!  Where we listen to, uhm, uh . . . song about how women are all witches?
Yeah.  There's not really a tradition of music-listening for this holiday, which means I had to dig a little to make a mix for it.  I tried to stay away from the obvious, assuming that you're all as tired as I am of hearing Bobby "Boris" Pickett singing "The Monster Mash," never mind all that women-are-witches crap, so I'm guessing a lot of these will be new to you. 
1   The Outer Limits – Opening
2   The Beast Of Sunset Strip – Teddy Durant
3   Tombstone #9 – Murray Schafe and the Aristocrats
4   Rockin’ In The Graveyard – Jackie Morningstar
5   Graveyard Stomp – Billy Ghoulston
6   Plan 9 From Outer Space
7   Pet Semetary – The Ramones
8   Devil Gate Drive – Suzi Quatro
9   Voodoo Voodoo – Lavern Baker
10  I’m The Wolfman – Round Robin
11  Werewolf – The Frantics
12  Maria Ouspenskaya Says It For All of Us
13  Werewolves Of London – Warren Zevon
14  The Mummy
15  The Mummy’s Bracelet – Lee Ross
16  The Mummy Walk (Walking Death) – The Contrails
17  I Was A Teenage Monster – The Keystones
18  (I Was A) Teenage Creature – Lord Luther and the Kingsmen
19  Screamin’ Ball (At Dracula Hall) - The Duponts
20  Bo Meets The Monster – Bo Diddley
21  Midnight Monsters Hop – Jack and Jim
22  The Purple People Eater – Sheb Wooley
23  The Purple People Eater Meets The Witchdoctor – The Big Bopper
24  I Put A Spell On You - Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
25  The Outer Limits – Sign-off
      Bonus Track

Here's the link:

2015 Halloween Mix

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Play Submission Blues - The Synopsis

Writing a synopsis is like embalming
   A newborn baby while it’s still alive.
That theatres all demand this is alarming—
   They want to read the map, not take the drive.
The build-up doesn’t matter—just the kicker.
   You have to make them feel it with a feeler.
They want the drama summed up on a sticker
   Like some play version of a used-car dealer.
So you remove what makes your play a play—
   Suspense, change, dialogue, time, laughs, surprise—
Till only the And Thens are left to say
   “And then he did this” or “And then she dies”—
     Just so some intern can, from his high chair,
      Read it and say: “You didn’t make me care.” 

Just like a single building’s not a town,
   Two lines of prose are not two hours of mood.
Plays are like vegetables—you boil them down,
   And they become as bland as British food.
The need to sum up so it can be grasped
   By baby fingers or the LCD
Is just as poisonous as being asped
   By the great viper of conformity—
The snake in the creative garden, who
   Catalogues everything by pigeonhole;
Decrees a list of facts defines the true;
   Believes that life is body parts, not soul;
      And doesn’t want your dialogue or scenes
      But just a paragraph on what it means.

A good play’s like a roller coaster ride—
   A laugh and scream and thrill delivery system.
And every time someone takes me aside
   And says: “These feelings I should have?  Just list ‘em!”
Something inside me dies—and when I grieve,
   It rises up, wielding a vengeful knife
Against those fools who actually believe
   A tombstone with two dates sums up a life.
When everything must add up at the end,
   Like general ledgers audited by Germans,
It’s not a work of art that I’ve just penned—
   It’s either how-to manuals or sermons.
      You want a message?  Here’s a telegram, Pop:

Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Old Times, or, You Pinter--You Brought 'Er.

Roundabout/American Airlines Theatre
With Clive Owen, Kelly Reilly and Eve Best
Directed by Douglas Hodge
You shouldn’t have to think of synonyms
for “loud” and “fast” when you see Pinter plays.
You shouldn’t have to say: “Oh I see how
that line’s supposed to work.  Too bad it didn’t.”
You shouldn’t have to walk out thinking: “Wow—
that was a buck-a-minute show that made
Pinter look like he won the Nobel Prize
for The Emperor’s New Playwrighting Clothes.”
But I did, and it was. Thanks, Roundabout.
I just learned something that I didn’t know—
the bestest way to botch a Pinter play:
release the anger underneath the surface.
Do that, and all the venom disappears;
do that, and not a line will have a sting.
When you speak Pinter dialogue in anger,
then not a single play of his will work.
Especially when the director has
weird tonal background music playing, that
sounds like someone from Radiohead trying
to be Brian Eno, and score subsonics
beneath the lines to tell the audience
that there’s a big eruption brewing, when
the lines themselves should act like a slow fuse.

Having done that, why, don’t forget to put
your three characters on a set designed
to look like the Pole Star surrounded by
circular white star trails—a set tricked out
to say that there is something universal
in what these characters are going through.
But Pinter isn’t saying that; and this
play’s not constructed to support that weight.
It’s too precise to be some ur-encounter
between two women and a man, like say
Adam and Eve and Lilith in the Garden.
There’s nothing primal here except the need
to own a woman by owning her past,
and that’s not mythical—that’s therapy.
There are no gods here, except maybe for
Robert Newton’s painter in Odd Man Out.
So this production’s grand attempt at lifting
this play up to the Sophoclean heights
succeeds in being just another broad
stroke that smears all the subtlety away,
an act of dramaturgical hubris.
And then, if you’re directing this, make sure
you put the icing on the overcooked
cake by telling the actors they can floor it
when they sit in the verbal driver’s seat,
and the play will turn into serve and volley,
not spin and strategy—a power game
instead of sniper fire—where every line’s
a rocket with a payload, instead of
the polite casing for a dum-dum bullet
that does more damage when it hits its mark
than when it's shot.

                              Wait—sorry—wrong—in fact,
don’t even think of guns at all. Think knives.
Albee is bullets. Strindberg is dueling pistols.
Pinter is knives, not noise. Each biting line
is part of some death of a thousand cuts,
where you drop dead before you know you’re bleeding.
It’s a knife fight, where every stab and thrust
happens so fast you never see the blade—
you only see the slicing mark it leaves.
And when the verbal bombs are dropped, they’re tossed
like nonchalant grenades into the room,
exploding not with booms but with dead silence.
The only way to tell if they’ve gone off—
to know for sure that those lines are explosive—
is by their victims, not the sound they make.
Except in this production, where the booms
shatter the windowpanes.  

Speaking of which,
windows and doors exist in Pinter’s words
through which an actor can reveal the fire
that stokes her inner engine—but if she
opens these windows or walks through that door
and lets us see the furor underneath
the “I remember you dead” monologue
(for instance), then it shrinks in size and fails
to be more than melodramatic rage
when—if it was delivered with the calm
of a casual shiv between the ribs—
it should have—and it would have—pierced to the heart. 

Sadly, there’s no such piercing in this blunt
production, though it has its little moments
when, despite all the actors and director
have done to kick him to the Times Square curb,
Pinter appears onstage in all his dark
and quiet terror. It’s not like they’re bad,
the actors; Clive Owen is smug and sleazy,
Kelly Reilly is a hot mystery,
and, yes, Eve Best lives up to her last name.
It’s just that what they’re doing doesn’t serve
what should be served up: something that looks chilled
but really scorches.  

The rule is noise here,
and what that noise says through it all is this:  

“You want to make Pinter look like a hack?
Turn all the speakers up to ten, and make
each bomb go off as loud as dynamite.” 

“Want to make Pinter look shallow?  Then make
each subtle dig as deep as the Pacific,
and fill the stage with snarling cats and dogs
instead of men and women who will hide
their inside animals behind the veil
of civilized behavior, and not once—
not once demean the anger in their souls
by freeing it.” 

And yes, it’s possible
To do Old Times as one great big “Fuck you!”
But it was written to do that while saying
“Well, bless your heart.” Anything more than that
is less than Pinter—it’s just acting out,
not acting. It feels wrong when feelings get
exposed instead of covered up in chatter.
It reads as shallow when you play the deep.
It hangs there weightless when you give it speed.
Bring it to a fast boil, and it will steam
but never scald.  To me, Pinter’s all simmer.
You can’t allow what’s cooking to heat up
Enough to blow its top; you have to keep
It frothing, so it never comes to rest.
It is the covered pot that boils the best.


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Growing Old Is A Shipwreck In Slow Motion

Shipwreck - Ivan Aivazovsky, 1854


Growing old is a shipwreck in slow motion.
   My helm no longer answers to the wheel.
I’m at the mercy of the wind and ocean.
   Decay has made a horror of my keel.
My prow is broken and my sails are tattered.
   The surge threatens to spill me in the drink.
If I should hit a reef, I will be shattered.
   If I try to outrun this storm, I’ll sink.
I look for calm. But there is only one
   That will embrace me when this squall is spent:
The calm after my journeying is done.
   When this old hull’s buried in sediment,
      I’ll take my lifelong promised place below
      And from the great deep to the great deep go. 


Copyright 2015 Matthew J Wells

Friday, October 2, 2015


       for Brian Friel


Green hills rear up to the sky
like an animal untamed
hills where hope and fancy lie
buried like a maiden name 

catalogued and pigeonholed
with a definite position
like the eddy and the shoal
like the devious tradition 

hills with native poetry
paved and garbled by translation
ancient earthy masonry
hidden by the renovation 

till the myth, like extra weight,
is abandoned on the march
to the street sign and the gate
to the label on the larch 

to a country where the breathless
and the breathing live apart
where the tale that once was deathless
is a legend on a chart

So the map becomes the town
and the hand that used to play
marks the shape and distance down
scaling all the land away 

grinding down the mother tongue
separating blood from kin
till the songs that now are sung
smell of drink and might have been 

till each river, pond and pebble,
stream and pasture, land and field
lie imprisoned like a rebel
underneath the tyrant's heel 


I sit in an Irish bar with a dark drink
surrounded by extras and understudies, friends,
and the one girl in the cast who cannot speak, 

all of them politely thinking to themselves
what I think, wondering why the actors with the names
and reputations did not bring my words alive. 

When did they give up, the words beyond them,
and simply move their mouths, making a loud
accented noise, not looking at each other ever? 

When was it when they first turned off their hearts
and all the rest became the vengeance of
the rote mechanical, connect-the-dots?   

When did the life end, and the motion start?
Like God, I offered life and they refused it,
preferring like Frankenstein to make their own. 

Now I sit here sipping a dark bitter drink
and wonder who really makes the monster failure,
is it the fault of life or those alive 

that breeds a death from rows of breathing words?
Is it the lack in us that halts the tongue
or something in the tongue that cannot speak, 

something that plays with us, like a hunting dog
tracking the thing we aim at, shoot at, kill,
only to run away, and leave us fogged  

repeating the heart of a rote speech or a song
till the words escape us, and we end the hard day
as I end this day, sitting and drinking, 

wondering what went wrong. 

                                          And then I think,
well, things go wrong--that is the way of things.
There are no other words.  Not tonight, at least. 

So I drain my drink, and stand in a cloud of smoke,
and a girl with clear tight skin falls at my feet
and gushes while I nod and laugh politely. 

Such a young thing, to be in awe of me,
whose promise hangs behind me like my shadow.
This young thing should find some words of her own, 

not borrow mine, words that she alone will taste
forever like perfection in her ear,
and never be spoken anywhere close to that 

by even the best of speakers, actors, friends,
because they will be her own kissing gifts,
heavily lying on a stranger's lip, 

heavier than the desire for bed behind
two traded tongues, heavier even than love
whose burden is to listen--or pretend to. 

And I shake this girl's hand and watch her leave,
and stumble into the tiny room where drink
is translated; and I think to myself 

that there is a kind of blessing in bad actors.
Because of them, the lines that they deliver,
the things they say that never come alive,  

are never blamed for being less than real.
The actor gets that blame; the fault is his.
Well, I'm all for that.  I'm for anything that makes 

the play look good, the words, the thought, the work.
They all survive, even when translation fails.
And though the heart, the language of the pulse 

which cries a thing unsayable in words,
seems dead, still there is life at the hard end
of this long day's work, because my words 

tonight were seeded into rows, tossed negligently
like hopeful planting in the teeth of famine
on eager fertile ground, on hopeful girls 

with clear clean skin and shining eyes, by those
like me who write and never speak their fears,
but plant a harvest in a field of ears.

Speaking in tongues that are and are not theirs
making their chatter kisses in the dark
dancing apart, two strangers on display
a blood red coat against a dirt brown shawl 

everything else will not be spoken of--
the hatred and the hatred in return
rote jealousy, betrayal, drunken pride--
because the unvoiced is the unbegotten 

because love is the synonym of souls
a man and woman trading pretty names
in bold misunderstood defiance of
a blood red coat against a dirt brown shawl 


Copyright 1995, 2015 Matthew J Wells