Barbed Wire

Barbed Wire

 

Most people spend their lives trying to make the New York Times;

I made mine quite early but I didn’t believe my product.

Now I spend most of my days trying to disentangle 

the many and various ways I am ensnared

in the barbed wire of America.

 

Now, you can sing like a buffoon or you can write yourself in corners

painting a new doorway, and never make the threshold,

until a man he comes and taps you and says, “Noble or a knave?”

It’s just the way you spend your days, trying to disentangle 

the many and various ways you are ensnared

in the barbed wire of America.

 

Don’t make enemies of people who buy ink by the gallon

Don’t make friends with people who buy ink by the gallon

 

Now, mostly what I’d like to do is to serve you both a milkshake

and a couple of quesadillas and go home, and every night

— with the sharp, seductive smell of fresh garlic on my fingers;

I could write you encyclopedias about garlic on my fingers —

seems I’m doomed to spend my days just trying to disentangle

the many and various ways I am ensnared

in the barbed wire of America.

 

Don’t make enemies of people who buy ink by the gallon

Don’t make friends with people who buy ink by the gallon

 

Still, the truth be told, I do more in afternoons 

than you could finish in whole weeks of writing and revising,

but still I feel so useless, like I’m dying on the vine;

let’s do the disentangle baby;

come save me from the barbed wire of America.

 

(Life Underwater Music, 2007)

James O'Brien