I have been writing sporadically since I was 12 or so, mostly science fiction at first, then some poetry, essays, songs... I used
the Extreme, my short-lived literary 'zine, to showcase some of my fiction and poetry, though I gave more space to other writers;
Vitriol, a semi-regular column, became my forum for venting there, and it lived on in a monthly electronic format on
my Web site for a few years, before being replaced by Being.... I started writing occasional
micro-'blog posts (sort of tweeting before Twitter) on the site, too, and eventually started a "real" 'blog at
LiveJournal... and that is now supplanted by the 'Blog... of Death!. My writing reveals
much about me, although one shouldn't assume that every word of the stories, poems, and songs is strictly autobiographical and based on my personal reality and life. Much of it is, some of it ain't.
Some characters are based on me and people I've known, some are totally made up. I have a poetic license with no restrictions and several points. I express myself through my writing, but that
doesn't mean that every word should be taken literally or assumed to project my point of view. Copyright stipulations apply to the pieces here; please don't steal my work. Do tell me if you like (or
dislike) anything you read, though. Criticism is always welcome...!
A World Gone Topsy-Turvy
I wrote a few short stories in the early '80s that have survived; this one has a slight whiff of "Mad Max" meets "Escape from New York" to it, though I don't think I'd seen either movie when I wrote it.
An Unfair Trial?
A twist ending, completely unworthy of M. Night Shyamalan. I'd do the story differently if I were writing it today, as an adult and not a teenager, but I think it holds up fairly well.
Genre Sais Quois
I wrote this one for the Extreme: it was a half-serious attempt to cover as many bases (science
fiction, fantasy, romance, detective, horror, cyberpunk, etc.) as possible in one story.
Another early (and short-short) piece I wrote in the early '80s, with a Cold War and Mutually Assured Destruction vibe all over it. You kids today, you just don't know...
Oh, No, Not Again
This short-short is a thinly-veiled account written after I saw someone who may or may not have been a love interest a few years earlier...
There certainly are a lot of tales about humans rationalizing the extermination of other humans. Unfortunately, not all of them are fictional.
Another one from the mid-'90s, a short story about trying to sell a short story.
On the Form of Love
The second of three works I've conceived while meandering illegally through a park after hours. (I'm such a rebel.) I don't always agree with Plato, but something about the Theory of the Forms
makes sense to me.
On the State of the Disunion
Whether or not American society was more polarised in mid-2020 than it had been in recent memory, it certainly felt that way at times. This was my response.
Open Letter of Resignation from Toys "R" Us
I fully intended to hand copies of this out to all my fellow employees upon quitting; several of them did see it. But I was talked out of self-termination (the first time) by the Assistant Store
Director after she'd read my letter, agreed that I'd made some valid points, and asked me to allow some time for them to be addressed. Two weeks later, though, I didn't see any signs of
impending change, so I handed out the last two issues of the Underground Giraffe and walked out.
Undelivered Speech for Benjamin Amoruso
A lot of in-jokes here, but it should still be enjoyable even if you never worked for AA World Class. For the company Christmas party in 2000, a few of the executives decided to give our president an award,
and they'd planned to have a few people speak. When I was asked if I'd do it, I decided to write up this little beauty, which probably has Shakespeare spinning in his grave. Or whoever wrote his stuff. It's
also got Lennon references (the party was held on the anniversary of John's death), a wee bit of Run-DMC, and an ambiguous message. But when Dawn (a manager and Ben's daughter) presented the award, she was
so nervous and flustered, she forgot to ask if anyone wanted to come up to the mike! Ah, well; might've been for the best.
I wrote this at the end of 1999, when the masses were preparing for what they thought was the end of the millennium. I'm definitely in the minority with this point of view, but I cling to it
This poem is the third item I came up with while clearing my head in the park at night; I was feeling sad, defiant, and inspired. I came up with most of it right then and kept it in my head 'til
a few days later, when I wrote it down and added a little to it. Actually writing with pen and paper is a rare occurrence for me anymore, most of my stuff goes straight from my brain to
A whimsical take on fate and mortality. I realized long ago that I can die. I sometimes wonder, though, whether I ever will.
This short poem is rather bleak and fatalistic. It wasn't terribly accurate, either, but it's another use of my 'cold blue eyes' phrase, originally from the revised "PeacherPoem" below.
I also realized long ago that there's a bit of a control freak in me. It generally applies only to myself, though, so I guess that's not too bad. This poem addresses one aspect
of this tendency.
I like it when a woman can meet my eyes. I constantly refer to them as 'cold,' but it seems that my eyes are in fact quite striking and have been complimented from time to time. They have
been warmed by a few special women over the years, though these days I suppose they're back to being cold...
Written during an idle moment at work at Toys, this poem has become the favorite among mine of several people, including me, I think. I was not especially maudlin or sad that night, just
introspective. I'd typed it up on one of the terminals, and unknowingly printed a copy to a printer in a different area of the store; when I reported for work again two days later, my concerned
manager confronted me with it and asked if everything was all right. Heh. Just waxing poetic, is all...
Yes, it's a very short poem. The verse and the title said exactly what I wanted to say, with no extra verbiage. Don't like it? Tough.
The Loss of Serenity
I was listening to Nine Inch Nails' "I'm Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally" and was moved by the phrase "the blur of serenity." Deciding to twist it a little, I started conjuring this poem
and the loss of serenity by the subject. Or by the narrator. Hell, it could even be about Serenity's loss.
No, I'm Not
An alienated sequel to the PreacherPoem, below. These poems, and the song "Human Thing" and its sequel, "J-ded," are all of a piece. They all convey, to varying degrees, my love,
anger, despair, and hope in regard to the human race.
Maybe this is a tired subject, but you really don't know what you've got 'til it's gone, and that doesn't apply only to romance. In this poem, I
address lost youth.
PreacherPoem (original) PreacherPoem (transitional) PreacherPoem (revised)
The original "PreacherPoem" was written in response to a friend's inquiring about my lack of a love life at the time. Obviously, it deals with more than that, though, and I later wrote a more
general revision. It also expounded further on my 'Preacher' self-image. I started the revision a year or so after the original, after an ugly and drawn-out breakup with a girl who'd used the Velvet
Underground's "Pale Blue Eyes" to describe my own ocular globes; my reference in the poem to one 'cold blue eye' was deliberate. I still like my phrase better than VU's. I re-discovered the
'transitional' poem several years later, in April 2000; it's essentially a first draft of the revision, though I never finished this version.
A short poem, written in dactylic dimeter for an English course at Montclair State College; this is the oldest poem I still have, dating from September 1990. It went over well with the professor, who
admired my skill and humor. No, really.
It was a dark and stormy afternoon when we left Joinville, in the state of Santa Catarina in Brazil, and as the bus made its way up and around the mountains, this is what my pen put to my
So Much More
I've always found it easier to communicate on paper (and now over the Internet) than verbally. I actually make a good public speaker, but without laying my ideas out beforehand I tend to
overlook points, go off on tangents, get things out of order... not that I'm unique in that. And of course there's a certain comfort in writing something alone in privacy as opposed to
saying it to someone...
When I first read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and encountered Stoicism in Brutus, I was captivated, and recognized a little of it in myself. I am both more and less stoic now than I was then at
15 or so... But I'm not sure why I gave that title to this poem, written six years later.
Another of the Preacher's poems, written around the same time as "No, I'm Not" and sharing its feel and non-rhyming scheme. I make reference to Pink Floyd's The Wall, which is still one
of my favorite albums of all time; its theme of withdrawal from and defending against the outside world has always struck a chord within me.
Fun with words, and lots more rhyming than most of my poetry has. It's rather dark, but not meant to be taken too seriously. I really enjoyed writing this one.
Thou Shalt Not
In early 2003, as the administration of President George Dubya Bush tried to conceal its eagerness to go to war with Iraq, Poets Against the War began gathering poetry for its cause of peaceful protest.
I wrote and contributed this one.
This is my own take on Joyce Kilmer's "Trees."
All Aboard the Jailbreak Train
In February 2010, the iPhone Dev Team (the wonderful hackers who provided many of us the free tools to 'jailbreak' our early iPhones) asked Twitter followers to submit a song, to be titled "All Aboard
the Jailbreak Train," which should warn iPhone and iPod Touch owners of the inherent dangers of arbitrarily updating their devices through iTunes whenever Apple released a new update. This was
my quick submission.
American in London
This one was written on a park bench in London, in daylight, though I'd made the decision to write such a song in the week or so before leaving for the UK. It's a tribute to, and a slight parody of, Sting's
"Englishman in New York." The cadence follows his song's, though the music is mine.
The first song that Greta's Unmentionables tackled, and the only one we took to near completion before splitting up. I'd heard some angry rock song about a woman having hurt a man (I know, those kinds of
songs are extremely rare) and felt inspired to write my own, so I put the first few lines together with a short guitar riff I'd come up with. The guys liked the riff, and we built up the rest of the tune
around it, while I completed the lyrics. While the band never recorded a definitive version, I did complete my own for I'll Live.
Blond on Blonde
A lot of my songwriting is very autobiographical in nature; this one is not. Well, maybe very loosely, in that I do have a predilection for blondes. I've never been quite as far gone as the guy in
the song, though. I like the way this recording turned out, kinda pop-punk despite the Dylan-borrowed title.
A Blurb and A Blur
I started using the phrase "Better that your life be a blur than a blurb" around the turn of the century (what do you mean which century?!?). While I'd never thought of it in terms of song lyrics,
when I solidified my plans for a second album in the summer of 2015, I decided that I'd write two songs, "A Blurb" and "A Blur," as the introduction and finale respectively. Penned that November, they're
short ("A Blurb" fittingly even more so than "A Blur"), but I think they get their points across.
Burning in the Sun
While I have come up with the music to some of my songs before the lyrics (the opposite of the way I usually write), I think this one might be the first song where I developed the music and the
lyrics pretty much simultaneously. I'd only had the Kona K2 acoustic/electric guitar for a week when I took it with me to Costa Rica, and this somewhat Brazilian-sounding tune began forming in my head on
the third afternoon there.
Yes, it's a Christmas song, and it even features some sleigh bell action. I thought about writing this song one Christmas, then actually did write it the following year. I've spent more Christmases
without love than with, but that doesn't make being alone any easier, and you just can't cuddle with a twelve-string guitar...
This started out as a poem, another one I wrote while at work (United Jersey Bank this time). Later, I decided it'd make a good song. In the early Not An Exit days, I recorded a brief, sparse demo,
intending to give this song a vintage mid-'60s organ-based sound. As the years went by, I decided it needed a harder sound, and eventually recorded it with as close to a thrash-metal vocal as I could
Dances on Clouds
If you've never been with someone who made you dance on clouds, I'm sorry. The somewhat Native American-sounding phrase came to mind after a romantic interlude, and I decided to deliberately avoid placing
the young couple of the song in any specific place or time; they could be Sioux lovers of the 18th century, or Australians of the 21st. When I recorded this in March of 2004, however, I did try to give it
a little Native American flavor.
Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and others were writing songs about the war pigs (again) in the mid-'00s, and I felt the need to write one myself. I didn't want to write something specific to that particular war
(the second Gulf War) or that particular president (Dubya), or even to American presidents specifically, however; it's a mindset I have a problem with, the "my people, right or wrong" attitude, the feeling
that "our way is the right way" and "if you're not with us, you're against us." I tried to point out in my lyrics that both the 'coalition of the willing' and the terrorists won't let the deaths of innocents
interfere with their causes. Originally recorded in 2007, I redid this song for I'll Live in 2016.
The Discontent of My Winter
I like to twist phrases around, don't I? The idea for this song came in the cold early months of 2014, as I braved a nasty winter and my loneliness. I started writing a few lines of the lyrics at the time,
when my emotions were still pretty raw, but didn't finish them (or start putting together some musical musings) until that September.
Written after a first date gone wrong. Um, only date, actually. Oh, well.
Down the Shore
A friend told me about a DJ on a quest for the 'perfect' Jersey shore song during the summer of 2005... so I wrote one myself. I never heard back from Mr. DJ, but I
like the song, anyway. The recording has a surf rock beat and a sorta techno bass.
I'd started working on the music to this one long before coming up with any lyrics, or even considering writing a song about writing songs. It reminds me a little of my poem "Rhythmic Musing," and my
delivery is closer to reciting than to singing.
Everything's Different Now
The title, the name of an album and song by 'Til Tuesday, had been buried in the back of my brain for years as a potential song title of my own. In November 2014, I recorded a short demo while playing
guitar, decided to create a song around it, and finally wrote these lyrics. They're a bit more observational than sad (or angry), or so I like to think. This also has the dubious distinction of being
the first song for which I've recorded a music video.
Extreme Close-Up, Then Fade to Black
I sure do like that e word... I took this title from the subject of a morose E-mail I sent some of my lucky friends during some black days in early 2000. I
wasn't quite so down when I actually wrote the song, months later, though the theme is one that is forever present in me. The music and lyrics are somewhat inspired by NIN's The Downward Spiral
I like to think of this as my "Layla," a love song about another man's wife (though my tune isn't nearly as awesome as Clapton's; both he and I got the girl eventually, and both he and I lost her
eventually). I might not have been quite so unflinchingly candid with the lyrics today, but when I wrote them back in May 1999, they just poured from the heart.
Forlorn, Forsaken... Forgotten?
I was brooding over a friend's behavior when I conceived this song. While fleshing it out, I realized that the emotions could be applied equally well to a lover or a family member, so I left the
references fairly vague. I was out of my funk by the time I completed these NINish lyrics; I think the sound is a mix of Nine Inch Nails and Not An Exit. I think.
The Offspring's "Smash" influenced the lyrics, and I threw in a sorta Arabic lick on the guitar, too (though it's heavily punkified). I'm not a big fan of 'frendy tuckers.'
My then-girlfriend Gina jokingly remarked to me that I should write a children's song to help her daughter, Hannah, learn how to spell her name. I took it as a challenge, and wrote and recorded this just
a few short weeks later. Both mother and daughter enjoyed it, and it does seem to have helped with the spelling! I don't think children's music is really my thing, though.
A rare second-person story about not always being with your loved one when you'd love to be with her; I wrote it while my then-girlfriend was away in April 2004.
Hole in the Wall
"Amateur Blues" (recorded by Not An Exit waaay back in the day) was the first musical idea for a song I ever had; the intro and ending to this one comprised the first
lyrical idea, back in 1991. I conceived "Hole" as a song that would have been right at home on Pink Floyd's The Wall, maybe between "Nobody Home"
and "Vera." By the time I finally wrote the rest of the lyrics, almost ten years later, I'd gained quite a bit more perspective. And yes, it is ballsy of me to think I can write a song sorta
like Roger Waters, or play a guitar solo that almost kinda sounds like David Gilmour, but... I gave it a shot.
If memory serves, this was also first written as a poem, back when the phrase "It's a black thing, you wouldn't understand" was in vogue. I ended up matching these words to a Bo Diddley beat and some very
simplistic chords, and I recorded a quick demo so I'd remember how it went. I recorded the first version of "Human Thing" four years later, in an industrial style, and managed to keep the Diddley beat,
more or less...Six years after that, I re-recorded the track, and (I believe) did it more justice.
This song is very much tongue-in-cheek. I guess the narrator is related to the guy in John Entwistle's "I Found Out" and the one in the Police's "On Any Other Day." Think you're having a bad day? It could
be worse. Much worse. Inspiration also came from my tendency, years back, to answer "How are you?" with "Alive, but otherwise fine."
Wrote and recorded this one in the first two months of 2000. I'd written the first two verses years earlier, actually, as a direct response to Billy Joel's song, "Angry Young Man." I like his song,
but I don't like its conclusion that one eventually 'grows out of' social and political awareness and protest and activism. Passed the age? Never. "J-ded" is also very much a sequel to "Human Thing," and
has an electronic/industrial sound, too, like the original recording of that song.
Joey Ramone's Dead
Though the Ramones were never my favorite punk band, I did love 'em and got to see them once, and I was stunned when the big kid Joey died. I E-mailed a few friends to tell them the bad news, and I
half-decided then that I'd use the E-mail subject as the title to the album I was working on. A week or two later, I wrote the chorus to "Joey Ramone's Dead," and I finished the lyrics about a month after
that. I ended up calling the album Joy in the New instead, however.
Joy in the New
Speaking of which... Sometimes I just don't know when to quit. This song is basically an update to "Joy in the Now." Early in 2003, I found myself running through the earlier song on the guitar, but with a
different rhythm and feel than the recorded version; having composed new lyrics, I re-recorded the music with that new feel but the same drums (slowed down and tweaked a bit) in January 2004.
Joy in the Now
Happy, happy, joy, joy... Like Pete Townshend, the songwriter I think I'm most influenced by, I can write the occasional lighthearted song in the midst of
all the moody or angry ones. This is about a night and a day when nothing else mattered, and the first line flips the opening line of "For Dana."
Another 'somebody done somebody wrong' song, which I penned early in September 2011. I had Tool running around in my head as I wrote it, but my recording ended up sounding nothing like them.
Lonely Blue Dreams
When Jon and I were coming up with songs and ideas for Not An Exit back in 1992, we thought it'd be cool to each write a song entitled "Lonely Blue Dreams" in a lyrical and musical style like Roy Orbison's.
We did write our respective songs, though neither has been recorded yet.
Look at the Stars with Me
The theme of this song, two lovers apart looking into the night sky at the same time, came to me back in 1999, as did the idea for the intro, a short bit of drumming partly inspired by Led Zeppelin's
recording of "When the Levee Breaks." I think I put together the virtual drum bit in '99 or '00, and I had a basic melody in my head, but I didn't put pen to paper to write all the lyrics until 2003; the
recording was done in February '04.
A sad song, with a hint of self-directed anger. I was walking to the bus stop on my way home from work one fall evening in 2006 when the chorus just came to me; I jotted it down in my Treo so I wouldn't
forget, and a week or two later I set about finishing the lyrics.
This was inspired at least as much by the death of a friend as it was by the breakup of a relationship. I opted to keep the lyrics open to either interpretation when I finally wrote them in November
Not An Exit
The majority of the songs I've written have been 'lyrics first, music later.' Having started writing fiction and poetry long before attempting music, I guess I just find it easier that way. This song
is one of the exceptions; Jon and I came up with the basic musical theme one evening while jamming, and we liked the sound, so we started tinkering with it. Jon decided to name it for the band (hey, Bad
Company and Bad Religion and Black Sabbath have their songs), and developed more of the music, but we still didn't have lyrics, so a few weeks later, before I'd laid down a guitar take, I came up
with these optimistic lines. Heh-heh-heh. Not An Exit is never going to be known for its light-hearted lyrics, I'm afraid... We never recorded a definitive version together, but it was interesting to do
my solo take after a spate of more cheerful songs.
Occasionally Tormented Soul
I hadn't done any writing in a long time, not because I couldn't, but because I didn't want to write lyrics faster than I was recording and end up with twenty or thirty songs piled up and waiting to be
realized. I changed my mind on that, though, and this one, with its more-than-a-mouthful lyrics, was the first to burst forth in late August 2009. Like life, it's not meant to be taken too seriously.
I believe this was the earliest set of lyrics I ever wrote as a complete song, though I've never really worked out the music beyond a basic melody in my head; to date it remains unrecorded. Yes, I was
young and foolish.
Rock and Roll Day
My friend Theresa, a woman with great musical tastes, let me know about Rock and Roll Day, which the greeting card industry apparently decided was a necessary 'holiday.' The news must've inspired me,
because that night while I was jammin' on the Danelectro, I worked out almost half the music to this song. She suggested lyrics about a channel manager who was pulling her hair out at work, and a tech
support specialist who was drained from support calls (those characters sounded so familiar somehow!), and so this is what I came up with.
I wrote this from the point of view of a rockhopper, my favorite penguin. Duh. I conceived of the song a few months before the animated hit "Happy Feet" came out at the end of 2006, actually, but I didn't
get the lyrics out until January 2007. I tried to keep the words from getting too silly, or too preachy about the environment.
Written after camping at Assateague Island and getting sand everywhere and in everything. I like the way the narrator starts off admiring and in awe of the sand, and eventually... not so much.
I still get a chuckle from the line, "The fat we did chew." She found it pretty funny, too. I also like the double meaning of 'second shot.' This one was recorded in January 2004 in two days.
Another song title portmanteau: I conceived of, wrote, and recorded this song in September 2014, as what would've been my first wedding anniversary (had I actually gotten married) and my 44th birthday
approached. I usually enjoy the fall season and my birthday, but the prospect of watching these dates arrive alone filled me with some sorrow and some dread, so I decided to make a song of it.
I wrote and recorded "She" in under three weeks in September 2020, which I think is a personal record. It came after a long dry spell in terms of songwriting, and it felt good to feel inspiration
strike, and so powerfully.
The idea for this song came to me a bit before it had been six full months since 'the breakup.' Naturally, it took me an extra month or three to finish the lyrics; by that time, I'd already
started working out the music, which I wanted to be reminiscent of late '70s-early '80s Who. Yes, the words are sad, but I like the sound, especially the synth, and writing the song was (I think)
cathartic for me.
So Much Further
I seem to reuse phrases and patterns a lot... This is the first song I wrote after my engagement and relationship were ended. The opening line came to me while I was heading to work one morning, and over
the next two or three days I wrote a few more. The lyrics were finished over Labor Day weekend in 2013, when I began recording it. There's a line lifted from a long-running science fiction show in there
So Much Happy
One of my friends remarked, upon hearing of my new relationship in late 2011, that I'd found my happy, and I really liked the sound of that. In early 2012, I decided I'd write a song to be called "So Much
Happy," and started putting together a little of the music, but the real impetus to finish both the music and the lyrics, and get the tune recorded, was our impending six-month anniversary. This song was
one of her gifts.
Another unhappy song, written about a month after "Christmas Lonely." Unlike that one, though, the music here isn't especially cheerful at all. Hmmm, the titles both sound like written by Yoda they
Source of Pain
I had John Hiatt's "Permanent Hurt" running through my head rather insistently when I wrote this song, and so I used its meter for the verses. Isn't it funny how everything works out...?
Swingin' in the Park (After Dark)
The first of my park-inspired writings. I came up with the title, the swing feel, and the horns after I hopped off the swings. Seriously. This little number was recorded by Not An Exit in August
2000, and by me solo in May 2003.
That's Just What I Am
Seeing Aimee Mann in Boston in 2002 first planted in my head the idea for a song with this title. At the time, I was thinking in terms of responding to her song "That's Just What You
Are," and some of that concept was retained when I actually wrote the song almost a year later; I had a different woman in mind when I completed the lyrics, but some of them are plainly answering
Aimee's challenges. I recorded this in January 2004.
They Might Be Roses
My then-girlfriend and I were jogging and walking through Lyndhurst once in 2012 when we happened upon some flowers growing through someone's gate. One of us said, "They might be roses," and the phrase
stuck in my head: not so much about flowers, but about the idea that some things that hurt us now could be seen as lovely in hindsight, because of where they lead us or what they open us up to. I'd
intended to write a NaNoWriMo novel with that name and concept, but didn't get far at all (though I may go back to it); however, I did eventually get around to finishing the song lyrics and recording the
tune in 2016.
I wrote this on my 30th birthday, after realizing there aren't a whole lot of good birthday songs out there. It's more about good friends than about birthdays, actually, and I dedicate it
to all my friends, past, present, and (hopefully) future.
Has my writing scared anyone yet? I thought this one up while riding a New Jersey Transit bus back from Manhattan. Yes, that's a bit creepy. No, I don't care. Do you honestly think the Tunnel is
impervious to destruction, by design or by accident? This song hasn't been recorded, but it might be ripe for the Not An Exit treatment.
We Go On
Started writing this in the spring of 2004; the first verse of the chorus is actually imprinted on the Joy in the New CD. Go on, check yours, I'll wait here... Some songs are harder to
write than others, and while it's not especially long, I finished it after two years, though it went unrecorded until 2016's I'll Live.
We the Resilient
I'd originally planned to write an angry protest song for Inauguration Day 2016, but when I stumbled across the "We the People" public art campaign, Ernesto
Yerena's piece called "We the Resilient" resonated with me, and I ended up penning this less-angry and more-determined song instead. Yes, I briefly contemplated rhyming Brazilian with
resilient. 'Twas written and recorded in two days, and yeah, it shows.
When Giant Giants Attack!
Very definitely inspired by Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers; I even mention them in the lyrics. Of course, I drew from the Fox Network's goofy TV show names in deciding on the song's title...
I completed these lyrics the same day in January 2007 that I finished "Rockhopper," so I suppose it was a day for writing silly non-love songs.