Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Starbucks of Dry Cleaning... Tide.

December 8, 2010

Smelling an Opportunity

MASON, Ohio — For more than a decade, some of the nation’s shrewdest marketers have tried to muscle in on the neighborhood dry cleaner, only to give up after years of labor and millions of dollars in investments.

Undeterred, Procter & Gamble is taking a shot at it, again. Having persuaded Americans to buy synthetic laundry detergent, fluorinated toothpaste and disposable diapers, P.& G. believes it has finally cracked the code on the dry cleaning business, too.

Where other dry cleaning entrepreneurs have tried to come up with clever business models for dry cleaning, P.& G.’s primary innovation is in the brand name itself:Tide Dry Cleaners, named after its best-selling laundry detergent.

With more than 800,000 Facebook fans and legions of loyal customers, Tide will draw people into the franchise stores, and superior service — which includes drive-through service, 24-hour pickup and environmentally benign cleaning methods — will keep them coming back, company officials predict.

“The power of our brands represents disruptive innovation in these industries,” said Nathan Estruth, vice president for FutureWorks, P.& G.’s entrepreneurial arm. “Imagine getting to start my new business with the power of Tide.”

And the lure of its fragrance. P.& G. plans to infuse the stores and its dry cleaning fluids with the scent of the brand that’s been cozily familiar to generations of households.

Among the Tide believers is Rick DeAngelis, a 40-year-old who is planning to open a franchise in suburban Cincinnati next year.

“It’s been a trusted name in laundry for 60 years,” he said. “It’s almost synonymous with laundry.”

Already, some local dry cleaners are complaining about the new gorilla on the block, backed by a corporation with roughly $80 billion in annual net sales.

Robert Tran, who owns Monroe Dry Cleaning here in Mason, said his business was off more than 50 percent since a new Tide store opened down the street at the end of October. Customers are being drawn to the Tide store by discounts and giveaways, like P.& G. products and gift cards, he said.

“There is no way I can afford that,” he said. “All my customers just left without giving me a chance to say, ‘Hey, check the quality.’ ”

But for Tide to become synonymous with dry cleaning too, P.& G. will have to overcome problems that have undone other upstarts. The dry cleaning industry has been roiled by unemployment and economic woes, and hurt by a continuing trend toward more casual work clothes.

Competition is fierce, and customers can be prickly: woe to the dry cleaner that ruins a favorite dress, even if it was cheaply made and bought decades ago.

Sanjiv Mehra, who oversaw a short-lived effort by Unilever to break into the dry cleaning business about a decade ago, said the key to success was figuring out a way to do it cheaper or significantly better than the mom-and-pop stores that dominate the industry. At the end of the day, Unilever decided that it couldn’t do either.

“It comes back to, are you fundamentally changing the economics of the business?” he said, adding that P.& G.’s marketing muscle could be the difference. “That’s where they will make a lot of money if they do this right.”

Payam Zamani, co-founder of, a site for car buyers, who later founded PurpleTie dry cleaners, said he tried to do for dry cleaning what Blockbuster did for video stores, offering efficient and better quality than neighborhood dry cleaners. He said it was hard for his stores to compete with owner-operated stores with little overhead and low-wage employees.

“People were more interested in cheaper service, not better service,” Mr. Zamani said.

P.& G. has dabbled in dry cleaning before. In the late 1990s it introduced Dryel, an at-home dry cleaning product that rattled local dry cleaners, who feared they would lose business. But Dryel was considered a disappointment, and P.& G. sold it in 2008.

In 2000, it opened several stores in suburban Atlanta, called Juvian, that offered at-home pickup and delivery of laundry and dry cleaning. The stores were eventually closed.

The idea for Tide Dry Cleaners came from P.& G.’s FutureWorks, a unit that comes up with ways to expand famous brands like Pampers, Oil of Olay and Crest.

Many of those brands are experiencing robust growth in developing markets, but finding new ways to increase revenue in saturated markets like the United States is more challenging.

Four years ago, FutureWorks began considering franchise opportunities, looking for industries where ownership was fragmented and consumers weren’t satisfied. It came up with a three-inch binder of ideas.

The first one to get a green light? Car washes festooned with Mr. Clean, P.& G.’s popular cleaning product. There are now 16 Mr. Clean Car Washes, including one here in Mason that includes Wi-Fi, televisions and spray guns that children can aim at cars passing through the wash. Of course, Mr. Clean products are for sale too.

Dry cleaning, a roughly $8 billion-a-year industry, was second. Research showed that consumers thought the quality of dry cleaners was inconsistent, hours were inconvenient and prices rarely displayed. Plus, many dry cleaner stores were dingy, stifling hot and smelled of chemicals, not unlike a sweatshop, officials said.

Mr. Estruth said his team studied the failed efforts of others as it devised a business plan for Tide Dry Cleaners. The early results are promising: a pilot store in Kansas, outside Kansas City, generated more than $1 million in annual sales, roughly four times the industry average. There are now four Tide Dry Cleaners outlets with plans to expand in a dozen or so more markets.

“If we don’t have compelling unit-level economics, it doesn’t matter how strong the brand is,” said William M. Van Epps, a former Papa John’s Pizza executive who was hired to run P.& G.’s franchises. In a tour of a newly opened store in Mason, P.& G. officials explained why they believed they had resolved the dry cleaning issues that make consumers so unhappy.

At 3,000 square feet, the store is larger than most dry cleaners, and it is painted in Tide’s distinctive orange hue. Cleaning is done on the premises, with Tide being used on garments that are laundered. Silicon-based detergents are used to dry-clean garments, though Tide’s fragrance is added in the process.

Huge vents suck out heat and odors, keeping the store cool and smelling like — what else? — Tide.

The store is staffed with 15 to 18 employees, wearing Tide golf shirts. Lockers near the entrance allow customers to pick up and drop off clothes around the clock. Prices are displayed above the counter (a laundered shirt is $2.25; a dry-cleaned suit is $13, about average in the industry).

During a recent weekday, a steady stream of customers seemed willing to give the Tide store a try. In a positive omen for P.& G., several swooned over Tide.

“It smelled really good in there,” said Harlan Smith, 42, who was on a business trip and dropped off some pants. “When I think of Tide, I have so many good feelings. I’m surprised they didn’t think of it sooner.”

Elena Hickman, 69, said she was lured to the store by a coupon.

“I wanted to see how and why they are doing it and compare it to my local store, which I have been visiting for 10, 11 years,” she said. “I like the drive-in and I like the service. It’s very convenient if it’s raining. The girls were very friendly. And I like the coupons, to be honest.”

Todd Krasnow, a former Staples executive, remembers the heady days when he opened his own dry cleaning chain in 1998. Called Zoots, it offered 24-hour pickup, drive-through service and environmentally friendly detergents, and it eventually grew to 70 stores.

But, as the economy soured, so did demand for dry cleaning, putting downward pressure on prices, he said. Consumers would take their business elsewhere or demand a refund if something was damaged, even if Zoots wasn’t to blame.

“We underestimated what made it a truly challenging business,” Mr. Krasnow said. “Even if you did a really good job, there are plenty of problems.” Zoots was eventually sold in 2008.

Mr. Krasnow, now a venture capitalist, said he still got a few calls a month from investors or recent business school graduates who believed they had found a way to make a killing in dry cleaning. He wishes them luck.

“People think it is easier to do it better,” he said. “And it’s very, very difficult."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Intimate Friends

The Bedfellows’ Reunion

Chicago, Nov. 26, 1860

When the president-elect left Chicago at the end of his six-day political visit, he was also leaving behind an old friend – indeed, a longtime bedmate. In his late 20s and early 30s, Abraham Lincoln had been emotionally closer to Joshua Speed than to anyone else he ever knew, probably including his wife. As young bachelors in Springfield, Ill., they shared a bed for four years; the president and first lady, on the other hand, would keep separate bedrooms in the White House.

Joshua Speed as a young man.
Filson Historical Society, Louisville, Ky.
Joshua Speed as a young man.

“No two men were ever more intimate,” Speed would recall. Lincoln himself wrote to Speed in 1842: “You know my desire to befriend you is everlasting – that I will never cease, while I know how to do any thing.”

Yet the pair had quickly drifted apart after each man married. By 1860, they probably had not seen each other in well over a decade, and even their letters had grown infrequent. Speed had moved to Kentucky and become a slaveholder. Lincoln wrote that a “philosophical cause” – probably involving their differences over slavery – had caused their friendship to “die by degrees.”

Then, a week after Lincoln’s election to the presidency, Speed wrote to congratulate him on attaining “the highest position in the world” – and, although confessing himself “a political opponent,” offered to share information on the climate in his crucial border slave state. (As if atoning for their years of separation, he signed the letter, “I am as ever your friend, J.F. Speed.”) Lincoln almost immediately invited Speed and his wife to meet him and Mary in Chicago the following week. Lincoln was eager to take the political temperature of Kentucky; Speed was a slaveholder – and a Democrat – he could trust. But no doubt he was also moved by Speed’s gesture of friendship, and eager to see his old companion at that moment of personal triumph and national crisis.

Chicago’s Tremont House hotel, scene of the 1860 rendezvous.Library of CongressChicago’s Tremont House hotel, scene of the 1860 rendezvous.

Speed and his wife, Fanny, arrived at the Tremont House hotel to find Lincoln worn and exhausted, his suite besieged by admirers and office-seekers. But the president-elect perked up at the sight of his friend. “Speed, have you got a room?” Lincoln asked. “Name the hour, Speed, and I will come and see you, and will bring my wife.” But then he thought better of including the women. “Mary and Fanny can stay here,” he said. “Let’s you and I go to your room.”

As soon as the two men were alone together, Lincoln seemed to resume their old intimacy, flopping down onto the bed. “Speed, what are your pecuniary conditions?” the president-elect asked. “Are you rich or poor?” Apparently he meant to offer the Kentuckian a post in his administration, perhaps as secretary of the treasury.

Speed, grasping where the conversation was going, quickly headed Lincoln off: “I do not think you have any office within your gift that I can take.”

An unfolding history of the Civil War with photos and articles from the Times archive and ongoing commentary from Disunion contributors.

But their old friendship rekindled that day in Chicago. Throughout Lincoln’s presidency, Speed would serve as a valued adviser and operative; in the spring of 1861 he helped arm Kentucky’s Unionist forces. He visited the White House often. There is no evidence, however, that Lincoln and Speed ever again shared a bed.

In the 19th century, the boundary between comradeship and sexuality – never a perfectly sharp one – was especially blurry. (Trivia question: which famous Civil War general wrote to a male friend: “I would that we might lie awake in each others arms for one long wakeful night”?) The true nature of Lincoln and Speed’s youthful relationship in Springfield will no doubt be debated for a long time to come. Certainly it is hard to imagine two people sleeping together for four years – especially two large men in a small 19th-century bed – without a great deal of physical intimacy. We do know that they were sexually frank with one another; Speed admitted that the two shared the favors of the same prostitute. (He introduced her to his friend after young Abe asked, “Speed, do you know where I can get some?”) But exactly what they did, or didn’t do, under the covers during more than a thousand nights together is probably unknowable.

Even Speed admitted that there were parts of his friend’s inner self that remained a mystery to him. “Now for me to have lived to see such a man rise from point to point … until he reached the presidency, filling the presidential chair in the most trying times that any ruler ever had, seems to me more like fiction than fact,” he wrote after Lincoln’s death. “Mr. Lincoln was so unlike all the men I had ever known before or see or known since that there is no one to whom I can Compare him.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

75% Of 17-24 Year Olds Unable To Enlist!!!

November 20, 2010

Teaching for America

When I came to Washington in 1988, the cold war was ending and the hot beat was national security and the State Department. If I were a cub reporter today, I’d still want to be covering the epicenter of national security — but that would be the Education Department. President Obama got this one exactly right when he said that whoever “out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow.” The bad news is that for years now we’ve been getting out-educated. The good news is that cities, states and the federal government are all fighting back. But have no illusions. We’re in a hole.

Here are few data points that the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, offered in a Nov. 4 speech: “One-quarter of U.S. high school students drop out or fail to graduate on time. Almost one million students leave our schools for the streets each year. ... One of the more unusual and sobering press conferences I participated in last year was the release of a report by a group of top retired generals and admirals. Here was the stunning conclusion of their report: 75 percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24, are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit.” America’s youth are now tied for ninth in the world in college attainment.

“Other folks have passed us by, and we’re paying a huge price for that economically,” added Duncan in an interview. “Incremental change isn’t going to get us where we need to go. We’ve got to be much more ambitious. We’ve got to be disruptive. You can’t keep doing the same stuff and expect different results.”

Duncan, with bipartisan support, has begun several initiatives to energize reform — particularly his Race to the Top competition with federal dollars going to states with the most innovative reforms to achieve the highest standards. Maybe his biggest push, though, is to raise the status of the teaching profession. Why?

Tony Wagner, the Harvard-based education expert and author of “The Global Achievement Gap,” explains it this way. There are three basic skills that students need if they want to thrive in a knowledge economy: the ability to do critical thinking and problem-solving; the ability to communicate effectively; and the ability to collaborate.

If you look at the countries leading the pack in the tests that measure these skills (like Finland and Denmark), one thing stands out: they insist that their teachers come from the top one-third of their college graduating classes. As Wagner put it, “They took teaching from an assembly-line job to a knowledge-worker’s job. They have invested massively in how they recruit, train and support teachers, to attract and retain the best.”

Duncan disputes the notion that teachers’ unions will always resist such changes. He points to the new “breakthrough” contracts in Washington, D.C., New Haven and Hillsborough County, Fla., where teachers have embraced higher performance standards in return for higher pay for the best performers.

“We have to reward excellence,” he said. “We’ve been scared in education to talk about excellence. We treated everyone like interchangeable widgets. Just throw a kid in a class and throw a teacher in a class.” This ignored the variation between teachers who were changing students’ lives, and those who were not. “If you’re doing a great job with students,” he said, “we can’t pay you enough.”

That is why Duncan is starting a “national teacher campaign” to recruit new talent. “We have to systemically create the environment and the incentives where people want to come into the profession. Three countries that outperform us — Singapore, South Korea, Finland — don’t let anyone teach who doesn’t come from the top third of their graduating class. And in South Korea, they refer to their teachers as ‘nation builders.’ ”

Duncan’s view is that challenging teachers to rise to new levels — by using student achievement data in calculating salaries, by increasing competition through innovation and charters — is not anti-teacher. It’s taking the profession much more seriously and elevating it to where it should be. There are 3.2 million active teachers in America today. In the next decade, half (the baby boomers) will retire. How we recruit, train, support, evaluate and compensate their successors “is going to shape public education for the next 30 years,” said Duncan. We have to get this right.

Wagner thinks we should create a West Point for teachers: “We need a new National Education Academy, modeled after our military academies, to raise the status of the profession and to support the R.& D. that is essential for reinventing teaching, learning and assessment in the 21st century.”

All good ideas, but if we want better teachers we also need better parents — parents who turn off the TV and video games, make sure homework is completed, encourage reading and elevate learning as the most important life skill. The more we demand from teachers the more we have to demand from students and parents. That’s the Contract for America that will truly ensure our national security.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hadrian's Wall - To Separate Romans From Barbarians

At the time of Julius Caesar's first small invasion of the south coast of Britain in 55 BC, the British Isles, like much of mainland Europe was inhabited by many Celtic tribes loosely united by a similar language and culture but nevertheless each distinct. He returned the next year and encountered the 4000 war chariots of the Catevellauni in a land "protected by forests and marshes, and filled with a great number of men and cattle." He defeated the Catevellauni and then withdrew, though not before establishing treaties and alliances. Thus began the Roman occupation of Britain.
Nearly 100 years later, in 43 AD, the Emperor Claudius sent Aulus Plautius and about 24,000 soldiers to Britain, this time to establish control under a military presence. Although subjugation of southern Britain proceeded fairly smoothly by a combination of military might and clever diplomacy, and by 79 AD what is now England and Wales were firmly under control, the far North remained a problem. However, the Emperor Vespasian decided that what is now Scotland should also be incorporated into the Roman Empire. Under his instructions the governor of Britian, Julius Agricola, subdued the Southern Scottish tribal clans, the Selgovae, Novantae and Votadini by 81 AD. Further to the North lived loose associations of clans known collectively as the Caledonians. Agricola tried to provoke them into battle by marching an army into the Highlands eventually forcing a battle with the Caledonian leader Calgacus in present day Aberdeenshire at a place called Mons Graupius. 30,000 Caledonians were killed, but the Roman victory was a hollow one, for the next day the surviving clansmen melted away into the hills, and were to remain fiercely resistant and independent.
By the time Hadrian became Emperor in 117 AD the Roman Empire had ceased to expand. Hadrian was concerned to consolidate his boundaries. He visited Britain in 122 AD, and ordered a wall to be built between the Solway Firth in the West and the River Tyne in the east "to separate Romans from Barbarians". One of the greatest monuments to the power- and limitations - of the Roman Empire, Hadrian's Wall ran for 73 miles across open country.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


this lover culls the darkness

she hoists my heart up with it

severs every head i grew her

reanimates the bones i threw her

this lover calms the darkness

-This Lover April 19, 2006

we are careless with our wishing

with the truths we tell through teeth

you'd be careful what you pay for

when the soul is your receipt

-In The Morning Linda Dies April 29, 2006

it was a night just like tonight

a dark & stormy night

oh, and my mouth was a machine gun

shooting stars into your eyes.

when it rained - my god, it was porn.

when i was strong enough to hold you

you were lost enough to follow my lead

oh, i was lost enough to look

for someone lost enough to follow my lead

oh, when i was really out in orbit

you were lost enough to follow my lead

-Something Else May 5, 2006

count on the world

to count backwards from ten

close your eyes

lean your mind on the wall

every brain

is the stuff of a big ticking bomb

every heart

knows its clarion call

who let the world let you down?

who let the world let you down, little girl

it was you who let the world let you down

-Let The World Let You Down May 13, 2006

i wonder if it's true

if we'll inherit the earth

or was that rap a tasteless joke

a bit like sex in a hearse

you know they say that when we die

our life it plays in reverse

it's just one of those things

that we don't want to think about

-Ultraviolet May 15, 2006

when love gets quiet

you turn it up a notch

when love runs slowly

time to wind the watch

cuz love gets quiet

-Love Gets Quiet May 20, 2006

when i get to the top

i'll stop.

i'll throw a rope

made up of keepsakes

made of moonbreak

made of hope.

i am fixing to die young

or die trying.


-Die Young Or Die Trying May 22, 2006

dry your eyes

for when i fill your cups with life

though they are bound to spill at times

i build to last. i build to last.

such well-laid plans

even in sickness, still in health

these bloody stumps of hands i'm dealt

will play their parts, and play them well.

-To Last June 12, 2006

i'm starting to believe

these are the best years of my life

so i'm living them just one day at a time

deck the halls with photos

from the best years of our lives

close your eyes they will be shot one at a time

-The Best Years Of My Life June 14, 2006

ever wonder what you would have been like

if you were born in a far away place?

in the dark, like the sun,

she has her moments

do you believe that when we leave this life

there remains some indelible trace?

in the dark, like the sun,

we had a moment

she said the two of us were fishes in a river

coming up to take a breath of the light

we traded notes on the loves of our lives

and the ghosts that they became for us at night

i wanna know what you were like as a child

were you shy as the devil in love?

in the dark, like the sun,

she has her moments

we wondered if a sort of god exists

being together made us sure he surely does

in the dark, like the sun,

we had a moment

-A Moment July 5, 2006

what's mine is yours is ours always

i am looking forward

to looking back

on us

i know i'm easier said than done

but i am looking forward

to looking back

on us

i knows we've all lost some things

on steps dejected clutching rings

i am looking forward

to looking back

on us

-On Looking Forward July 1, 2006

hope is a paper boat

get in & let's go

say that you'll follow me anywhere. let's go

say that you'll come with me everywhere & let's go

i was once a little boy in a little world

-The Rabbitfoot Tree July 12, 2006

it's not perfect

nothing's perfect

but it works

when money talks

what does it say to you?

when money talks

what does it mean

when money talks?

what does it

say to you

say to you

i will take all your blues away

i could take all your blues away

-When Money Talks August 4, 2006

the truth does not wear a watch

the truth always drags his or her feet

the truth always arrives late, but always arrives, and arrives well-dressed

the truth isn't here yet

the truth prefers we get seperate checks

the truth would throw its coat under me

the truth speaks three languages fluently

the truth spends the whole car ride on the phone

the truth always says the perfect thing at the wrong time

don't call on those who won't be called on

don't call on those who won't be called

do not trust someone to catch you

if that someone's known to never fall

if that someone's known to never fall

-The Truth About Timing November 25, 2006

to hell with your organs.

bury me with my machines

see for yourself

i see only what i wish to see

my formidable.

my formidable foe

oh, all your light in my eyes.

there is no bigger soul i know


i have known

no nervous truth

to pierce my tongue

but i swear by the rain

in her hair

she could be the one

lying in our bed

she goes over my head sometimes

her hair makes a kind of cathedral

between our eyes

my face is the floor

under her stained glass skylight

rise when i call to you.

smoke to the top of the sky

lying in our bed

she is two grades ahead of me in school

she says she wants to be held back.

she wants to.

she is no fool

the first to the front lines of life

they are the first to die

their faith

like the faith of the moth

in a smock of fire

the slow and steady sun will surely rise

and we may open up our eyes

but we can sleep a little longer. it's alright

it hurts when i walk

these shoes they gnaw at my heels

like it hurts when i see you

i thought that we had a deal

coke rots my teeth

and my eyes are leaves of grass

still life is the hardest drug.

it just lasts to the last

lying in our bed

how we make and we unmake friends

we are talking a storm

like the fate of the world depends

shame on your pride.

the pictures here hang like scabs

shame on your shame.

this dream that i dream went bad

the slow and steady sun will surely rise

and you may open up our eyes

but you can sleep a little longer. it's alright

bird what do you say

this is the story of our lives

how we get eachother through

how we get eachother through the night

-Three Stops To The Big Dream I Dream November 30, 2006

once you let loose

things you love

they will not return to you

that is, not without a fight

i'm all that i have

i say that a lot

and though my brain is full of plans

i can't see the future for the past

but give me one more chance

-Forest For The Past/Future For The Trees December 7, 2006

you and me like wisdom teeth

coming in sideways

like two things living underneath a sink

we don't see light nor day

i have seen their light with my own two eyes

i close them just in time

nations behave like fighting words

denying that they rhyme with an illegal

-Love With An Illegal December 23, 2006

love is my favorite movie

i have never seen the ending

love is my favorite ending

love is my favorite country

you don't respect my boundaries

you don't respect my boundaries

love is my favorite boundary

plant your flag and found me

love is my favorite color

-Favorites December 27, 2006


with no beds in them.

i'm learning peer to peer

my dears

if you become my eyes and ears

then i will be your mirror

the wall is fake brick.

fake wood. fake a marble smile

what will it take

to fake it til you make it

mile for twisted mile

she doesn't hear a word i say

she's all but staring at my mouth

the teeth go up down

up down

trapping vowel sounds

ahead the skyline

like an ash black mangled claw

paws at the sky

and like i lived

i'll never die.

my songs will walk your street at night

i am one thousand ghosts.

a thousand haunts.

i have fricasseed my soul

into a list of things i want

and things i have

and things i don't

and all the people that have crossed me

cross my heart and hope to die

all of our hands reach out

for hands

all of our eyes look out for eyes

we set the table. clear the plate.

a little help from jenna's pets

our mother nature hits the fan,

my peacoat pockets lined with debt

our generation may hit the bottle hard

but at least we know that wealth

is catching colds

and having someone there

to nurse you back to health

will it be carie

who i buried

in the evergreen northwest?

or has she once and for all

sworn off being my lucky safety net

all of creation is in question

all her trust in me in doubt

i have gone over this

and over this

still i can't figure it out

not here

on the roadworthy warpath

from here to misery

missouri waits for me in shadows

cast from frozen ozarks trees

babe i am sorry i give you freely

what you'd rather have to steal

and i am sorry too for choosing you

without a chance to heal

but i'm a good kind of distraction

you've become my master plan

even the sea changes its mind

how can i make you understand

if i had something to fall back on

if i had something to fall back on

i'd fall back

i'd fall back

i'd fall back

-Something To Fall Back On January 12, 2007

you are a pretty good investment

think i'll keep you around

i'm not going nowhere

nail your gown to the ground

you are two sips of biker's coffee

take my heart to the pound

you can save me from a rainy day

save me from a rainy day

you are a pretty good investment

think i'll keep you around

save me from a rainy day

-Love Interest January 22, 2007

snake eyes roll from town to town

like marbles on a map

we humble creature know no comfort.

judas chair for luxury's lap

we simply take the wheel of fortune

and we strip its lucky brakes

and go careening down the mountain

through the wind tunnel of fate

we have grass stains on our eyes

from all of the world we have to see

in cities like some fool's crush

we love and then we leave

i am one wall. you are two walls.

we are three walls. a house

i am one wall. you are two walls.

we are three walls.

a house

my antique spirit is my living room.

my heart my leather couch

i strike the tambourine against my hip

and hit the road again

the folks who take the bravest risks

i bet they never had an accident

you set a course for the world's end,

you will find the end is endless

as the darkness

and the ocean

and the panic in titanic

when it sinks in

that forever is a very long time

so i will skip these hopping trains

and face the body of my fears

ring a bell around my neck

to have your jingle heart be near

i could lay inside your love for me

like a tiny raft in a tiny stream

untie my name and be known only

as the ellis island you see in me

we'd flee to little egypt.

grow a garden by the lake

you lynch tomatoes. i kill the chickens.

we knew all of them by name.

plant a sunset, watch a tree,

i hold her hand when it gets dark

the purple sun is just another star.

the earth another yard

and then it sinks in

that forever is a very long time

think i will take up quitting drinking

take the bottles out the fridge

out of the cupboard and the chimney

strange and stranger places hid

i will collect them into bags.

collect the bags into a can

that i will place beside the house

where garbage meets the garbage man

look at them all in there.

their different shapes.

their different colors

like a sack of severed heads

of new and old and older lovers

it is too soon to say goodbyes.

i miss their hands in my insides

and the way their gentle fingernails

would scratch the back of my mind

i won't take you to the street tonight.

i will have you one more time

like silver fillings to a cavity.

i am yours and you are mine.

we let it sink in

how forever is a very long time

forever is a very long time

-Forever Is A Very Long Time January 31, 2007

got a killer view from the mountain

of the path i should've walked all along

on the day i disappeared for the thin airs

i told my lady i would not be gone long

mom will find a job with the grocer

pop will clean the houses of friends

if the shoe don't want to fit you must force it

mister clock has got a gun to our head

where there is a will, there's a highway

a hammer must be tougher than nails

love you give me nothing but trouble

hope you give me nothing but hope

faith you give me things that are too big

too much mountain and not near enough rope

-Mom And Pop March 2, 2007

i had a dream i was a mountain

and they turned my guts to guns

my wisdom teeth to wedding rocks

and concrete claimed my sons

when i woke snow drifted in my hair

and dirt on two of my feet

suppose somewhere there is a mountain

dreaming dreams that it is me

i had a dream i was a rich man

scouting for a trophy wife

to make a living off my death

once i had spent away my life

i woke up with contracts in my mouth

and checks bounced on my knee

somewhere there is a rich man

dreaming dreams that he is me

i had a dream i was a window

but i may as well been blind

to see the same things every day

when i come home late at night

some hope leftover in the fridge

i kick off my heart and soul

and hang my dream up on the door

like it was just another goal

words carry words across the page

to clearings in your minds

might as well read the ending first

and save yourself some time

behind the mirror, another mirror

behind the scenes another scene

suppose somewhere a window

dreams a dream that it is me

-Somewhere There Is A Mountain March 29, 2007

when did all of this get so heavy

drained my lake to make a well for one wish

with every bone in my heart just shattered

life is a fight you don't win

not a day goes by

world turns all the way around

deep down somehow

not a day goes by

soon i turn my back on my family

soon i turn my back on my friends

but you miss the things you wouldn't think matter

the math you have to learn over again

not a day goes by

not a day goes by

not a day goes by

that i don't think

of what it would have been like

if i had never left your side

-A Day Goes By April 6, 2007