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Through Tough Thoughts

by Jordan O'Jordan

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Two Hopes 00:48
Here’s two hopes you hold on to: (1.) Nothing happens without you, (and) And if friends have things to say, they will do so honestly. But be careful what you want, In case it happens just like that! The gifts you may, or may not, hold: One is Silver, One is Gold.
A lonely road, headed out just to end in some strip mall mine, Two stalwart kids, heading eastward to try out their luck again. What did we expect—this was not a land that would have welcomed us. Just a mountain range, just your basic plains, just some burning bush. Were we fools to go? Was there nothing to be gained from such ordeal? Was it our shallow pride? Or was it high time we swallowed that bitter pill? Did we honestly think we’d make it home without some stupid scars? Or was that our goal? We would mark up our skin just to prove it’s ours. In a rental car, headed south toward the glint of Las Vegas sand, You did turn to me, and with gravity, said, “Jordan, I’m your friend. And we will never stop throwing ourselves at life, like some reckless stunt. There are truths we may or may never know friend—and that is the point.” “But here’s the trick:” you said, “Failure’s not just the thing that you thought it’d be. It’s a weird specter, yes. But its shadows have shadows that multiply. And behind the fear that you thought was the worst that you’d ever feel, Lies another door, and behind that lurk things far more fearsome still.” But then like an angel sent straight from the Heartland, our car radio played Dolly Parton. She sang songs of assurance where folks tend to endure, further urging us to get shit started. And we both knew, in this moment of grace that there are times in life when we must face facts, Although events go awry, we can't help but to try: like some greyhound let loose on life’s racetrack. In an all-night buffet, we were shocked by the sight of such bounty laid In that bleak basement hall; neon tubes buzzed a chorus from every side. There I made a vow to you, our sole witness an ancient soft-serve machine: That I would attempt to know that bright diamond that glitters in every being. You saw my bet, and you raised it a bit with your own reply: You said, “I promise, friend, I will strive to hold on to uncertainty. And then, furthermore, I’ll admit there are lands that weren’t built for us. But I won’t quit this quest to search out my own personal paradise.” You gave a kiss to me on my cheek, then my forehead, and then my mouth, At that casino bar, then you slipped from your stool and you headed south. But as you turned to go, you said, “Don’t worry friend, I will see you soon, In that last light of day, in that wine-dark sea, at your new Midwest home.” So, I departed, too. I caught a plane to a place where I had grown up. Although, I still don’t know if such actions amount to a forward step. But sometimes I hear your voice, saying, “Friend, it’s not ends that we’re aiming for. Each day’s a pane of glass, and even stacked back-to-back: Time is still fragile, dear.” Each day’s a pane of glass, and even stacked back-to-back: Time is still fragile, dear.
He said, “The threshold, dear, for what I can sit through has changed a lot. It seems that patience stalks up on us, like a cougar in the woods. And before we know we’re trapped, it rakes its claws across our backs And pins us right down in the dirt. Patience is gruesome.”
We walked out of the woods, Headed toward Miller’s Pond. Through my sun-dazzled eyes, I thought I spied a swan. But, when I looked again, I realized it was you, Sitting there in the sun, In your new bathing suit. Now, was it I? Was it I, Who did sharpen these words? Was it I, was it I Wielding these sentence-swords? And if it wasn’t me, Where did these things come from? Etched inside of my mouth, By my acid-bath tongue. So, look away! Look away! Land of Manners and Rules! I don’t want you to see, Your son acting so cruel. I don’t want you to hear, All these harsh words out loud. We’re both keenly aware, I ain’t doing you proud. But, it’s not like you died, For some heartbreak untold, And washed up, pure and clean, On the side of this lake. And it’s not like some guy, Who was walkin’ this road, Saw your gorgeous remains, Fell in love, and then took All your prettiest parts, To make some violin, Both sincere and macabre (though, he did a great job) Through those heart-breaking means, Come some heart-wrenching ends. Through those heart-breaking means, Come some heart-wrenching ends. In that hot, driving rain. In that sweet, dreadful wind.
Scattered 03:29
“Scattered”: that’s what you called me, Each time I offered you all these million things. “Stalwart”: that’s how you told me, I should be focusing all my energies. There was a time before I had learned, You were not a man I should listen to. There was a time before I had heard, There were other sweet men. “Coastward”: that’s where you told me, I should be moving, and I should move there soon. “Untoward”: that’s what you called me, when my behavior was an affront to you. I didn’t know enough not to cry, When you cut me down in unsubtle ways. I didn’t know enough not to leave, As a way to fight back. But, who was I that I should try to save, The hold that you had on my beliefs? And all the time I held my tongue, Although I knew you were wrong.
Hey! Let’s practice our telepathy together! Let’s collect our favorite thoughts, And then project them to each other! And perhaps we’ll find how tiny Psychic distances appear! And then every time you need me, I’ll be there. And every time I need you, You’ll be here.
You did not know what would happen ever after, You could tell it wouldn’t end up well at all, So we sat beside resistors, witnessed history’s disasters, Didn’t know how fast our tracks would get all covered up with snow. But there are lessons to be learned about the colder climates. Let the Penguins be the teachers to us stupid Primates: 1. Keep your eggs upon your feet. 2. Keep your backs turned to the south. 3. If your friends won’t eat, then you might need to feed them with your mouth. So, put your lips upon their lips, Feel free to slip a little tongue. If you get all hot and bothered, You ain’t doin’ nuthin’ wrong! Remember: Heat keeps these cold bodies keepin’ on! Now, it’s not the worst idea to be defiant. Nor is it the worst intent to be a perve. Let your freaky, far-out flag fly free and high While stayin’ silent— With your middle finger pointed To their God, who you don’t serve. So, we’ll knit scarves to keep us warm, And we’ll work weekends on the farm, And if our memories get too short, We’ll tattoo history on our arms. Which will remind us of the time, Before this storm.
You were not just what you said. But, friend, I knew that from the start of it. There are a few things I keep too well hid. And there’s a few truths I wish to forget. But that is not a choice that I can make. My worst intentions won’t just cease to speak. A close inspection of our present state, Decries some situation slightly bleak. But, no words so deep have helped me yet. I keep not-knowing what I’m wanting, But still asking for more than I’ve got. I don’t know what this great greed is all about. So, give me two seconds while I think this through. I need to check on how I really feel. Sir, should I stick here, sitting next to you? The future beckons with things I don’t know. What are the facts that we should swiftly share? Where are those traps, of which we should beware? Are these just habits from our younger years? The jagged paths of these incessant scars. But, wait! Hold up! I got that wrong! There’s no pre-charting what we’re starting, Nor a need to flee before it’s done. I don’t know where this weird fear is coming from.
O! Benvolio! 02:08
O! Benvolio! Take me home! For they have made worms’ meat of me.
In a flash, I was Fine! Then I was NOT FINE, just as quick. I said to myself, “If I saw someone else Act like it, it’d be lunatic.” “But is it so bad, always,” I said, “to be out of control? Should we berate the sordid states We sometimes fall into? But, how can I even stand to make a plan, When my mind might just change?! Due to some little hint, That got dropped by a friend.” Questions fall from the sky: “Will I always be high?!” “Will this shit ever end?!” “Will I ever be right again!?!” I don’t know. It depends. “Sweetheart, hold yourself back,” Andre said, “Tears are not helpful at this point. Keep those feelings in check Till we artfully exit the back of this burger joint!” But, friends, it’s not easy for me to hold back Even one river’s flow. Levees, historically speaking, are leakier Than most folks know. If even one or two drops get through— it’s an unglamorous end! Black kohl lines running down, Slightly blotchy mauve cheeks. Making motions to run, From the room in a streak Of quite awkward expressions: “Grrrl! He is a WRECK!” Spilling out on the street, like two clowns, Dignity trailing from my shoe. Andre spun right around, she said, “Listen up, hun, I got three things to say to you! First off, this night is too young For the two of us to go home yet! Second, this life is the only one You, in this body, will get! Lastly, I’m here for you anytime, BUT That’s conditional friend On the fact that you fight For each breath that you take! Don’t let any fool man, Or someone else’s plan, Ever threaten to break down That SweetSmartFierceFabulous Magic you make!”
I have thoughts of the ocean, That come nightly crashing, But I have remembrance Of other things, too. I don’t want you to think, I’m constantly longing, For things that are different, Or far-flung from here. ‘Cause that’s not what it’s like, no, it’s not even close. I find most of the time, I’m in love with this place. But, some nights there’s a tiny voice Whispering regrets, And devising adventures, I haven’t had yet. That’s the problem in thinking, You’ve got all these options: The hard part’s deciding, friend, Which one’s the best! Or, is that just the poison— Superlative endings. As if they could happen! As if they exist! There’s no doubt, we’re all thinking, There must be a path, Heading onward through acres, Of much-greener grass, Full of flowers and fortunes And all those friends we might have! If we just got p our gumption, We could change our whole lives! But, is that the solution? To head toward the horizon? To keep switching positions, Till I find one that’s good? But, does that solve my real problem, Or is it just a distraction, That insists what I’m missing, Is just the thing that I need? ‘Cause, there’s a soft sort of danger, that starts creeping up, when you spend too much time, wondering what you might want. It eggs you on toward those things, You think you ought go get. It values not what you have now, But what you don’t have…yet. But, I’d rather not always live in the future, ‘cause it keeps me from what is happening right here. Now, I’ve done plenty of planning, And I’ve had some things happen. I know nothing gets built, Without making decisions. And if there’s work to be done, hun, I’ll gladly go do it. But, if there’s life to be lived, Then, I’d rather live through it. ‘Cause, I have thoughts of the ocean, That come nightly crashing, But I have remembrance Of other things, too. I don’t want you to think, I’m constantly longing, For things that are different, Or far-flung from here.


Available on cassette from Antiquated Future:

A tale of returns.

An album about Failure and Terror and Hope-in-the-Face-of-Adversity.

A reminder that it is our friends who keep us alive.

A lesson in similar spelling, but disparate sounds.

A postcard from the road.


released August 19, 2016

Banjo, harmonium, vocals, and songs by Jordan O'Jordan

Recorded and mixed by Keith Hanlon at Musicol Recording, in Columbus, Ohio.

Mastered by Adam Boose at Cauliflower Audio, in Cleveland, Ohio.

Deepest thanks for the inspiration/support: Colleen, Kerry, Onyx, Adam, Vickie, Terry, Rebecca, Dane, Zach, Heather, Sean, DavEnd, Guy, Clyde, Joseph Peter, Olivia, Roland, Bryce, Billy Joe, Seth, Barret, Peggy, William, Eve, Jerry, Bruce, Val, Larry, Nevada, and all the lonely roads.


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Jordan O'Jordan Seattle, Washington

These are the sounds that we use to woo water. Issuing forth from some human or other (i.e. Hydrogen bonding; banjo- and heart-strings).

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