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Proverbs of Hell

by John McDaid

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Make An Effort (A fortune-cookie campfire song) Well I started out at Enron Where I traded gas and power We were cornerin' the market We were jacking up the prices Had a really good accountant And some special purpose entities You gotta make an effort if you wanna get to big to fail CHORUS Well you gotta make an effort If you wanna turn a profit Well you gotta make an effort If you wanna turn a profit Well you gotta make an effort If you wanna turn a profit Well you gotta make an effort if you wanna turn a profit today I was working down on Wall Street When the market was flyin' We were hedging our positions We were pumping up the bubble Learned to turn a risky mortgage Into a security You gotta make an effort if you wanna get too big to fail CHORUS I was campin' at Zuccotti With the other Occupiers I was sellin' lots of t-shirts I was movin' bumper stickers I was turning' the resistance Into a commodity You gotta make an effort if you wanna smash the state (That's what the t-shirt said) CHORUS I was workin with the Russians And some analysts from Cambridge We were data mining Facebook We were dominating Twitter Turned a life of public service Into a liability You gotta make an effort if you wanna win elections today CHORUS Well I finally went to prison For about an hour on a Sunday I was visiting my cousin He got busted for shoplifting I had really tried to warn him 'Bout the risk of petty larceny You gotta make an effort if you wanna turn a profit today
Aaron Swartz 04:38
Aaron Swartz Well he grew up at the keyboard Reading newsgroups, learning code Out on the Net where skill is freedom And who you might be matters less than what you know At fifteen he wrote the standard To syndicate the web Chorus Aaron Swartz The internet's own boy The internet's own boy The internet's own boy He helped build Creative Commons Make court decisions free to read He launched the movement That brought the freedom-killing SOPA to its knees His actions did not go unnoticed By the DOJ and FBI Chorus He wrote the Open Access Manifesto Taught us to hack democracy Founded Demand Progress To organize online and in the streets Battled surveillance and corruption Stood with those who fought for change Chorus He took on those who lock up information Downloading journals at MIT With a laptop in a closet He tried to show that academic research should be free* But they dragged him off in handcuffs Threatened thirty years prison time Chorus He was found in his apartment Unrepentant to the last Another bite of Turing's apple Showing once again how justice serves the dead hand of the past But he left us with the vision Now its up to us to live the change Chorus *As in speech, not necessarily as in beer
Time To Face Facts The earth you walk is hollow, and you're not convinced it's round Six thousand years of history Turtles all the way down It's all in flux Ex nihilo nihil fit to fiat lux And now you wander through the Sephiroth Gormless as the Page of Cups You believe in Angels And ancient astronauts You've walked the plains of Nazca And searched for Noah's Ark You've journeyed East And you know the stars control Your destiny Now you await reincarnation Or perhaps The Singularity If you can't take the heat It's because you're living in a house of wax Get your head out of The Clouds It's time to face facts You've relieved your subluxations and done primal therapy You've punctured your meridians and had psychic surgery You're OT III. Released your body thetans and you're Clear You made a pilgrimage to Virginia Beach and heard the sleeping prophet Whisper in your ear. You avoid GMOs, don't use cell phones, Or risk tumors from WiFi You eat like a Neanderthal Cleanse and detoxify You've done NLP Armloads of copper bands adjust your chi You swear by Ayurvedic scraping And tiny drops of homeopathy If you're still feeling sick It's cuz you're looking for needles in all the wrong haystacks Take off those pinhole glasses It's time to face facts Four acres of burning office can melt unprotected steel Even Stanley Kubrick couldn't make the moon landings look that real The Holocaust is fact There was no false flag at the Sandy Hook attack Apologies to Oliver Stone But Oswald acted alone And so did Jack Chemtrails are condensation Autism is unrelated to vaccines There is no perpetual motion Illuminati don't control your dreams You may get your news from Fox Sleep in an Orgone box To keep the black helicopters away Use that ten percent of your brain and do the math Cold fusion would happen every day If you can't see the truth, it's cuz you're looking at it in parallax Take off your tin foil hat It's time to face facts
Heaven Underground Heaven/is falling The angels/lie on sidewalks in the rain. The serpent/calling Up from the lost world/buried deep within our brain. And the saints have piled up in the streets Their sacred blood staining the sheets Their haloes and bones have been sold Pried loose before the bodies were cold And the Rainbow disappears with the dawn And there's nothing left to carry us on And there is no salvation to be found Now that Heaven's underground. Darkness/descending Unending/as the chaos runs its course. We grind on/pretending Nothing/left us but remorse. And the voices that speak in our dream Offer comforts as cold as they seem As faces fade off in the noise And the lost take the Hand that destroys And there are no stories left to tell Now that Earth inhabits Hell Bridge It's forever and it's worse than it appears. This brave new world is just the sum of all your fears. And each day follows senseless on the last. With no way out of the demon haunted past... (Spoken: "Dingir Pazuzu Qatu Dingir Ishtar") The Heroes/are dead now Their bodies/scattered ashes in the deep. The Prophet/unread now In the sound and the fury of reason's final sleep. And all along the roads to the Dome the dead appear to carry us home and the angels have begun now to rise their screaming held back in the skies and the world is just the walls of a cave... As we look up the sides of the grave... And there is no salvation to be found Now that Heaven's underground Ahh oooh Ahh oooh Ahh oooh
Something Wicked This Way Comes We been living in the sewers We been sleeping in the fields We been counting crows at midnight In back alleys of the Wheel All the time I see it coming Like the rising of the Moon Hairless apes obsessed with poison Brutal engines spraying doom Heat the air and raise the ocean Call down torrents from the sky Not a hand was raised in protest As they watched the planet die By the pricking of my thumbs Something wicked this way comes Something wicked This way comes From before the dawn of reason Risen from the thoughtless sea Their furry forebears scrabbled mindless Flake the rock and burn the tree Dig the ore and smelt the metal Pump the oil into its veins Tease the spark to leap the gap Leave mute nature to rot in chains We've been hiding in the background Crawling mindless through their dream Hoping for some chance connection Ground insensate by their scheme By the pricking of my thumbs Something wicked this way comes Something wicked This way comes Now we stand by fate connected Hand to hand and heart to heart As we watch them lurch toward doomsday And the final battle starts Call us Caliban or Grendel The slow return of the repressed Earth will find a path to balance For her children dispossessed Nature's had enough of humans Now we ride with Doctor Ain As we join the marching forest To the hill of Dunsinane By the pricking of my thumbs Something wicked this way comes Something wicked This way comes
Check Out Time At The Owl Creek Hotel For Vonda McIntyre There are hotels Along the border Of the real and the realms beyond We sometimes wake there Standing before them Reduced to pure Phenomenon Some inhabit Evanescent bubbles Bulging from the plethyverse Some lie in liminal Dimensions Where all that rises Must converge A burst of brightness Buzzing blooming Bellhops lead us through the portico And transcendence Sinks to transience Another spin 'Round this bardo CHORUS Stars wheel above In unfamiliar constellations There are hints of palm trees and desert sky Faces that you half remember Welcome you back with a smile And the desk clerk says your room is ready And someone you think you ought to know Whispers, “I will purge thy mortal grossness So that thou shalt like an airy spirit go.” We find ourselves In such a moment Dust, random walking in shafts of light Angelic orders watch In mute amazement At the onrush Of the night There's bouzoukis In the lobby With tambourines and violins In the stairwell Guitars and banjos Out by the pool A theremin Behind the front desk Lurks an aleph That can show all time and space Corridors and rooms Endlessly emerging Far beyond this Nutshell-bounded place CHORUS They're playing games On the veranda Feels like that time back at Black Diamond Bay You can choose Your own adventure The one thing That you can't do is stay Musicians jam Late in the evening As the captain brings carafes of wine Down in the ballroom Sequins sparkle Cheek to cheek In three-quarter time She catches your eye From the dance floor A wraith of implicate design She is the zeitgeist Of the building One touch can heal A troubled mind CHORUS Amid the circles And room parties And conversations in the bar All the house staff Relentless, unicursal Gently prod us back To where we are A hundred billion children Have dreamed the hotel In an insubstantial pageant, as are we all And the hotel Returns the favor For those who quicken At its call Vacuum energy Free, free falling We live between the drop and snap We check in For such a short time Before the endless Calls us back OUTTRO CHORUS And the desk clerk says your room is ready And someone you think you ought to know Whispers, “I will purge thy mortal grossness So that thou shalt like an airy spirit go.” Thou shalt like an airy spirit go Like an airy spirit go Airy spirit go Spirit Go
Red Light Red Well, I'm rolling down the tunnel I don't see nothing there but green So I call up my controller She's a friend I never seen And I say, "Hey there pretty lady, what's the situation up ahead?" She says, "You better slow down There ain't no way around They're using backhoes to clear out the dead." Refrain Oh no, red light red Oh no there's trouble up ahead Oh no, red light red Oh no there's trouble up ahead there's trouble up ahead now there's trouble up ahead now Well I went to ask the Watchman She looked just like Emily I says, "What about mantra yoga and quantum indeterminacy?" She says, "Boy, don't you go fucking around with magic. And don't go messing with the past. 'Cause you, if you ever find A prayer to touch that mind, You'd just better hope it kills you fast." Well, there is a River out of Eden And it runs down to the Sound. And we lie here crushed and beaten In a fruitless search for higher ground. In the back I hear them crying, "Is all lost, or can we win?" We hang beset by doubt, ten miles out way below the glide slope, headin in. Oh no, red light red Oh no, there's trouble up ahead. Trouble up ahead now Trouble up ahead now
That's Trump 01:55
That’s Trump He came down from heaven on a golden escalator He's the voice of the people, he's a job creator Got a secret plan for Isis that he'll -- tell you later That's Trump Well he came from New York City where his daddy got him goin' With some nice apartment buildings and a million dollar loan Now he treats the Oval Office like another thing to own That's Trump Got a chief strategist quoted praising Satan And a basket of deplorables who spend their lives hatin' You wanna see his tax returns, you're gonna do some waitin' That's Trump Well he's a little fuzzy on the Constitution Got a taste for some early morning Twitter retribution Has the alt-right itchin' for the final solution That's Trump Well he's got a reputation for stiffing his contractors He likes to insult women, the press, and his detractors And he don't take no lip from hammy Broadway actors That's Trump Break People of America Democracy depends on you If we all resist this madness Together we might turn the tide Well his financial entanglements are a little hairy His efforts at diplomacy have all been pretty scary Got a cabinet reminds me of Doctor Caligari That's Trump He's got buddies in the NRA whose one issue is shootin' And climate change deniers who aim to keep pollutin' But he's got a special fondness for his BFF named Putin That's Trump Well, he'd probably like to strangle him some folk singers Who poke his fragile ego with their clever zingers But I don't think he could do it with those tiny little fingers That's Trump
Punching Nazis The skies are turning gray there’s a tempest on the way We’re seeking shelter The pundits on TV say it’s the price of being free That’s helter skelter I’m looking at upraised hands And losers wearing black armbands As children from foreign lands are dragged away NOT TODAY Chorus Firewalk with me cuz we’re taking to the streets We’re punching Nazis We’ve been here before and this time we know the score We’re punching Nazis Disregard the lies and just believe your eyes We’re punching Nazis We’ve had all we can take, Democracy’s at stake We’re punching Nazis The people feel abused and their anger has been used By those in power Standing on the stage, feeding back their rage In bloody showers We’re living inside the head Of Breitbart’s walking dead They expect us to ignore what is said and look away NOT TODAY CHORUS We’ve been herded to the right and taught to fear the brilliant light Of reason Sold a false belief by the Twitterer-in-Chief It’s highest treason But we’re rising from the spell we broke See the sleeping giant that awoke Now we’re shouting back at the spokesman for the crime NOT THIS TIME CHORUS
Time (Welcome To My Nightmare) Time knows me well Time matches my stride Time ticks off every heart beat Time waits beside Every moment of danger Each impending disaster Time stands still in the crisis Then time flies on faster CHORUS It's just an illusion This sense of existence Buoyed aloft from the quantum Off in Heisenberg distance It's pure self deception, this idea of being an Agent with choice When the bubbling particle chaos below us Alone has a voice And that voice says Welcome Welcome To my nightmare Time is evolution Time is red, tooth and claw Time wastes itself Time rubs me raw I lost all sense of time Counting the lines on my face While time marches me on In its unswerving embrace CHORUS It's just an illusion A trick of the mind The hubris of a point Surveying a line In a space that's surrounded By a darkness so deep Our little life rounded By unthinking sleep where we say Welcome Welcome To my nightmare Time rolls down its hill Implacable and incremental Time strips us of dignity, children, and friends Time is unsentimental Time patiently waits To shuffle off this mortal flesh that we drag Where every time we close our eyes is just A dress rehearsal rag CHORUS It's just an illusion Like Christ and cryonics We're plasmids in amber One of matter's harmonics Time transeuntem Et non revertentum We all have the same dreams No use asking who sent them We just say Welcome Welcome To my nightmare
Nevermore 03:16
Nevermore Down the street at midnight Where the ocean rocks and rolls Where the  mermaids sleep and the lawyers creep And the bankers sell their souls Now we slide through silent darkness Out waiting for the light As the world decays While we search for ways To make it through the night CHORUS Nevermore Nevermore Say nevermore Say nevermore We were waiting for the whistle We were lying on the tracks All the lies we’d seen On the phosphor screen Well they all came flooding back Now we could wait for forever In the horror and the cold As we learn the feel Of this deadly steel And our rights already sold CHORUS It’s the evanescent future Unfolding as we stand In these empty streets Trapped in self deceit In a life we never planned Can we ever catch the phoenix? Can we find a heart to keep? As the waves below Wash the world we know To the unimagined deep CHORUS
Love On The Moon The world has no reason The world has no mind And we know that it all ends too soon But when you lose all hope ya End up in a dystopia As barren as Love on the Moon Chorus So, paint your banners And hold them up high You know that you've only begun As the earth's only creatures That know we will die We're searching for Love in the Sun We live in the shadows We work in the dark Out of the heat of the long afternoon Like helpless babies we're crawlin When fate comes callin And we're fallin In love on the Moon Chorus There's a voice in the thunder It calls your name And no one is ever immune To that sudden seizure That will torque ya and squeeze ya As it frees ya from Love on the Moon


released July 28, 2019

Cover art by John Pierard


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John McDaid Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Award-winning science fiction writer, freelance journalist, folk/filk singer-songwriter.

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