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All The Best Cowboys Have
Chinese Eyes Liner Notes
There have always been times like these. the multi-coloured
spheres crash and collide, the triangle expands and explodes.
eventually there is nothing.
They were being attacked from all sides. everything seemed
hopeless. There seemed to he no language in which they could
communicate to their adversaries. to beseech them for mercy. At a
crucial moment a natural leader emerged. His horse was dry and
cool when all others were frothing and bleeding, his leather clothes dusty and
worn. His lace was keen and firm, lightly lined and weather beaten. The must
remarkable thing about him was his eyes; half shut against the wind blown dust
and the noise of guns. The pupils seemed hidden and colourless, dilated so much
by the brilliance of the sand-reflected sun they appeared like needle points.
He saved them all by skilful organizing and rallying rhetoric. He sacrificed
those among them he felt were strong enough to be in the front line, weak enough
to become mindlessly obedient in a crisis.
When the enemy were finally defeated he led the rest home to safety.
Once home it didn't take long for them to lose their way again. They lost
husbands and wives, the closeness and changes of their children and families,
the regular contact with old friends and lovers. their hold on normality
(particularly vis a vis money). and finally somehow, somewhere, they lost God.
While Hollywood was being born. and fools learned how to behave like stars under
a Caligulan sky, blood ran in the European trenches. When the twenties arrived
men who are now British grandfathers became free again- no more uniforms.
Back in Hollywood those stars were learning the art and the lessons of decadence
while around them thousands starved in the Depression. During the day they
circled their cardboard wagons or re-lived biblical stories as epics. At night
they drank freely, smoked, tasted cocaine and made love. The boredom was
There was a grey area in humanity between the truly stelliferous beings and the
ordinary semi-starving mass who paid their last few coins to re-live an
acquaintance with heroism. Most of them were not stars in the true sense; they
didn't stop traffic and never cared to. But many of them wanted to touch
hearts and be revered. or get close to those who could do that. They worshipped
the memory, however distant and hazy, of the man who had redeemed them years
before. If unable for any reason to on attempting to reach out or their deal
they became frustrated. But they had confused real heroism with power, they had
become atavistic. There was an ironic justice in force though; had they actually
become like one of those pathetic pedestal souls they wanted to emulate -
insular and alone - they might have drowned in a very confused sea.
For some of the sea runs with oil and gas;
Great stag beetle helicopters plough to and fro
To gantries in the northern oceans.
To some the sea holds fish;
The whale, the makerel and the ray.
early morning home and even earlier away.
For some the sea has only a surface;
Reflecting sunrise and sunset, cloud and sky
For viewers on vandalized promenade benches.
For some the sea evokes an idea of God.
It's peace and rages, expanse and magnificence
All a testament framed by the globe to his majesty.
For others the sea is a dumping ground;
A covenient dilutant for sewage
Rivers artificially halted by the dam
Run underground to pollute their ultimate goal.
For me once the sea was a promise,
A memory of what seemed an endless love.
It proved not to be endless but enough perhaps.
Now the sea is a vast accessible wasteland;
An infinitude in which to hide your cupfuls of tears,
Tomorrow the sea will be the place to dive and swim,
To flow and timelessly drown in Pacific patience.
Then again, the sea will still be the sea.
And me? I will still be merely me.
Stardom, was an invention - like pool. not an exclusively American game - that took the world by the throat while the USA was still under
It was a significant concurrence. In the movies there was freedom,
celebration and free flowing booze,
The movie made the star and the star made movies, but somewhere men with
calculating screwed up eyes
- a little like our hero's- made the real killings. Years later rock
and roll, a half grown teacher, tried to create stars. The men with snake-like
slits for eyes reaped again, but is the pusher really worse than the junkie?
Everyone needed someone to blame. Some accused politicians, some whole races of
people different to themselves, some pointed fingers at established religions.
There were some who ended their lives because they felt too ordinary, too much
like others; too uniform. Even they were placing blame, but they alone among
millions could have been close to the truth.
Most of them looked into the eyes of all the accusers, all the world righting
revolutionaries, and saw a reflection of the very evil those
ardent meglomaniacs were determined to expose in others. On the other hand they
saw people already convicted of heinous crimes and incredible cruelty whose eyes
seemed to laugh quite genuinely.
It was almost as though a great burden had been lifted from them. They seemed to
be saying that the potential for evil is within - not with out. Best to laugh
because a smile is the greatest force to hurl against suffering. But look at the
smiling cowboy, the natural leader and champion of the downtrodden soul. He
smiled as he urged them all to war, "Just once more"
Somehow they arrived alive. Somehow they found the broken bottle trail without
help. All stars, great and small, shine under God. It was only impudence and
frivolity that conspired to make any one
of them try to get higher. A smite is still merely a smile, Anyone for snooker?*
I walked between identical houses,
In towns so similar the memory of each blends.
I walked through forests,
God paid attention to detail
But on the surface one forest is much like another,
I walked between identical soldiers.
They belonged to opposing armies.
Armies so similar they fought one another for history.
Those who survived resumed living together.
I walked with children,
Their faces painted and streaked, their clothes preened,
I watched their delight in being alike.
I heard music drift down,
Cello struck vamps of twitching lethargy.
I looked at the heroes
And the junkies in the billiard hall -
All the best cowboys have Chinese eyes..
* Snooker and billiards are a little like pool.
All games like marbles are atomic
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