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The Transients

Gregg Shotwell


(I)
After my son died in the war
I wore his hat and vest
His leather bracelets
His ring his dog tags his jacket
I clutched everything I could
Of his vanishing spirit
I wore his vestments
Like a swathe
On a wound that wouldn't heal
Commemoration was my mission


(II)
Death is not a stranger
But grief is an orphan
I had no desire to let go
Of a sinking compulsion
I dove into the undertow
(III)
Diaspora never ends
Every transient understands
The arc of justice bends
Toward the pinnacles of power
Time is no healer

Every wanderer confronts

A moral judgement
Who are you to defy order
Who are you to deny conformity
The Gilded Moral
Give to the poor
What they feel the poor
Do not deserve
Transients haunt
The streets of America
Worthless disposable but
Permanent and irrevocable
As the automaton of profit
Defiles every torso beggared
On the crossroads of America


(IV)
I wore the vestiges
Of my son's death
Like a cape of commitment
To transients whom Capital
Can neither capitalize nor consume
America cannot tolerate on its face
Slavery massacre genocide
Abandoned toxic wastelands
Losers have their place in the order
In my isolation I recognized my standing
I wore my grief until my face
Was inscrutable as ancient languages
Etched in stone with tools crude as pain
One face among many faces
Trespassing the plains of America's desolation

(VI)
Faces of transients
Older than the memories they contain
Lines chiseled around the mouth and eyes
With blunt voices and words of disdain
Faces scuffed like soles
Faces that live up to names they are called
Faces that can't fake it at all
Faces that lack all expectation
Faces that spit and expect spit back
Faces that cry like ice when they crack
Slugged faces
Shut up faces
Faces that turn faces away
Faces afraid they’ll be called on to say
Who they are and why
They have arrived here now
Faces that gave up long ago
And go on just to say I told you so
Faces dumb as barrels
Faces dull as door knobs
Faces bleak as bent nails
Faces that scratch your eyes out
With a glance
Faces that won’t let you forget
Faces that don’t have a chance
And don’t know it yet
Faces deserted like scenes of disaster
Faces in control of the pain

Faces like windows wet with rain
Faces you can read yet never explain
Faces that grieve
Faces that grovel
Faces blunt as the grave digger’s shovel
Faces in mirrors
Faces on fire
My face as I face
The naked desire
Of America's grief
And tremble like a thief
In the light

Stop Dickin' Around
Gregg Shotwell & Jeff Pieprzyk


I got biscuits in the oven
Gravy in the pan
I’m stirrin' greasey greens
and waitin' on my man
Stop dickin' around
Stop dickin' around
Stop dickin'
Dick Nixon n'
get home now
I got chicken on the grill
Pie coolin' by the fan
I’m stirrin' pork n' beans
and waitin' on my man
Stop dickin' around
Stop dickin' around
Stop dickin'
Dick Nixon and
get home now
I got a pig in a barrel
Whiskey in a can
I’m whippin' up the cream
and waitin' on my man
Stop dickin' around
Stop dickin' around
Stop dickin'
Dick Nixon and
get home now

Leaky Toilet & the Cadillac Blues

Gregg Shotwell & Jeff Pieprzyk

Man, I'm tired,
been a hell of a day,
nothin' seems
to go my way,
I want a lazy-boy sway,
need to kick off my shoes,
But I got a leaky toilet
and the Cadillac blues.
My Caddy's spittin' oil,
it's leavin' black tracks,
and now I get a shot
of the plumber's ass crack.
Two problems at once,
which should I choose?
I got a leaky toilet
and the Cadillac blues.
The toilet is fixed now,
the Caddy's in the shop.
Man-o-man when
will this shit stop?
You know what I mean,
it's ain’t headline news,
Just a leaky toilet
and the Cadillac blues.

People Are Cheaper

(dedicated to unjustly fired volunteer union organizers, Noel Riddell and Manuel Eades)

Gregg Shotwell

Good engineering
makes assembly quicker.
Yeah high tech is good
but people are cheaper.
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Use people up
dump 'em when you’re done.
A whole lot more
where they come from.
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Wear 'em out so fast
may as well hire temps.
Won’t be bothered
by no commitments.
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Best process, they say,
is user friendly.
But who thinks future
When everyone is temporary?
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Lotsa money to be made
in the Bluegrass State.
Expectation's low,
n’ a promise is bait.
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Don't need a robot
to work the factory floors.
Work ya' till they hurt ya'
then throw ya' outdoors.
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Toyota don't heed
no democracy.
Too messy, they say,
n’ a union is waste.
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Good engineering
makes assembly quicker.
Yeah high tech is good
but people are cheaper.
Down in Toyota,
Toyota town, Kentucky.

Won't Be Around To Kick Anymore

Gregg Shotwell & Jeff Pieprzyk


You call me dirty names
You plaster my fame
You stick my mug shot
On momma’s window pane
I got one thing to say
you dizzy ho’
I won’t be around
to kick anymo’
I'm Nixon
Dick Nixon
N' I won't be around
For you to kick anymo’
You vote for my opponent
You eat the last donut
You get pregnant when I'm gone
But you won’t say who done it
I got one thing to say
you dizzy ho’
I won’t be around
to kick anymo’
I'm Nixon
Dick Nixon
N' I won't be around
for you to kick anymo’
You lie about my past
You sell stories to the press
You can’t wait to cry foul
When I’m doing my best
I got one thing to say
you dizzy ho’
I won’t be around
to kick anymo’
I'm Nixon
Dick Nixon
N' I won't be around
for you to kick anymo’

Dodge Main Blues

Gregg Shotwell

Sully wants my paycheck, foreman wants my soul,
I'm fallin' far behind, I'm porin' out my soul,
They’re speedin' up the line, I’m workin' in the hole.
Sully come up from Kentucky lookin' for a job,
Hopped a north bound freight, caught an auto job,
Did his time on the line, and then got robbed.
Been out too long to give in now,
Too far gone to go back now,
Down too long to give up any how.
Sully’s long tall lover is comin' down the aisle,
Boots talk the walk when she's stalkin' down the aisle,
Crowbar in her hand, vengeance in her smile.
Got a cat named Struggle and a dog named Strike,
Her heart's fulla struggle, her muscles ache to strike,
Been totin' cold iron and she's ready for a fight.
Been out too long to give in now,
Too far gone to go back now,
Down too long to give up any how.
Sully runs the numbers, his lover breaks the bones,
Sully keeps the score while his woman's bustin' bones,
Stay away from gamblin', you’ll never need a loan.
Sully's got the red light, his lover's got the green,
Eyes bettin' on the red, rollin' on the green,
Ain't nobody lookin' nowheres in between.
Been out too long to give in now,
Too far gone to go back now,
Down too long to give up any how.
A head fulla schemes makes a gambler bold,

A pocket fulla money makes a bettin' man bold,
Sully owned her heart but his soul'd been sold.
The dog is a howlin' n' the cat’s in heat,
No one but the devil can beat this heat,
Sully’s in the alley, there's sirens in the street.
Been out too long to give in now,
Too far gone to go back now,
Down too long to give up any how.
Never saw a woman look so alone,
Never knew a woman stand so alone,
In the shadow of a street lamp, cold as stone.
I was backed up in the hole, fallin' behind,
Heard a rumble below, a yellin' from behind,
I been workin' so fast, now I’m bankin' time.
Been out too long to give in now,
Too far gone to go back now,
Down too long to give up any how.

Don't Wake Me Til I'm Dead
Gregg Shotwell & Jeff Pieprzyk


I loved you, baby,
we shared my bed,
but I don't recall
if you're blond or red.
The way you ball, baby,
I can't tell
livin' from dyin',
heaven from hell.
Don't wake me, baby,
till you're sure that I'm dead,
Don't wake me, baby,
till my head's cold as lead.
So much pain in
my brain, I can't think,
so much glaze in my gaze,
baby, I can't blink.
Toothache in my heel
is bitin' my cheek.
My stomach's clawin'
to crawl out of my teeth.
Don't wake me, baby,
till you're sure that I'm dead,
Don't wake me, baby,
till my head's cold as lead.
Don't shoot me no narcan
when I'm deep in my nod,
I'm cravin' to get beyond
the hurt wrackin' my bod,
I got a rap sheet long
as a double-motive train
from first went wrong
to can't go home again.
Don't wake me, baby,
till you're sure that I'm dead,
Don't wake me, baby,
till my head's cold as lead.
When I rise and you're gone
I'll regret I'm alive
and still singin' this song
about a night in a dive

with a blackout blonde.
Or was that blackout red?
Was it you or your mom
I found lyin' in my bed?
Don't wake me, baby,
till you're sure that I'm dead,
Don't wake me, baby,
till my head's cold as lead.

Down to the Ground
Gregg Shotwell


You gotta do what you
gotta do
but I gotta do
what you tell me to.
You gotta say what you
gotta say
but I gotta take
whatn’hell you pay.
I’m goin down,
down to the ground
where I can turn
this shit around.
You gotta sell what you
gotta sell
but I gotta buy
at the price you tell.
You gotta make what you
gotta make
but I gotta pay
for your mistakes.
I’m goin down,
down to the ground
where I can turn
this shit around.
Now I gotta do
what I gotta do
cause you givin me
the wage cut blues.
Now I gotta say
what I gotta say
cause the game you play
is stealin my pay.
I’m goin down,

down to the ground
where I can turn
this shit around.
Now I gotta yell
what I gotta yell
cause what you’re sellin
is a livin hell.
Now I gotta shake
what I gotta shake
cause what you dish is
too hard to take.
I’m goin down
down to the ground
where I can turn
this shit around.
I’m goin’ down
I’m goin’ down
I’m goin’ down
down to the ground.
Down to the ground
down to the ground
where I can
turn this shit around
Yeah turn this shit around.

Now they gonna make us shut up  

Gregg Shotwell


Now they gonna make us shut up
—sharpen pencils for them and
wet the lead between our lips
Now they gonna make us shut up
—take a wage cut and walk away
like nothing happened out of the ordinary
Now they gonna make us shut up
—automatically deduct from paychecks
for things we don’t want
Now they gonna make us shut up
—call overtime mandatory and
health insurance optional
Now they gonna make us shut up
—give us new rules, old tools, and
zero tolerance for being human
Now they gonna make us shut up
—cut our break time, break our lunch time,
get written permission to urinate
Now they gonna make us shut up
—sign over our pensions to stock brokers
working on straight commission
Now they gonna make us shut up
—work twice as hard for half as much
and repeat after me, “I’m lucky to have a job”
Now they gonna make us shut up
—kneel down and tie their laces
say please and thank you to their faces
Now they gonna make us shut up

Results Not Causes

Camille Shotwell Brown


Hunger in my soul, ache in my step
Hunger in my soul, ache in my step
I'm walkin' a line between battle and regret
Been waitin' down at the union hall
Been waitin' down at the union hall
Standin' waitin' for the bossman's call
When the rumblin' comes, when you hear them drums
Best remember, bosses, they’re results not causes
Stuck in a rut with a boot on my neck
Stuck in a rut with a boot on my neck
Rather build a Walmart than get no check
Livin' hand to mouth tryin' to get by
Livin' hand to mouth tryin' to survive
Every two weeks I gotta recertify
When the rumblin' comes, when you hear them drums
Best remember, bosses, they’re results not causes
I've seen the strength of desperate men
I've seen the strength of desperate men
We should be askin', If not now, when?
Some say we should cut our losses
Buck up and throw a shine at the bosses
They don't know the difference 'tween results and causes
When the rumblin' comes, when you hear them drums
Best remember, bosses, they’re results not causes

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