All Year Again

(Music and lyrics by Yoko Oji Kikuchi)
I’ll be wicked obvious, laying on my stomach ache
You’ll be right about me; I’ll obsess over you to your face
One hand in the sand, one foot in the water
A party of six, your surrogate daughter
Your mouth is a jukebox, my back is the beach
We’re sleeping and dancing, a little of each
I don’t want to leave here, I want to move in
I’d start with my secrets, but where have they been?

“Summer ended in early August this year,” so you say
The beach dirt still fills up your shoes, the chlorine’s still inside your face
I say this: “If I wake up in Brooklyn, the day will last all week.”
And I say this: “If I wake up in Brooklyn, I can never be sad.”

And if I am to wake up in Brooklyn
I’d start with my secrets, but where have they been?
Too dirty and wordy for your windowsill
They’ll fall to the backyard like old Bad Luck Bill
And if I am to wake up in the South Bronx
I’d start with my shoes, but I can’t find my socks
I’ll walk in bare feet downtown to Manhattan
The day will last all year again


Anatomically Correct
She used that body like a cashier’s check
You folded like a tablecloth
Whenever her T-shirt came off
Anaphylactic Shock
She shook your ticker to its very last tock
Your nerves all shot like silly string
The end was near, the end was nothing new
I’ve got Anamorphic Widescreen
And I can’t complain about the view
The Animaniacs are everywhere
And everybody knows they don’t stay true
But I can’t help pretending — Anna, I love you
Remember when the shit got rough
And Anabolic had to act so tough
There ain’t no shame in confidence
But there damn sure is some in violence
So never, ever lend CDs
‘Cause Anaconda’s gonna squeeze, squeeze, squeeze
Like everything’s her property
She won’t say please, she won’t say sorry
Anorexia Nervosa
The thinning hair, those hollow, hungry eyes
The Animaniacs are everywhere
And everybody knows that they tell lies
But I can’t help believing — Anna, I’m your guy

The Cape

Before you leave the cape
Was it everything you asked for
When you wrote to ask if you could stay?
A weekend is a time bomb
A countdown on an iPhone
An oldies station dedication day

Oh my God, it’s really too bad you came
We swore we’d stop, but it’s the only thing to keep us entertained

I came up in July
Stayed in your apartment
Wondered what we’d have the nerve to try
I’d say watch a movie
But you threw out your TV
The only resolution you stuck by

Oh, I know, you’ve never been so ashamed
Take heart, make love, just do it like you know my middle name

Stay bright, learn what it’s like
Kissing a Christian under her eyes
Stay soft, cute when you cough
What do you whisper when you get off?
Stay slight, you’ve got a type
I gotta practice, what do you like?
It’s late now, figure it out
It’s never too late to change

It’s really not so far
You didn’t have to walk me
But grace is still a virtue
And we’ve got ours to burn through
We’re the only ones we have to blame

Cecil B. DeMille, Pt. 3

This is the last time we back down
It’s getting too big now to ignore it
We saw the knock-down, the drag-out
We knew the dead men who paid for it
We’ve heard the tough talk of dead letters
But this is the ding-dong, the doorbell
What do you do when the stock plummets?
You break out the eight-track and raise hell
We are the tick-tock, the time bomb
We wanna protest, but can’t show it
This is the recluse, the goth girl
This is the rebel, the punk poet
We are the ones who react first
We never speak till the last moment
We’ve seen the wise ones at their worst
We know what happens if we blow it
We are the sunset, the soft kiss
We are the children who came from it
We are the names on the NOC list
We are the tune that you’re still humming
This is the wasteland, the malltown
These are the things we can do for it
We are the backbeat, the breakdown
We are the buildup, the last chorus
This is the love song you write down
When you wake up with no plans and no money
This is the joke that you pass down
When you hear it the tenth time, it’s still funny
We are the ones who react first
We know what happens if we blow it
We know for a fact that it gets worse
And there’s nothing to do now but keep going

Dead Man

Say you like that song, I might still trust you
Say you like that song, we’ve been writing names and numbers down
Say you like that song, we just might have potential
Say you like that song, please be honest

Bad machine, get out, get clean
Get close, get cut, bleed out, heal up
Get gagged, get drugged, sixteen, get up
That’s it, I’m done, I said I’m not your son

Turn the jukebox down, we can sing this one together
Say you like that song, we’ve been taking names and ages for granted
Turn the jukebox down, turn that down, make the most of it
Say you know your father, it’s just semiotics

Bad machine, get out, get clean
Look sad, roughed up, talk sweet, we won
Get gagged, get drugged, sixteen, get up
That’s it, I’m done, I said I’m not your son

Pollen spreads around like flu
Velazquez had a date with you
He asks me what I think of you
When I’m down in the (202)
You jumped back when the bruise bled blue
You jumped back when the still life moved
You had no chance, you always knew
The dead man in the dream was you
The dead man in the dream is you

Oh, I know you thought we’d get caught
We just hung from the rafters
Oh, when it got cold, we got bold
Stretched you out like a dancer
Please, eyes shut, bad dream, wake up
That’s it, I’m done, that’s it, I’m done
That’s it, I’m done, I said I’m not your son
The dead man in the dream is you

Die Hard

Say how you feel when you’re feeling inadequate
Press all your friends into memory foam
Feel with your eyes when your friends can’t handle it
Some friendly girl might feel like home
Break out the jeans with the flat-front pockets
Smile all you want when you’re paying for lunch
Once you get down into boyfriend trouble
The pecks on the cheek won’t count for much

Evenings meeting up with a tube sock
Steeped in bleach without any lights off
Days in China, writing the future
Nights with a glue gun
When did it get so good?

Stressed out, anemic like a bad vegetarian
Got no idea what you’re blogging about
’Cause even the house show scene’s sectarian
I’m not the one who sold you out
Press pass to feel like a tour bus passenger
Press shots to feel like you’ve done it before
Pay stubs are nice and your eyes are delicate
You’re not the one we waited for

VIPs with CD advances
We ID if you wanna dance
We said this field was writing intensive
Write me a rent check
When did it get so good?

Great ideas, radical blindness
Censored on account of your shyness
You say it’s just business, I figured as much
And now you’re overcharging me for what I did to your old crush

The Graduate

Graduate to better things: square feet and income tax
You go back to where you came from
And you can’t seem to relax
Before you know it, everyone you know lives in New York
Once they find your favorite coffee shop
You just can’t go there anymore
And mixtapes get much harder once your friends have indie cred
The weekend’s twice as lonely when you spend it half in bed
And the Facebook folks get worried you don’t love ‘em anymore
But it’s nothing against them
It’s just getting accustomed takes some time
There’s a party in your memory
Where you met your college queen
But you’ve left the party circuit
For the after-party scene
And finding someone friendly’s not as tough as you expect
But distraction gets the best of you
Sometimes this city stinks like sex
And when you’re feeling confident, you drop it like it’s hot
And sometimes you’re a gentleman, and sometimes you are not
And your girlfriend’s friends don’t seem to know how beautiful they are
And it’s out of the question
But it’s hard not to mention, so let ‘em know
First-timer, new guy
Firstname dot lastname
I know I’ve seen you somewhere
What are you up to these days?
And everyone needs time to get it right, or so you’ve heard
You’re on your second internship and looking for a third
Your ex-classmates are writing for the magazines you read
And the Gmail logo’s permanently burned into your screen
And sometimes San Francisco seems like it’d be worth a try
You might as well get comfortable and let it pass you by
But you know damn straight no other place you find will feel like home
It’s a grand old adventure
Nothing gained, nothing ventured


I’m too old to get divorced
Better stay the course
‘Cause before long, I’ll be waking up tired every day
I’m too old to make new friends
Better make amends
Time to empty out the junk drawer
For those kinder words I used to say
And so I make my case on scented stationary
Sad and sweet, like a canary with a cold
Did I break my promise?
I’ve just been so nervous
Think I lost a hair for every lie I told
But I’d hate to think that this might be
The last thing that I say to you
I still could run away with you
If you’ll meet me in a dream
And I’m so silly since I met you, honey
I sing myself asleep
You have made an old man happy, Josephine
And I remember Central Park
You were waiting for the carousel to start
Sidesaddle, so you wouldn’t tear your homemade skirt
You had a ponytail and a pink t-shirt
And I remember visiting
The dorm on 57th Street
And the other girls on the frisbee team
Who thought I was your dad
And it’s safe to say that this might be
The hardest thing I’ll ever do
Perhaps someday I’ll send for you
Assuming I’m alive
All those silly things we told each other
We meant them at the time
Now we mean them more than ever

Like Like Like

We have our own apartments
We have no wedding plans
Our twenties are our twenties
All loose lips and busy hands

And all these pretty people make my cheeks all flushed and flattered
Too many good friends and way too much to like, to like
Like after-party sidewalk chats that last forever
Like strands of hair that dance with pairs of eyes
Sometimes it’s hard to breathe
Sometimes it feels like torture
Shaking when you talk, blushing like a birthday girl
Feeling strangely serious and filled with something dangerous

I speak to you in circles
We hear a good song, and laugh like something’s funny
Believe in something sweet and safe and uneventful
And when it goes wrong, try to be surprised
We gave up such a good thing

For something we regret
And in our sleep, we say our sorries
And we try our best to take it back, but we don’t have the heart for that

I see how you inhale so fast and act so different
There is a good friend trapped inside your body
It’s so easy to kiss eyelids in the dead of winter
So hard to say I like you as a friend
And now I don’t know how to touch you
So I take a clumsy guess
The pieces fit; we made it out somehow
Our coffee dates will end in coffee, and that’ll be just fine for now


Lynda Carter never cried when the bad men came
She just looked them in the eyes and said, “Behave.”
And our mothers gave us loving looks
And covered us in comic books
We’d write city symphonies in crayon on the edge of every page

And the armies crawled across our linen sheets on Monday mornings
When a touch of what was going around had come around to us
And our newlywed, adoptive mothers
Covered us in colored covers
We watched I Love Lucy and were happier than we would dare to say

Silver Surfers flew inside
Of our windows every other night
And we’d wake up imagining, we’d wake up imagining
And solar flares and fireballs
Would dance around the threadbare walls
And set our tiny eyes ablaze
With wonder at the things we thought we knew

Lynda Carter never cried when the bad men came
She’d just look them in the eyes and they’d behave
And we’d have our toast with marmalade
Drape sheets across our shoulder blades
And raid the fridge for ice cream
Till we heard the keychain jangling at the door

And our unwed teenage mother
Gave us one too many brothers
But we wrapped him in a pillowcase and loved him all the same
And when Tuesday came along
We went back to singing spelling songs
And Saturday was there before we knew it
And we’d known it all along

Man With a Van

Those girls just think they know you
Wait till we’re through this winter chill
They’ll see right through the plot
And flip on you like tippy-tops
I pray for your new neighbors
You’re black construction paper
Folded into false rewards
You scatter what you can’t absorb

Cold, calculated planning on your part
Pretend like you don’t know I know
Then move away when you get caught
And take a photo with your phone
Of you about to board the train
Wearing Christmas clothes and crossing out my name

But it’s nice to see you
And how have you been?
The man with the van is a friend of a friend

Those girls are old enough to
Make sense of what you’re up to
Though it’s still too close to call
There’s bets on how you’ll lose it all
Christines and Kates and Karens
Good schools and rich white parents
Palin voters all the way
They’ll fill out forms to make you pay

Old, obfuscated adjective supply:
You are made of what I gave you
You know that as well as I
Tell San Francisco, Philadelphia and Washington, DC
You are marked and rights-protected
Best believe you haven’t seen the last of me

My Father

My father calls on Sunday evenings
Children are suffering somewhere, living in a boldfaced lie
And they all probably have my eyes
My father says he’s turned his life around
The devil was dragging him down
But he prayed until the dark lord vanished
Now his screenplay’s almost finished
My father’s got great taste in ovaries
Over and over he’s charmed his way into a nice girl’s heart
But he always leaves before the hardest part
You wonder how I got so feminine
Well, what have I learned about men?
You laugh at that and I do too
You say you’re sad, but glad I told you
And now I kiss your shoulder
And now you stroke my hair
Your daddy buys you ice cream
My daddy’s on the welfare
My father swears we’ll be together soon
Maybe once in a blue moon he sends along a birthday present
It feels so trite, but hey, what doesn’t?
My father calls on Sunday evenings
Pauses for effect and says, “Church was great today!”

Norma Jean

Dear Sir with love: Tell my father I can’t see him anymore
And to his lovely wife, I hope I get to meet you soon
Dear Sarah Jane: We can hide the body under my front porch
Honk twice at midnight if you think we’re best off sticking with the plan
I wouldn’t be so shy, but my girlfriends are always dying
I feel their fathers’ eyes; they choke me when I try to fall asleep
Dear Highland Park: Since it seems I won’t be coming out this year
Take my engagement ring and place it on the grave
Dear Norma Jean: Every song gets better once you’ve heard it twice
I tried to tell you, but the words came out like poison pills again
I wouldn’t be so shy, but my hands are both made of metal
And I would explain it, but I talk through a distortion pedal
Hard-to-get is hard when every kiss feels like reverse transcription
Arguments are over once they’re overacted and overanalyzed

Slow Dance

We slow dance in slow motion
We coast on charm and looks
And it feels like there’s no one watching
And it feels so, it feels so, it feels so, it feels so good


Get-get-get inside your spaceship
You don't have a car, but you don't have to take this
You'll jet up out the city like your favorite authors
Look up at the stars, look up at the stars
You're on the fast track, living from a backpack
Leaving all the sad-sack suckers in the dust behind you
This is how you roll, permanent vacation
You put in your time, now you're out of patience

You could really go, no one's gonna stop you
You could really go, no one's gonna stop you
You could really go, but now you're getting caught up in it
Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute

Think about your friends, think about your other friends
Thinking about you when they can, probably wondering what happened to you
Can't return a call, skipping every breakfast
He tried to be a writer but instead he only fact-checks
Out of shape and uninspired
You force down salad and you just feel tired
And wake up every day and spend it from the get-go
Chewing on your thumb and staring out the window

You could really go, no one's gonna stop you
You could really go, no one's gonna stop you
You could really go if you could spare the money
But you're burning through your twenties for a misdirected, energetic

Asshole living in a castle
Waving ’round a brass pole with a little ball on top
And barking like a tree, debating every sick day
Storming through the office like Katrina on the fifth day
Sitting with your pockets full of fists
And you're staring at your wrists and your scissors and you're shaking so bad
You don't have a car, but you don't have to take this
So pack yourself a pair of socks and get inside a spaceship

Daydream and think of the nights
When they'll sing your name and they'll write it in lights
When the daydream ends like a kick in the chest
You can go out dancing and hope for the best
But then you get so bored you're half-asleep
The girls are jealous and the boys are cheap
A circus of the stars, a battle of the sexes
We're all in love with dying and we're doing it in taxes

Tree Of Sympathy

The tree of sympathy is older than us; older than we can count
The tree of sympathy has pretty much figured it out
The tree of sympathy is full of advice; filled with good things to say
The tree of sympathy feels better for letting you stay
The tree of sympathy is delicate; wisdom comes with a price
The tree of sympathy is vanishing before your eyes
The tree of sympathy was beautiful once; that was before the day
The tree of sympathy gave half of its beauty away
The tree of sympathy forgives you
The tree of sympathy will miss you more than you’ll ever know
The tree of sympathy feels better for letting you go


In Culver City, they would say that you were dead
A committee would convene to pick your casket from a catalog
The power structure comes to rear its ugly head
But the chorus in the kitchen will be cheering for the underdog
Stay wrong, stay wrong, stay wrong
Don’t be frightened by the premises we ponder on the premises
Roll on, roll on, roll on
Antiperspirant is integral to everything we’re fighting for tonight
So sell yourself a self-effacing alibi
It’s a practical alternative to living in the present tense
Consult the experts on assisted suicide
They will bludgeon you with circumstantial, anecdotal evidence
Sixteen, sixteen, sixteen
Now we strain to hear the echoes of the pre-Madonna radio
Stay mean, stay mean, stay mean
‘Cause if the girls decide to talk to us, then what will there be left to talk about?
Accept the profits and return the pity prize
You’ll be sorry when the nation gets a Christmas card from Avalon
The years will teach you not to carp or criticize
Lest you find yourself rewarded with a parcel from the pentagon
And you’ll remember from the battle of the bulge
How to preach the ways of history books and save yourself the sabotage
Forsake the glory war and practice to indulge
Just remember to repent before you wrap yourself in camouflage
Victoria, your name is in our hearts
Victoria, will you come home and save us?

We Are Seven

When the bells ring on Sunday, we go to the park
And we watch the week ending
And the bells keep on ringing until it gets dark
Hear the constables cursing
And the building we live in is tiny and old
Like a Volkswagen beetle
And the district attorney, he lives right next door
And he waves from the window
And we are but seven, and seven we are
And we each are named after a different car
And the man who delivers our mail has a scar
But he tells us he likes it
And the baby is Chrysler, and she’s only two
And she lives in a cradle
And we haven’t quite figured what mom and dad do
When they leave in the morning
And the buses are always a little bit late
But the shops open early
And the bells ring exactly at seven past eight
And again at eight-thirty
When the weathervane spins, we all lay in our beds
And the thunder sounds just like the bells in our heads
And the sunsets are yellow and purple and red
And we’re happy to see them