Counter Intelligence

by Carl Hauck

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1.
The furniture observing Nocturnal creatures lurking As a gentle sir battles worn Temptations Whispers from her daddy Echo in the attic As a needed cue to maintain A distance The seasons come and go But they never change The adjustments much too frequent Recent memories a beacon But the grade is fairly dicey And we’re sliding Brain to limbs, brain to limbs The busy signal rings As the target sighs And contritely ceases fighting Don’t stay here, darling You can’t stay here The doorway’s looking lonely And the pathway cold and stony So they peel the bandage slowly It can’t hurt to bleed again Skin to skin, skin to skin This indifference is a sin But the characters and colors Failed to entertain Don’t stay here, darling You can’t stay here Are we really here again Where every detail rings a bell Are we really here again Where the word “cliché” describes itself Uh oh
2.
You gouge the right eye of your infants And seat them high on a cloud To gaze at one hand of your savior Is their ignorance what you’re so proud of? You condemn the rind of an apple As obstructing your conscience so white You curse every rib of that first wicked soul But pity yourself for your providential plight I want fruit in my garden A tart behind my wife I want hell below heaven I want death with my life Isn’t the option beautiful? You admire your children’s sheltered virtue But they haven’t yet raced through the dust and the heat Don’t mistake innocence for purity I say put them on trial, cast them out on the street Let’s watch their superior reason Compete with new appetite I’ll gamble my chips that they’ll side with the devil Oh, what a fascinating sight I want fruit in my garden A tart behind my wife I want hell below heaven I want death with my life Isn’t the option beautiful? Carnal tongues flashing in a whirlwind of passion A perpetual complacency Coveting chattel in spite of the means A commune in landscape so green Thick, juicy venison, straight to the ventricles A mind and a body so clean Jealousy driving to injure or kill A temper eternally serene I want fruit in my garden A tart behind my wife I want hell below heaven I want death with my life Isn’t the option beautiful?
3.
I paid to look at silverware with strangers One forced a dance as I stood still She opened up, releasing shrill Appreciation for carnality We rode to Alcatraz, eating airborne cake The driver said there’s no escape The only choice to accept the rape Awaiting under navy blue covers Was it a venture for mutual healing or a quest for bragging rights, A convenient copulation to put the icing on the night? A salesman brought us buccaneers and strippers As perception fought the drink He told me everything to think Coercing my eyes and mind to wander In a daze I headed for the coat rack To leave that brothel behind But a tug at my arm, a curious sigh Was determined to follow Was it a venture for mutual healing or a quest for bragging rights, A convenient copulation to put the icing on the night? By request I arranged for her utensil In strictly unspoken agreement In movements so vehement We forgot who each other used to be In the morning, it was simply all a dream There was no translator needed The past just memories created Oh, the euphemist in me
4.
Zhuangwho 03:13
A child wrapped in wonder, staring wide-eyed at the sky Guided by a weathered man quoting billboard lies Skylarks soar among silver sheets with glowing seams Over fragments of corruption held aloft by rusted beams A vendor selling seeds to men to plant for future Eden While his stock boys in the cellar stir cement Is this balance perpetual, and progress just conceptual? Will hunger always call a hand to feed it? Though scoreboards speak of dynasty And cracked pillars whisper ruin There’s a boardwalk between air and sea That sings a different tune Give it all the time you want An era or an instant, but for each Shot of hyperbole There’s a pond somewhere to chase it Pouring through magazines, examining the shells Forcing study of anatomy, new philosophies of hell A solid tone blends with many songs of utter dread Butch and Sundance leave the building, twenty-seven dead Oh, the joy of riding trains and taking aim at roaming horses The rationale arcane, unexplained by any source Is it boredom with contentment or implicit self-defense, Or frustration with the imagery no longer making sense? Though scoreboards speak of dynasty And cracked pillars whisper ruin There’s a boardwalk between air and sea That sings a different tune Give it all the time you want An era or an instant, but for each Shot of hyperbole There’s a pond somewhere to chase it As ventricles and vessels clog with nuts and bolts galore Extra condiments and toppings aren’t the problems anymore Who needs tears or feelings with assurance of stability? Veins for shielded cables, brains for spreadsheet tables Only in this place could one score locker room blow Abstain from lucid inquiry when it would surely hurt to know An absence of dignity and surprising lack of shame Unannounced, Unprovoked, not easy to refrain from Though scoreboards speak of dynasty And cracked pillars whisper ruin There’s a boardwalk between air and sea That sings a different tune Give it all the time you want An era or an instant, but for each Shot of hyperbole There’s a pond somewhere to chase it
5.
Fragility 01:18
Persistence, a murderer when reason drops its guard The flesh of time left ravaged, the hands and fingers marred Oh, to love a strange face, in its passing brevity It’s a forced resignation to a voyeur’s tendencies For fear of all the world’s empty adjectives It’s our name, it’s our name, that we’re harboring Candor’s youthful sentiments remain in thoughts unspoken The fragile is only noticed when it’s broken
6.
Detail Man 02:45
A photo op, a timely speech Set upon the carved debris Of the metal graveyard’s scenery A wholesale slaughter’s guaranteed A warning that the enemy Ain’t your average ass jockey He wears polo shirts and denim jeans And an explosive heart up his sleeve Lock him up, lock him in Scan the landscape for his kin Give that worn-out title New meaning The sultry scent of evergreen Diffusing from the gasoline With a stifled conscience, life is sweet The outside world is your latrine The only soldier drafted Is the prisoner upstairs And we’re no longer asking We’re dictating our prayers The sole thing that we’re certain of is that He’s on our side But we’ve never thought of His side, we never took the time So we’ll ask that old library clerk To find a chapter and a verse Corresponding with our work And on our bombs we’ll paint the words To whom this may concern Keep turning that cheek This earth is for the strong And death is for the meek
7.
The Rebel 10:03
Bloodshed is glorious – a draftee’s delusion Fostered by Hollywood and faith in the union He packed up his scrapbook, said farewell to his mother Now he had not a home, just a new band of brothers Sam was his new Lord, whose mercy was phony A carbine his lover, the trigger her quoniam Blue waters shrank beneath as Wagner resounded Yet he was only a pawn, in servitude grounded Dear young Rebel, bow to your uncle Raise up the flag, support it from underneath Don’t worry, Rebel, they’ll bring you back home soon Parades and medals for your platoon What are we doing here? He started wondering With the natives never tiring, the weapons always firing From somewhere in the distant brush; the Rebel swore he’d had enough If only he knew what was coming Deep in the jungle his company was creeping They saw up ahead a yellow boy weeping A soldier moved in, and the little boy ran It was too late by then; they saw the black on his hands On top of a land mine the soldier was broiled By gunpowder made on American soil From the charred melted flesh came a series of cries Like “Have mercy, Lord!” and “Sweet Jesus Christ!” Oh, dear Rebel, war sure ain’t pretty But you must remember the investments of Washington D.C. Those who die are heroes, but those who run are rotten Hang in there, Rebel, and you’ll never be forgotten That same night, the orders came through From a faceless man over the radio: “There’s a little town about a mile west Take supplies, burn the buildings down, and you know the rest” Well, the Rebel knew it wasn’t his choice A gear in a machine doesn’t get a voice The soldiers conserved their ammunition And slit every yellow throat in sight—a successful mission It’s a funny thing, killing those you’ve never met So the Rebel laughed aloud as his insides wept, screaming, “All you yellow bastards, I hope you’ve seen what we can do When you fuck with freedom—there’ll be red, black, and blue” Oh, dear Rebel, I’m afraid you’re going mad When killing gets personal, you know it’s getting bad You see, war's a business and your country needs control Of your mind, of your body, of your heart, and your soul Don’t you get nostalgic for your welcome mat’s allure 'Cuz home ain’t coming soon, you got another tour More rounds exchanged, wounds exchanged, and deaths exchanged The birds exchanged glances, and declared men insane Morale was getting low on the good guys’ side The Rebel fighting merely to save his own life Well, the reaper was so busy collecting all the souls, That he overlooked dear Rebel, but war still took its toll You could see the skull behind his eyes, and his words were but a few When the men in suits shook his hand and said “I’m proud of you” A nation polarized, each side holding its own Some blindly waving flags, some blindly throwing stones The Rebel watched and wondered if there’d ever be a point In crying out for peace as long as man was minting coins Oh, dear Rebel, men will be men The important thing right now is to get back to your friends And your aging mother too, I’m certain she misses you Try to smile wide for her, don’t you let her see inside The Rebel didn’t smile when the landlord gave the news His mother was evicted when she couldn’t pay the dues So he interviewed the neighbors, their answers only varied Yet he found what he was looking for in a brief obituary “A widow, fifty-two, died from cancer of the lung Fighting bravely overseas is her single loving son” And he’s been feeling sorry ever since Can only place the blame on the Charlies and the Dinks Those people passing by on winter afternoons They curse him for his laziness, and drop a dime or two Once he earns eleven-fifty, he can buy a fifth of whiskey A temporary blanket from the ever-icy stares He isn’t proud of killing men, but content with killing time He doesn’t need your pity, only money for cheap wine Dear old Rebel, keep telling your tale Passing sighs and pickup lines, slurred words that seem to sail It don’t matter where your eyes are, glazed and robbed of rest, When your mind’s drifting to a dusty heaven in the warmth of the Southwest
8.
Selfish Duet 04:02
Left a chalk self-portrait on her mattress Then cleansed my skin in the rain The streetlamps and lobbies just listen Must be the moonlight that beckons again and again Calendar countdowns and train station shifts White sheets lay under the true candidate Confession in murmurs and indisposed sighs Truth’s in the once-blue, now graying eyes Bindings and bookmarks soiled in the prints Of covetous fingers dipped in black ink The authors are harlots citing their shame As the reason for tossing their works in the flames A guardian’s ghost framed in the pane Under rustling of satin, intervention in vain With the pretext of speakers and lavender lights A selfish duet crescendos in time Early April showers and mahogany hair curls Draw crimson from under the skin The band-aids and bracelets just masking The sole thing that ever touched her within In the darkest of backyards, on sanitized grass The nurse lays aside her own ailing past Reception in silence, culmination in gags With awkward young smiles, this walk is our last
9.
Schmaltz 05:35
They deployed the cameras, and the world turned kind It’s easy to be a saint when you got them judging all the time They wore their masks for hiding, we wore our own for showing And at 12:01 on New Year’s morning, by God, it started snowing Remember when we weren’t thinking, honey, Of consequences, of hidden fences, but everything but? They hid the truth until the truth turned pretty, then told it every chance they got Like playing cards at a filthy bar where the frescos tell of Camelot They studied dictionaries while we read obituaries Severed tales of ups and downs, neighbors we never cared about Remember when we were jaded, honey? We moved like distant globes, and we always came around They found one facedown in the gutter with whiskey in his veins He slept for days and days and days until they tucked him in to stay With discount ink on ragged paper, creased up at the fold We wrote a letter with bloody prints, he was more than 54 years old Remember when we were outraged, honey? We’d pull the car into a parking lot and sort things out A flutter in the eye of the stranger in the casket As the sound of youth jingled around the room It mocked our civil decency, and sent us back home thinking About forgetting all our deadlines, at least for a day or two But we returned to yelling mindless insults sealed by rubber grips And we plotted the death of the man across the hall We dulled our senses and forced pretension, cursing petty things But sharpened words spoken out of turn did nothing to the government Remember when we were drifting, honey, Away from walks and dismal talks about who was better off? Remember when we were happy, honey? Neither do I
10.
[redacted] (free) 00:25
11.
Let’s not watch the sky, let’s watch the smokestacks So God will ask us how to earn our wonder back Well if He can breathe up there, in that ungodly air, I’d be amazed We’ll ax the trees, but polish all the flagpoles Glory is found in skin and bones, not the soul So my faith is in some government that I don’t really follow But it fights my wars and prays my prayers, what else should I care about? We’ll travel to the gallows with our parents To marvel at all the lovely ornaments Some are fated to hang, but fortunate I stand Asking “Why destroy creation?” Because we can And though He don’t deserve it, it may be worth it We’ll turn the tables and kill the Lord in man’s name Well I’m sure He’d crucify Himself for peace to be eternal A compromise for incompetence, Lord, what a shame Now that I’m done sinning, I’ll go back to my place Forget these words, forget this face Time again to merge with the apathetic chant I applaud you, Luther, but I for one recant

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released February 24, 2008

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Carl Hauck Chicago, Illinois

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