Tales from the Zen Cowboy

ABO1183 J100~PrntOption


This eclectic batch of original tunes were inspired by a mash up of styles including John Prine, Jackson Browne, Roger Miller and Bonnie Raitt.  These songs walk that tight rope between the sacred and the profane

I write songs, stories and tales about good love, bad love, no love at all, regrets, redemption, humor, hometowns, drinking, old memories, god, the devil, what was, what might have been and what is. Such is the perils of being human in an often less than human world. I hope you find a thread of yourself within this collage of words and music.

My job as a writer is complete if I can make you feel less alone and more comfortable in your own skin. We’re all weird, some of us just hide it better than others. My style of music will take you to places where being different is a badge of honor.


The CD or music download is available at Amazon.com, iTunes and cdbaby.com.  



Soundtrack, “Old and Wise” by the Alan Parsons Project.



I hate unsolicited advice. Most men know that it is not wise to give another man unsolicited advice. The most important thing to a man is respect and his pride. These things are earned and not idly parceled out like cans of beer—–although oftentimes such libations are swilled to make up for the lack of such noble qualities. On a rare occasion a man may give a fellow golfer advice about how to grip a club, how to adjust their swing or stance, but guys like that seldom get asked back for a future game. Guys have gotta figure shit out for themselves, it’s just he way it is.

Men like to give women advice. It makes them feel superior. It inflates their anemic ego’s. Most women will politely listen even though they know that men spend eighty percent of their time thinking about how to get pussy and what to eat next. The remaining twenty percent of their time is spent picking their nose at red lights or making fart jokes. Under the three piece suits, the impressive job titles and fancy cars, men are basic creatures bumbling their way through life. Women don’t give advice, they make sly suggestions. “Honey, maybe it would be better to use dental floss rather than a pocket knife to clean your teeth.” “Please don’t use gas to light the barbecue dear. Let me fry the burgers on the stove.” KABOOM!!!

But, in spite of my prior warnings regarding unsolicited advice, I have decided to dispense some brotherly advice. So please, “Forgive Me”.

Our time here is so short—–it doesn’t pay to deny ourselves and others forgiveness. Anger only cuts off circulation to the heart and puts a strangle hold on our ability to convey empathy. Forgive, because in the big scheme of things your petty grudges will emotionally bankrupt you. It’s like paying interest on a debt but never reaching the principle—-ya see, you can’t loan love or forgiveness, their value is only realized when given for free.

I wonder if we wear clothes out of shame, or is it a means to hide our insecurities. It’s tough to take another person seriously when they’re parading around bare ass naked. Nakedness is God’s way of showing us that in spite of Madison Avenue fashions and photoshopped vanities—–we’re all allot more alike than we are different.  Under skin and bone our fragil humanness flickers…..

Forgive——-because like a fart, the longer you hold it in, the more pressure it builds, hurting only you, and in time growing louder and smellier—- Forgive because sometimes you have to pull the bandaid off along with the scab in order for the wound to heal, Forgive because there is a child with a bald head dying in a hospital rather than playing on a jungle gym. Forgive because nothing seems that bad until it happens to you. Forgive because there but for fortune go you or I. Forgive because there is already enough darkness in this world—-enough sadness to superglue the softest of hearts eternally shut. Forgive because the shits already out of the pony. Forgive because with age the nights grow longer and peace more elusive. Forgive because winter need not be your favorite season. Forgive in spite of God and his promised heaven. Forgive because the shortest distance between point A and point B is love. Forgive because there’s a supernova a thousand times bigger than our puny sun imploding in on itself. Let go, let go, let go—–because as the old Zen proverb tells us “Let go or be dragged”.

Forgive, because one day you’ll realize that all the stuff you once thought so important were just things made up in your head. This clarity only comes after a major life event like getting fired, losing someone you love, going through a divorce, having a major health scare, facing your mortality or watching reruns of “Friends” (they all look so young). You’ll flop around like a trout out of water, realizing you’ve mistaken the barbed hook for the golden ring.

It all seems so absurd——all the girls you tried to impress with false bravado, the fake laughs given for free to please your dim witted boss, the loud arguments availing only hurt feelings——its all comes back to you like a strange dream, like staring up at the shimmering surface of the water while holding your breath at the bottom of the sea. Down there, there’s only shipwrecks, rusty anchors, the eight armed Kraken and the tiny fart bubbles you release as pieces of your forgiveness. Farting is God’s way of telling you to not take yourself to seriously.

We stubbornly withhold our forgiveness, we’d rather offer up snide remarks and sarcastic smiles. We expect others to rain apologies down upon us, but the sad truth is, some people don’t know how to be sorry. They only learn forgiveness by being forgiven—-and the bible along with all the other holy books speak of this irony. The currency of unspoken forgivenesses pays out in wasted time, it lengthens the bridge we’ve all come here to cross.

Get over your self——–Forgive

Why Old Dogs Learn New Tricks



Soundtrack by Paul McCrane from the movie Fame.

In my humblest attempts to write something that sounds Twain-ish, I came up with the following.

“If you wanna know a man, meet his dog first.”  You can unpack that quote several ways, but I’ll leave it up to you to deconstruct as you see fit.


For Chasey——-my Pal….

I don’t walk my dog, he walks with me. We go to fun places together, not stores, restaurants and malls, I think that’s stupid and weird.  That’s as absurd as taking a cat to church.  Cats don’t believe in god, they think they are god.

We prefer walks around our neighborhood or hikes in the woods.  Being a Lab, he loves his swims down by the lake.  He tips the scale at over a hundred pounds.  That’s twenty pounds of sweetness, thirty pounds of slobber and fur and fifty pound of love.  He shakes his wet coat all over me, drools water across my freshly shined hardwood floors and steps on my bare feet with his heavy sharp paws—–Ouch!!!—–If he wasn’t so damn cute he’d get a lot more scoldings.

There’s a quiet calm about him.  He’s at peace with himself and the world, minus the mailman, garbageman and the neighbor’s cat.  The cat sits smugly behind her window as Chase is pulled back to his yard by his collar. I’ve never been at peace with myself, the world, or anybody or anything. I’m more the restless type who’s easily tangled up in my own expectations.  I anxiously cling to desired outcomes that are out of my control. He stares up at me with his eyes that seem to say “Don’t worry bro, it’s all good man, everything is as it should be”.  Chase is Zen; he’s simple, honest, loyal, kind and empathetic——-he expects nothing. He lives in the moment, joyfully running in circles, never mired in selfish conclustions. He doesn’t even care when he misplaces his favorite tennis ball.  He naps when he’s tired, eats when he’s hungry and walks around with a big contented Zen smile on his doggie face.  In his serene mind he wags his tail in time to “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley.

He doesn’t much care for fighting, but if provoked he can be vicious——-he has a highly developed “bullshit detector”. Lying and cheating must give off a subtle scent, because his keen sense of smell can detect those qualities from miles away. His intense listening skills alert him when someones words don’t match their voice inflection. He’ll piss on the lawns of those who are deserving of his mark….

People fall out of love.  They change, they lose touch, they move on,  They’ll selfishly take more than they give, until one day they wake up and  find themselves friendless and loveless. Little by little they wear out others with their chafing annoyances. I think you know what I mean, like the petty cruelty of repeatedly leaving the cap off the proverbial tube of toothpaste. It becomes a process of slowly wringing out their partners patience like a stiff old dish rag until they’ve squeezed out every last drop of civility. All that remains is bitterness and lawyer fee’s.

Dogs don’t know how to keep score. They only have two emotions, love and forgiveness. Unlike humans, dogs make great listeners.  Most folks don’t listen, they just yammer on with all the eloquence and articulation of a squawking Stellar Jay…….Chase cocks his head sideways, props up his floppy ears and offers up a sigh of acknowledgment.

There’s a fine line between love and hate. Most people don’t know when they’ve crossed that line until it’s to late.  They refuse to learn or change, they prefer casting blame rather than trying to become a better person. It’s hard to teach old humans new tricks.  They always want to know, “What’s in it for me?”

Old dogs don’t learn new tricks just for a treat, they learn new tricks to please you. Some folks will say “I love you” every chance they get, but they never take the time to show it through their actions.

My dog is ten years old. They say a dog ages seven dog years for every human year. My dog at ten knows more about life and love than I ever will—–and I’m middle aged—– I’m being conservative in regards to defining my age.

Chase and I are growing old together.  He’s slowed down a bit, but he still has the heart of a pup.  He barks a jet airplanes, gets excited when I put on my shoes for a walk and would follow me to hell and back agin.  I  wish my dog would never grow old, because when he’s gone I’ll be lonely here without him……..

What You Deserve



This tune was written in homage to John Prine, my favorite folk artist.  He could write a lyric that straddles that fine line between silly and sad.  He can take the ordinary and make it seem extraordinary.


Drip, Drip, Drip

I danced with the devil
I stepped on his tail
Got drunk in a tavern
Found Jesus in jail

Drank enough beer
To piss me an ocean
It’s hard to get lost
When ya don’t care where you’re going

I bummed me a smoke
fired up a light
Now I’m stuck in this tree
Like a tattered old kite

Chased a few rainbows
Searching for a pot of gold
When I was young
Never thought I’d grow old

Times a wad of gum
stuck on your shoe
you can try and out run it
but it’ll catch up with you

Fates a leaky faucet
That drip, drip, drips
What you deserves
Is usually what you get

One night stands
Well, I had me a few
When it comes to loving
Bit off more than I could chew.

Made some mistakes
Yeah, I paid my dues
Smashed my TV
Tired of, the same ole bad news

You might say I’m crazy
Nutty as a fruit cake
If the fish ain’t bitting
It’s time to change your bait.

Chased a few rainbows
Searching for a pot of gold
When I was young
Never thought I’d grow old

Fates a wad of gum
stuck on your shoe
you can try to out run it
but it’ll catch up with you

Time’s a leaky faucet
That goes drip, drip, drips
The good times I’ll remember
The bad ones I’ll forget


Soundtrack “Wish You Were Here” Pink Floyd.

“Hey man, are you okay?” His voice draws me back to the surface where imagination and reality collide. “No man, I’m not okay, not at all.” He’s dressed in a blue sales associates vest with a name tag bearing the name Cameron. I think to myself, what a distinguished name for a punk kid with unkempt hair, nose piercing and tattoo sleeved arms. It’s Saturday evening and the huge box store is still a thrashed mess from the ravages of yesterdays “Black Friday Sale”. The wall of big screen televisions with their pristine HD pictures compete for my attention. I feel myself slipping back into their hypnotic grasp. “Hey man, do you need something?” I turn to him and speak “To love life, to love others, is how we show our love to god.” Cameron stares at me as if I’m speaking a foreign language: and I suppose I am. He laughs “Brah, your watch must be set to 420. Are ya sure everything’s cool by ya?  Ya need me to call someone?” “No, I’m just changing buses at your station.

“Sometimes at moments like this, I think in poetry and talk in prose. Everything hits me all at once, and things become clearer and more confusing all at the same time.” He takes a couple of steps backwards, “Tell ya what mister, let me go change the channel on those TVs. They’ve got ya all messed up.” He disappears into the maze of florissant lite isles while speaking into his radio piece.  I can hear him whispering the word “security”. I turn back towards the halo like glare of the T.V.s and lose myself in haiku thoughts.

Standing there at Walmart, in the electronic’s section, I feel myself being absorbed into the wall of flat screen TV’s. The sheer spectacle of all the pictures repetitively tuned to the nightly news is mind sucking. The female newscaster’s voice has the rehearsed sex-appeal and charm of a beauty queen. There’s not a hair out of place, her blouse is low cut, you might even say a bit provocative.  Her eyes conceal any sign of distress or outrage as she glibly reports the days menagerie of mayhem and tragety.  There are film clips of dead bodies in the streets. Another mass shooting at a school, a church, a mall. There’s a drive by shooting that’s killed an innocent three year old caught in the crossfire, a suicide bomber has murders 26 people in a marketplace, a minor traffic altercation leads to a road rage incident, a cop shoots an unarmed kid, there’s another hate crime— someone shoots somebody because they’re a different color, religion or sexual orientation, terrorist chop the head off of someone who worships a different god, disease and famine take the lives of thousands in a third world country, the bell rings ushering in another profitable day on Wall Street, gun control is defeated in the house of representatives——My bus pulls in and I climb aboard.

There’s no map, no compass, no destination, just me thinking in circles—-a meditation of sorts. My mental landscape begins to change.  I’m listening to voices as the birds eat my bread crumbs——there’s no backtracking, no going back.  I hear the bus’s air breaks release and I’m on my way.  God only knows where my thoughts are leading me—-

We tuck our guns away in our bedside drawers with a bottle of Viagra, cocked and loaded, god lays sleeping under the pillow, we shoot blank prayers into oblivion, bowing our heads to phones and tablets with the reverence once afforded holy books—-QVC is now the temple of worship, all our sins exposed on Facebook, true love is calculated with algorithms designed by a technician at E-harmony, although the earth is dying we remain distracted by soap operas, porn and gameshows, we drive SUV’s with bumper stickers damning climate change, politicians and lobbyist share sly winks, credit cards and umbrella drinks—–I find no rest, I can hardly breathe. Infomercials and pharmaceutical ads blanket the space between the nightly news stories.  Disasters, wars and mass shootings are reported alongside weather forecasts.   There’s an acceptance and tolerance to it all, as if we have no control over any of these events.  

So much hate, so much unbridled violence. I wish guns shot Hershey kisses, and religions taught grace (loving others, even when they don’t deserve it) I wish they’d turn all the mega churches into waterslide parks, and that all soldiers were ordered to wear lederhosen (its hard to kill a man wearing shorts with suspenders) and political speeches were judged by how well they expressed humor and espoused love, and that the Pope would turn the Vatican into a homeless shelter, and he’d trade his big pope hat for a chef’s hat as he cooked free spaghetti suppers for the hungry, and Joel Osteen installed dancing poles for his audience, and at the end of each sermon he’d make it rain dollars from the ceiling (now that’s prosperity preaching), teachers would be paid like pro athletes and pro athletes were paid like teachers,  and Muslims stopped falling to their knees five times a day to pray, but instead opened their arms to hug five strangers a day, and the leaders of countries resolved disputes by mud wrestling one another, and cannons shot confetti and AK 47’s sprayed gumdrops——and of course, our national bird would be a unicorn, our flag emblem a rainbow and “Imagine”would be our national anthem——

Is this the season of celestial checks and balances—of universal reciprocity? Has the Law of Attraction delivered what we’ve choose to manifested? Are we reaping what we’ve sowed. All the money wasted on wars could have sent tens of thousands of kids to college for free, could have created education and training programs for the poor and those incarcerated. We could have built hundreds of hospitals, built community centers, senior centers, child care centers. We could have fed the starving and provided free medical care to the sick.  I feel the door to my bus opening at a strange destination.

A security guard approaches me with his “I’m a badass” swagger. I noticed that the leather holster holding his pepper spray is unsnapped and his hand is resting on his belt next to the canister.

“Boy, ya been drinkin, maybe takin some medications?” His fingers idly strumming on his service belt. As he moves from foot to foot there is the sound of leather stretching and squeaking. “No, I haven’t been drinking, but I could use a pull off something strong right about now.”

“I hear ya all been makin some crazy talk, bout god and love and what not. Sounds like ya feelin a tad bit out of sorts. Now, they’ve got folks down at the County booby hatch that’ll give ya a lil sompin to calm ya all down.” I couldn’t tell if this was his attempt at being empathetic or if he’s trying to intimidate me. “Ya got some I.D. boy? And what ya all got in that there nap sack?”

I turn to make my exit but realize there’s a second security guard who’s snuck up behind me and is now blocking my way out. “Son, let’s go on back to my office so we can figure out what’s going on here. We gonna see that ya get proper help and such.”

The security guard leans back in his office chair as he speaks into the phone. He talks about me as if I were a child or as if I wasn’t even there. He keeps using the term “5150”. “I think he might be a good candidate for a 5150. Oh yeah, he could be of danger to himself and others, definably 5150.”

A sheriff shows up and he drives me down to the County facility. I’m ushered into a room where I’m introduced to a guy who identify’s himself as a psychologist. He asks me questions and prods me about my thoughts and beliefs. He wants me to explained my earlier comments regarding loving life, loving others and how this is a way to show god ones love. I tell him that I ‘m a storyteller and that I’m a voice for sad people. He looks up from he notes he’s been taking and asks “Why do you want to be a voice for sad people?”, I said “Well sir, cause the happy people don’t need a voice.”

He says that it would be best for me to remain at the faculty for a couple of days so that we can get to know each other better. I reply “It takes a long time to get to know someone, and even longer to say that you understand them—–And, cause everybody is always changing, we must be vigilant in our quest to earn someones trust and understanding. Some people think that if they get naked with someone, that they know them. Or, that if they make love to someone, it means they understand them. Some folks believe that because they live with someone or get married, that this means they belong to one another.  But that’s not the case.  Love isn’t belonging, love is letting go.

If ya want to know someone, ask them what breaks their heart, what makes them laugh, what was their childhood like, who they admire, what songs, books and movies touched them. Watch how they treat animals, strangers and children. These little things matter. You can’t say ya read a book until you’ve been through every chapter, every page, paragraph, every sentence and word. Like I said, it takes time, patience and communication to understand someone.——— People don’t read books anymore, they speak in acronyms, send out tweets, write 26 character text’s, they post selfies and collect friends on Facebook.

Ya see, I want to feel another’s thoughts, I want to think another’s feelings—-I know that doesn’t make much sense to most, maybe it’s even a bit crazy. I don’t know, but I”m reaching out to you, to life, to god—–with all my might.  I reach out to hug the therapist and he freezes up.  His eyes reveal a sense of fear or panic as he gently pushes me away. “That’ll be enough for today.”  He presses a button under hidden under his desk and a large orderly dressed in white appears.  He looks more like a bodyguard rather than a nurse.

The orderly leads me to my room and gives some Ambien to swallow. He leaves, I spit it out. I lay awake for a long time. I wonder when my next bus will arrive……..