Greg MacPherson

Two Haircuts In One

Are you trying not to sleep?
In the back seat with a bottle
Went too heavy on the throttle
Stuck in a ditch
Some son of a bitch, tall, slow pitch
How many fingers waved in front of your face?
Don’t pass yourself off as a charity case.
What was the name on the accident claim?
Are you trying not to sleep?
Radio on, top of the ladder at the beauty salon
Thinking his name when the colour goes on Try not to sleep
No one could keep up with what you had planned
Shoveling snow and a mid-winter tan
20 minutes on the interstate
Figure 8 trying to stay awake

You try not to sleep
With the laminated heads
Your portfolio spread
Should’ve left it at home?
All by yourself but you’re never alone
Where’s all your money from the house calls?
The head of the firm with a 10-dollar perm and dumber than a brick wall.
You should’ve stayed and got fed when you woke up in his bed.
Or made a couple phone calls.
You’re in it for the long haul

They’re rigging up chains,
Sparks off the railing
And the Western White Pine
You’re dreaming of a kiss
Try not to miss
With your 20 dollar wine
Your hundred-dollar fine
The solid yellow lines
Leave some in the back
Keep the top flat
Take some off the sides


I came back from a year in Kingston,
Holding on and pushing away
Saying, “Everything here looks so small now.”
And, “Didn’t anybody ever change?”
They’ll teach away all of your graces
Tell you that the odds are stacked
I came home from a year of guilt and fear
And figured I’d be going back

I came home from a year in Kingston
I had malevolence on my mind
The car door hadn’t even closed
When I cut the old man down to size
I tried to find a job but I couldn’t find a job
I tried to put it all in the past
Better safe than sorry, I was young … you know the story
Pretty soon it all just crashed

When they call the cops up on easy street
They shut the whole city down
To beat their chests and make arrests
In this two bit, one horse town
I wonder when my luck ran out on me?
I know I wasn’t born bad
I’ve been beat down
I never had a chance
And I made the most of what I had

Put your finger anywhere on the atlas
Somebody’s there living hard
From the uranium mine to the soup kitchen line
Or right here in our own back yard
There’s whole towns made of stainless-steel
And people that are made of gold
Some of us are living just to stay alive
And some of us never get old
Come on everybody we can all get some

Cutting Room

I’m a bit part actor
A face in the crowd
A walk around backwards
Eyes on the ground
I’m so ordinary
I’m so unoriginal

Spin around backwards
Same storyline
Hands against the glass
Too old to be young
I’m so relentless
I’m sold to the sidewalk

Sold inside
A cutting room edit slide

I’ve come a long way
Embittered and cold
Playing to the traffic
It’s a plum role
So ordinary
So unoriginal

Sold inside
A cutting room edit slide

The Show Is In the Basement

Instead of pulling over she looked up at the sky
For 47 minutes she taught them how to drive
She sped into the ocean and swam a half a mile
No reason she could think of but something deep inside
You want to see I’ll show you
I’ll show you a good time
I’ll take you where the music is so loud
You’ll feel it in your shoulders
Your voice will fade away
You’re staking out the exits here but everything’s okay

The voice of god says, “Die.”
The head under the water asks, “Why?”

And I stood there and watched it all
Started to give in
Tremors in my hands
I said it in my mind
I spoke the words out loud
My legs began to shake
Now I run against the crowd

We talk a mile a minute
Desperate just to talk
I take you out for dinner
We’re speechless while we walk
We listen to the radio and no one sleeps alone
We’re crawling on our stomachs
A military zone

Out in the sun we sail from the coast
Knowing that we’re sinking we sail on.


I cut my arm open
It was all red and blue and golden streamers like a Chinese parade
An eight-legged dragon reared up
And bells shook

Mrs. Ming caught me looking at her legs
Mrs. Ming caught me looking at her hands
She caught me looking at her face
And bells shook

You were there too
You were small at the back of a pool hall
The sound of the guns like steel drums
The sound of fireworks

You were there too
Stripped to the waist with blood on your face
Kicking like a bull

The sound of the guns like steel drums
The sound of fireworks

Southern Lights

They woke up on a northern river delta
On the border between east and west
Terry took one last half-assed look around him
Pulled the weight of their misfortunes off his chest
He said, “Marie, don’t you be coming after me
I’m a long way off from where I’ll be
I won’t be coming back here again
Until the southern city lights light up for me.”

She had a face beaten down by all the sounds
And a voice barely loud enough to scream
He kept a picture of the woman
that he loved in his back pocket
Torn out from some skin flick magazine
There’s no way it could go any other way
He was born to end up losing in the end
She said, “You’ll be coming back here again…”
But in her head somewhere she knew that she was free

Terry looked down at the lakes and frozen rivers
Rolled a another cigarette between his knees
He said, “It seems to me this world’s got a lot more than I been taking
And from now on I’ll be laughing in my sleep.”
Marie don’t you be coming after me
I’m a long way off from where I’ll be.
I won’t be coming back here again
Until the southern city lights light up for me.

So fast by
Should’ve stayed sleeping

Hotel Motel

We walked out of the nightclub,
two deer right on the street
I moved like the black man I’d seen
on the big screen
Collar stiff,
I moved slow like the black man

Through the park
We were strangers to the kids
who think they live in New York
In a downtown park
A danger to ourselves
stumbling around in the dark

I’m in a college town
Polyester brown
‘Stone Killer’ wide tie
It’s all in the hips and the short stride

Back at the terra cotta hotel motel
A fistfight by the pool
I’ve got my shirt off in the window
She’s got hers off too

My wife’s on the phone,
I call her when the trouble breaks
Television’s on,
watching news about the murder rate
Looking through the blinds at the teen-
aged girls and wondering…
Telling everybody I know that
I’m not coming home

I’m in a college town
Polyester brown
‘Stone Killer’ wide tie
It’s all in the hips and the short stride

Blind Date

Sorry about my hands … I’m loaded
I’ll slow down.
We both know that you’re not playing the same game

I sat through 3 hours watching you
I held my waist tight most of the night
Smiled and suffered through:
Stories about your job
Pictures of your friends
And you


I’m California bound
I can hardly wait to lay my beach towel out
The sky is closing in
I can feel the future on my skin
Glistening like a horse
shining like a city of quartz

Running out of phase
The desert and the microwaves
A siren and a whore
in the echo of the last good war
On the air tonight
On the air tonight

Your voice is nothing against the noise of the engine grinding out that summer line
Coast in slow over Reno, the Diablos
I can almost see the waves break on the dial

When the last flight touches down
When the immigrants have kissed the ground
When your legs are tucked away
and the colourful has turned to beige
Stand glistening like a horse
Shining like a city of quartz

Man Overboard

I wear my summer clothes at night
A man looks capable when he’s dressed in white
Stroll on the leeward side
Never dress in white on a rising tide
She tipped me more than I was worth
Don’t mistake the intimation of a discount berth
Tell the captain he’s a lucky man
I’ll notify my people on shore of the change of plans

Loose lips
Her reflection off the waves
Her reflection off the waves
Like oil in the rain

A young man’s life is living on the ocean
Trolling for trophy fish and divorcees
Watching the world’s problems like a spot on the horizon
Wearing white pants and rolling up his t-shirt sleeves
The water’s an expensive friend
By your side from the start but more than a likely end
I calculate every risk
No rate of return on a chance that’s missed

Loose lips
Her reflection off the waves
Her reflection off the waves
Like oil in the rain

Seafarer sitting in a deck chair, strident through the night flares, flirting with a small town mayor
Top coat, waiting for the lifeboat, looking for my passport, tell them there’s a man overboard

The Sun Beats Down

We were so in the dark
Head in the sand
Safe from it all in your capable hands
But the sun beats down on us now

You looked for the good
And found only wrong
Put all your faith in the words of a song
But the sun beats down on us now

We cover ourselves in the clothes of the weak
Too warm to care and too cold to speak
But the sun beats down on us now

← Back