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FROM THE ARCHIVE | Richard Maxwell

The Theater Years

April 3, 2020


We don't become older
Only more aware
Older means stronger
In any case
You decide when to care 

Allow things to be
There is no more time
Arise free with hope 
Time no more
There is no more time!

Then No More Division
Between life and death
You go where you will!
This we ode
To the kneeling man



(SONG Can You See)


Hey you

I’m sitting here 

By your tree 

I’m tuned in

And wonderin’ 

Do you see me


It’s quiet now 

I feel you now 

I miss you now 

Can you see?


Your words

Come back to me 

Like a dream 

Like leaves

Pressed in to your books


Through the years 

We walk your land 

In bare feet

We cross your green



Come to the key of evening
With dusk deepening
Come up, come leavening
Past the parapet
(The key to everything)
Here between the earth and sky
A void exists
A crack up high
Unknown to anyone
The place where lost lies lie

Come up here! Into this void
In the sky
With blue and blackness rolling by

The men sing:

Say it over and over
You never will know her
Here's the reason why:
Look, it was not you
It was her father
This son who had a daughter
She would not tell you why
She kept this lie inside

She held out the balance
By the way of work
Unaware and lost
And inside the sea
Of anonymity
All the creatures do
Circle and twist
With small dignity

The waiting woman sings:

Here see the untaken road
A trail deemed cold
Those you thought bold
Those you can't fold Like
Silver and gold
O, the lies untold!


See earth reared,
See hea'en coiled
Come up here!
See the effort and the spoils

Come to the key of evening
With dusk deepening
Come up, come leavening
Past the parapet


(The key to everything)



Song "9":
hey how do such oases exist?
between clear water and sweet grass
she says, don't get attached, don't stop here
she knows we're not framed by anything


except maybe camp cabin windows
or maybe quiet nyc light
we come together now and that counts
they said i'd come to see with your eyes


and no problem, just endlessness-ing



I am yours (2x)
The sun the sky the blue the bright the white, the flashing bright light
The sun 
Just pummels ye
The sun, the sun
At seven miles

And flashing bright against the sky, pushing back against the sky 
Is sea
Push against me, 
The sea
I am sea and I'm sun
At twenty miles

(I am yours and 
You are mine
We are the same 
There's no divide
Lose all sense of
What's yours and mine) 

And still it is the same
Fat heavy waves
And horizon line 
The eyes arrive
Inside my eyes
Like night and day
It's all the same 
Five hundred miles

(With just my eyes
it’s all the same! 
The same thing
We are rolling waves 
I'm naked and with weather now
Day is night and then is now)

The lines entwine
There’s no divide
I'm motion no man inside


We are 
Black blue and green 
And in-between 
We're nowhere to be seen
It's all the same
Twelve hundred miles!! 




IN defense of naïveté
When they ask you 
What did you do 
Say 'I felt it , man'
When they ask you,
One who has done
Acts of fiction,
“How do you sleep?”
Tell them, ‘I can’t’


No more old set
No more whites
Flitting back and forth
No more events that change them
All concern actually benefits them
Like survival in the kingdom


You have no control.

People can take it away
The cosmos can take it away

 The Plan takes your magic away




I said, What’s your name?
“Rrrrrossnagl,”  he said.

What? I said.
“You know, ‘horse-nail’.” 
Oh, I said!

What do you do?
Siemens, he said. 
Oh, I said!
I said,
That’s cool.

Do you know Joachim?
No, he said.
Oh, I said.

But, he said, I do know Joachim.
That’s cool!
 (I know him from) B.A.

(harmonica solo)

And we heard the bells calling us to go back inside.


Outside, grew dark, dark and cold, as dark and cold as inside
The hall is huge 
    above the lake
      water inside 
         doesn’t hold quite 
            the weight of the 
                 lake lucerne at night.



o let us go 
into the night
we can pick up where
the sun went down
and move along the bias
we are spirit beings
on a physical journey
do not be afraid
yes we have family 
and the reason we love 
these were our mothers’ words
put your hands out into the dark


Air quiet all around us. The tilt of the zodiac and four bright stars have emerged. Same coordinates, different map. Stand on the earth, here, on this spot at night and look up at the sky. The stars so thick, brings to mind Shelley’s Hymn to Apollo: “Curtained with star-inwoven tapestries.” And these vestiges from old thoughts waft up, shoulda-woulda thoughts, like: What if we knew about the natural gas reserves hidden in buried tanks for just such a situation. What if we knew the portals were real, where they held huge caches of life-giving auras and fresh water. Would that have saved us? Man, let that go, too haphazard to maintain any equilibrium anyway. 

Look up now: a black so clean it has no surface or depth. It’s just plain absence...Let’s watch the movement of lightness into dark and back to light…There is still this “present moment,” you feel it, right? And there is still this place, this ground still underfoot. Even from the point of view of the now defunct supernatural, the thinly-veiled spirit world that once was, where shades once repped the people who once were, there is still this ground beneath us. And what was the word for waves in the sea, and clouds in the sky?

In a minute, we’re gonna talk about love, but isn’t this just too incredible right now? C’mon. Let’s take this in…Walk the world alone with us...
Welcome to the play, by the way. The nice thing about the play is it makes a place wherever we gather: make a semi-circle on the floor, make some rows, whatever; wherever we can see each other. This is where you go when there’s no place to go, or place to put ideas that otherwise would just float in space.

...We were at war. A twenty-year-plus war with no end in sight. What did that feel like? Well, don’t ask the universe. Like a human’s eye view of the frantic ant colony, such was the cosmic view of human warfare; the utterly neutral cosmos (which is not the same as God) said, “Man either will or won’t carry on in some fashion -- what do we care if it’s Muslim, Christo-Judeo, or Zoroastrianism??” 

For old times’ sake, let’s briefly draw out some elements of Earth. I have three or four remarkable locales in mind…
One is palagonite mountains and basalt, and after the reptilian ridges, and depth of field, the green lacing, fading lines of the hills into silhouette, and blending or taking on the sky, yet still with shape; lazy slopes, scooped piles dumped, and settled into what we called beauty, perfection, personal freedom: everything with a natural explanation. Let’s take this gradual, easy decline...The reason the rocks are different kinds is they got made at different temperatures. 

And now look this water, isn’t this interesting: the water has an uncut, glassy look that should only signify cleanliness, healthfulness, a geometry that comes from geology, harkening the affair between Gaea and Pontus. This water is a river wanting to be an ocean. It still has that playful bounce of a kid wanting to be a man and just as poignant, because while you root for it, you can't help thinking: you're a dirty river, you'll never amount to anything. The Indians had a name for you that means something like, “travels in both directions.”

...And over here, this place here: sun sun and sun, blue blue and blue, desperate blue. Sand, flats of sand, more sand, now, flats of sand. And the sun dries anything it can find, including the fluid in your eyeballs. Including you. Dry sand and sand and sand. If you ever wanted exile, this was the place. 

Long term we were never gonna make it out here. We needed each other, and yet we were often alone and wouldn’t see each other again...Thinking about the past and I wonder if you would just imagine, or remember: Love has no merit nor no blame, love is love... 
It's behind us...we turn away.

Paradiso, by R.M.

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