Ani DiFranco, “Self evident”



Us people are just poems

We’re ninety percent metaphor

With a leanness of meaning

Approaching hyper-distillation

And once upon a time

We were moonshine

Rushing down the throat of a giraffe

Yes, rushing down the long hallway

Despite what the p.a. announcement says

Yes, rushing down the long hall

Down the long stairs

In a building so tall

That it will always be there

Yes, it’s part of a pair

There on the bow of Noah’s ark

The most prestigious couple

Just kickin’ back parked

Against a perfectly blue sky

On a morning beatific

In its Indian summer breeze

On the day that America

Fell to its knees

After strutting around for a century

Without saying thank you

Or please

And the shock was subsonic

And the smoke was deafening

Between the setup and the punch line

Cause we were all on time for work that day

We all boarded that plane for to fly

And then while the fires were raging

We all climbed up on the window sill

And then we all held hands

And jumped into the sky

And every borough looked up when it heard the first blast

And then every dumb action movie was summarily surpassed

And the exodus uptown by foot and motorcar

Looked more like war than anything I’ve seen so far, so far, so far

So fierce and ingenious

A poetic specter so far gone

That every jackass newscaster was struck dumb and stumbling

Over “oh my god” and “this is unbelievable” and on and on

And I’ll tell you what, while we’re at it

You can keep the Pentagon

Keep the propaganda

Keep each and every tv

That’s been trying to convince me

To participate

In some prep school punk’s plan to perpetuate retribution

Perpetuate retribution

Even as the blue toxic smoke of our lesson in retribution

Is still hanging in the air

And there’s ash on our shoes

And there’s ash in our hair

And there’s a fine silt on every mantle

From hell’s kitchen to Brooklyn

And the streets are full of stories

Sudden twists and near misses

And soon every open bar is crammed to the rafters

With tales of narrowly averted disasters

And the whiskey is flowin’

Like never before

As all over the country

Folks just shake their heads

And pour


So here’s a toast to all the folks that live in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, El Salvador

Here’s a toast to the folks living on the pine ridge reservation

Under the stone cold gaze of Mt. Rushmore

Here’s a toast to all those nurses and doctors

Who daily provide women with a choice

Who stand down a threat the size of Oklahoma City

Just to listen to a young woman’s voice

Here’s a toast to all the folks on death row right now

Awaiting the executioner’s guillotine

Who are shackled there with dread and can only escape into their heads

To find peace in the form of a dream, peace in the form of a dream, peace in the form of a dream

Cause take away our PlayStations

And we are a third world nation

Under the thumb of some blue blood royal son

Who stole the Oval Office and that phony election

I mean

It don’t take a weatherman

To look around and see the weather

Jeb said he’d deliver Florida, folks

And boy did he ever

And we hold these truths to be self evident:

Number one, George W. Bush is not president

Number two, America is not a true democracy

Number three, the media is not fooling me

Cause I am a poem heeding hyper-distillation

I’ve got no room for a lie so verbose

I’m looking out over my whole human family

And I’m raising my glass in a toast

Here’s to our last drink of fossil fuels


May we vow to get off of this sauce

Shoo away the swarms of commuter planes

And find that train ticket we lost

Cause once upon a time the line followed the river

And peeked into all the backyards

And the laundry was waving

The graffiti was teasing us

From brick walls and bridges

We were rolling over ridges

Through valleys

Under stars

I dream of touring like Duke Ellington

In my own railroad car


I dream of waiting on the tall blond wooden benches

In a grand station aglow with grace

And then standing out on the platform

And feeling the air, the air, the air on my face

Give back the night its distant whistle

Give the darkness back its soul

Give the big oil companies the finger finally

And relearn how to rock-n-roll

Yes, the lessons are all around us and the truth is waiting there

So it’s time to pick through the rubble, clean the streets and clear the air

Get our government to pull its big dick out of the sand

Of someone else’s desert

Put it back in its pants

And quit the hypocritical chants of

Freedom forever

Cause when one lone phone rang

In two thousand and one

At ten after nine

On nine one one

Which is the number we all called

When that lone phone rang right off the wall

Right off our desk and down the long hall

Down the long stairs

In a building so tall

That the whole world turned

Just to watch it fall


And while we’re at it

Remember the first time around?

The bomb?

The Ryder truck?

The parking garage?

The princess that didn’t even feel the pea?

Remember joking around in our apartment on Avenue D?

Can you imagine how many paper coffee cups would have to change their design

Following a fantastical reversal of the New York skyline?!

It was a joke

At the time

And that was just a few years ago

So let the record show

That the Fbi was all over that case

That the plot was obvious and in everybody’s face

And scoping that scene


The Cia or is it Kgb?

Committing countless crimes against humanity

With this kind of eventuality

As its excuse

For abuse after expensive abuse

And it didn’t have a clue

Look, another window to see through

Way up here

On the hundredth and fourth floor


Another key

Another door

Ten percent literal

Ninety percent metaphor

Three thousand some poems disguised as people

On an almost too perfect day

Must be more than pawns

In some asshole’s passion play

So now it’s your job

And it’s my job

To make it that way

To make sure they didn’t die in vain


Baby listen

Hear the train?

[By Ani DiFranco © Righteous Babe – A Side Music LLC D/B/A Modern Works Music Publishing, 2002]

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