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Burning City Smoking

Kevin Devine

Forty million refugees with no place on this earth to call their home
One for every aimless graduate with nothing else to show for it but loans
And those of us who make a mark use some Iraqi's blood
Our Western stain won't wash away, it won't vanish in the flood
It sets deeper with each hurricane and tidal wave and war
We want everything we see, and once it's gone we just want more
Atlas had those shoulders
We've got Ambien, we've got Jameson's, we sniff coke to bind us in a bubble, keep the newsprint nightmare distant and remote
But when we wake in guillotines and pitch out screaming fits
When the governer strikes up the band and gags our parted lips
When the worst case shows up dressed and dazzling, ready for the ball
Boy that bubble's bound to burst and what a tragic way to fall
The tabloids tell us hate the rat who strikes those subways closed and puts you out
Forget those fifty hour tunnel weeks
Inhaling steel dust poison through his mouth
Well if he don't deserve a pension that makes his family feel secure
If we're now so disconnected, it's our reflections we ignore
And if our constant choice is skimming past the writing on the wall
Then I'm sad to say we're lost and I'm embarrassed for us all

So most days I can't put to rest the burning city smoking in my mind
And I play pretend the principles are nothing more than actors running lines
And I stumble through a movie set where torture victims laugh
And embedded journalists who juggle knives and daggered glass while they entertain a mob of heads, the state and CEOs
I stagger past anarchist extras through saloon doors painted gold

So I turn and I see Uncle Sam inside a wardrobe ready for the shoot
So I walk right up and talk to him, I tell him that I'm scared and I'm confused
While they test those cameras out and get the lighting right, catering fills coffee cups and carves up apple pie
And while the stylists trim his beard and straighten those lapels
I ask his empire eyes what made him drive us straight to hell
And as my daydream ends he stands ashamed, a shocked and shattered shell
But there's never any answers for my starving tongue to tell
'Cause the director's shouting action, I'm thrown off set, it's just
as well
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