W I L L I A M   C O D Y   M A H E R

works bio events press links contact










I wanted to run away to a country
Where people weren't running to get out

I arrived at one country
And I was greeted by a soldier out of uniform
but well armed

In another country
A doctor offered me what medicine he had left

In another country
A priest was hurriedly packing away a cross
three wise men and a few lambs in straw

Another country
Looked good from a distance
But when I got up close
I couldn't bear to look

In another country
A man was fighting for his life at a bad
rate of exchange

In another country
Dust was being kicked up to cover the dirt

In another country
A document  was gatherering signatures at an agreed upon price

While another country
Fought back its tears
With the gas

Another country
Was cleaning out its cage
When I stepped in by mistake

Another country
Was advertising the country next to it at reduced rates

While another country
Was putting sand in its pockets to soak up the blood

Another country
Was in the middle of a transaction under a hood

Another country
Had its blinds down so I couldn't see in

While another country
Kept seeing things
That still weren't there

Another country
Was putting itself back together
From two rotten halves

While another country
Spoke eloquently about what kind of a country
It had dreamed it would be one day

Another country
Excused itself and continued to fight off flies

While another country
Carried a woman
Over a threshold
Into a dark hole

Another country
Was rolling out the red carpet
As heads rolled behind the scenes

I waited in international waters to be rescued.




I was almost human but then something went wrong
I was a human being but then I became a victim
I almost became a human being but then I ran out of time
I was one of two human beings involved in a hideous crime
I was one of three human beings caught up in a mystery
I forgot what it was like to feel human a long time ago
I was set off as a human torch in the eyes of my fellow man
I was human but then it stopped paying off
I was one of two human beings in love with a third
I felt godlike but it didn't last
I was human but it felt strange to me
It was fun being human for awhile till the fun wore off
I was human but then I was in too much pain
I loved a human being once and can hardly believe it now
I saved a human being once but couldn't save myself
I pulled a human being out of the water once
but it was already dead
I was a human being as long as it was in fashion
I was in the business of being human
I hunted down humans for a living
Act like a human being he cried and then fired the gun
I saw a human being once from a great distance
I wanted to get close to a human being once but I failed
A human being once wrote a beautiful letter to me
but I didn't have the courage to answer it
I watched a human being get away with murder
A human being was singing once and then it stopped
Human beings can be found everywhere
yet I have never really known one
Until you have lost a human being you loved
you can't really call yourself human
A great human being was said to have lived here
I looked in the mirror once and saw something that looked
like a viscous animal
So that's what they look like, I thought
It didn't look half human when they were finished with it
I wouldn't want to be a human being for all the money in the world
Now that 's a human being I thought and then it went for my throat
I saw the most gentle human being the other day.
She didn't see me.



Dec 8th 1980

For John Lennon

The film begins
With a slow tracking shot
Past an army of mourners
Leaving Central Park
In the foreground
The young woman news reporter
Her face scarred
By a decade's
The television cameras
In slow motion rising
To an iron wrought gate
Wreathed in flowers
As gothic
As the last decade's remains
The Dakota rises up
Out of the wind and dust
On seventy second street
The expected black limousines
Going uptown in the rain
The police car speeding
To Roosevelt Hospital
An early morning wind
Blowing the headlines
Up twenty third street
Past The Chelsea Hotel
an ambulance waiting
Alone in the rain
The Poet
On his way to The Guggenheim
To see The Expressionists
Helicopters circling
An army of mourners
Their heads lowered
Into ten minutes of silence
Followed by
Beethoven's Ode to Joy
A boy hiding
Afraid beneath the sheets
A red two-transistor radio
To his ear
And now the news
Hurried speeches
From the embassy rooftops in Saigon
Police familiar as lovers
Brazenly stand
Heroic behind blue barricades
On a hill in the rain
Overlooking the mourners
That came by television
From all over the world
The black limousines
The widow and the child
Past the coffin
Draped with The American Flag
Out of the wind and dust
Skidding off the decks
Of aircraft carriers
Into the Red Sea
The mourners' heads
Lining the streets
Lowered into
The face of the cameras
In last night's dream
The salesman laughing
Holding a radio
To the ear of the child
That broadcasts the future
Yes said the boy
But don't you have one less expensive
The Poet
Walking down the Lower East Side
Sitting at the counter
Of the Kiev restaurant
It's Tuesday
Cabbage soup
In 22 minutes we give you the world
The woman news reporter
Standing outside the gates of the Dakota
The mourners' heads
Lowered into
Candles in the rain
The Poet
Walking toward central Park
Past the Christmas window displays
A Japanese radio for sale
A boy on a sun-filled porch
A radio to his ear
Falling helplessly
Down through the wind and dust
Blown up against police barricades
The salesman laughing
The Poet
Being dragged by the hair
Down the decks of the USS Coral Sea
Surrounded by enraged marines
What did you say about the flag boy?
I said we shouldn't be over there
He was taking the flag's name in vain sir
I said we had no right to kill innocent people
The salesman laughing
Vendors selling popcorn
The helicopters in slow motion
Falling helplessly
Into the Red Sea
A boy hiding
Beneath the sheets
A read two transistor radio
To his ear
Praying Bobby Kennedy wouldn't die
The coffin rising
Through the wind and dust
Of a decade's remains
The Poet's head
Lowered like a flag
Into ten minutes of silence
The young woman news reporter's face
Familiar as a lover's
Standing at the gates
Wreathed in flowers
Riots in the rain
Moonwalks in the dust
Assassinations in the wind
And now the news…




I was born in a shack on a dead end street
I was born on the day The Soviet Union fell
I was born on the day the Berlin wall came down
I was born on the day our government changed hands
I was born on the first day of spring
I was born in the coldest year of this century
I was born in the year of the dragon
I was born in the middle of an air raid
I was born on the day the first man landed on the moon
I was born in the back of a truck on a mountain pass
I was born with a weapon at my back
I was born with a weapon in my hands
I was born with you by my side
I was born when they took away my freedom
I was born when the century was knee deep in blood
I was born out of a desperate need
I was born into a tragic era
I was born after a violent assault
I was born dead
I was born to take a beating
I was born with a gift for words
I was born on the day we met
I was born with my hands stained with blood
I was born to be a leader
I was born with a gift of song
I was born to do what I was told
I was born to accept whatever was thrown at me
I was born to turn the other cheek
I was born into slavery
I was born out of love
I was born by mistake
I was born in a small village
I was born in the back of a cab
I was born on a river boat
I was born in chains
I was born to look down on people like you
I was born without a prayer in the world
I was born just in time to step into a uniform
I was born to be wined and dined
I was born to be discovered in a ditch
I was born to be looked at wherever I went
I was born to be cut down before I reached voting age
I was born to lead my people to the promised land
I was born to lead my people around in circles
I was born to chase my own tail
I was born against the current
I was born on the wrong side of the tracks
I was born with a window facing a wall
I was born to seek revenge
I was born to sell flowers
I was born to direct films
I was born on the day Monroe died
I was born and before I had a chance to scream I died
I was born with a yellow streak climbing up my back
I was born raising a white flag
I was born and died and then was born again
I was born on the day war was declared
I was born on the day you walked out on me
I was born to a Russian princess
I was born on a hillside in San Tropez
I was born in a wooden shack in Hunter's Point
I was born the day Russian tanks entered Prague
I was born the day Nelson Mandela was set free
I was born on the stage
I was born to be a great writer
I died realizing none of my dreams
I died after having achieved all of my aims
I died to a packed house every night
I died to keep a family of five alive
I died without raising my head in protest
I died protecting my own skin
I died in the presence of a witness
I died at the expense of the State
I died to make it easy for you
I died and went to Heaven
I died and went to Hell
I died and was thrown in a hole
I died and they dug me back up
I died and life goes on
I died to keep my word
I died to keep the peace
I died to keep what was mine
from getting into the wrong hands
I died at the height of my powers
I died at the peak of my game
I died for a handful of investors
I died to keep you in silk
I died of my own free will
I died when it was taken away
I died out of respect for those that came before me
I died to keep something living
I died to lay something to rest
I died to get your blessing
I died because of a curse
I died at the mention of your name
I died at the sound of your voice
I died to teach you a lesson
I died to protect your good name
I died on a lonely road
I died on a crowded street
I died on a railroad crossing
I died in my bed
I died after a wave swept me away
I died close to home
I died in space
I died every time I looked in your eyes
and saw nothing there
I died as part of the agreement
I died to pay off a debt
I died with a handful of promises
I died with even less than that
I died and the world stood still
I died and the crowd tore me to pieces
I died and was raised on their shoulders
I'm alive in these words
See if you can find me...




In front of my creation
The sky looks for a stone
To crawl under
The wind
Looks desperately
For a face it can turn to
The clouds take advantage
Of a little rain
Before the sea
Strikes them down
With a vengeance
In front of my creation
I stand accused
Until the medicine wears off
And the mourners
Who are well paid
Still look for appropriate costumes
Where the few
Remaining burdens
Continue to transport my shoulders
To climates more hospitable
In front of my creation
Where I walk as tall as any man
With weeds grown over my head
Where I play cat and mouse
With competing jaws in the trap
Where I return the gift
In an unmarked brown paper bag
In front of my creation
Where you are still provocative
In a setting I provide while you sleep
Where hands continue
To be raised in a military salute
In a plastic bag
Moldy with holy communion dough
In front of my creation
In full view of my spectators
In utter disregard with the competition
At total war with my contemporaries
In false step with the evening program
In perfect harmony with dissonant factions
In the requisite posture of reclining prophets
In absolute devotion to the terms of my engagement
In front of my creation
Where impulses are kept on ice
Until they can receive compatible donors
Where appreciation is limited to a few
Lucky peepholes
Sure of my place wherever tongues are served
Idle as a pause before the remains are polished off
As eloquent as a moment of silence
broken by a distant scream
In front of my creation
While the population rushes to the cinema in the rain
An endless admirer of my ability to escape my own logic
To greet the dawn as any self respecting voyeur
Before ration cards become a thing of my past
Before we dispense with authority with one mighty roar
In front of my creation
Where I make more sense than you can imagine
In front of my creation
That rises up like a monument
That comes with complete instructions
In a picturesque frame of reference
Suitable to hang from a rusted hook.