Stephen Houpt

These are the lyrics from my latest album, Just This Moment.  All lyrics copyright 2107 Stephen Houpt unless otherwise indicated.

 

Debbie and Carrie (This is an instrumental, no lyrics.)

As the Sun Sets (from a poem by 8th century Chinese poet Pei Ti)

As the sun sets, the wind stirs among the pine trees

On our way home, already a thin layer of dew is on the grass

The luminescence of the clouds seeps into the tracks of our footprints

The halcyon haze of the mountains brushes against our clothes

Blues at Dusk (a blues instrumental, no lyrics)

The Zendo Crickets (lyrics copyright 2017 Todd Jeffries)

It was a time when drums rolled through the streets

Spewing ashes

When burnt up hobo dreams everywhere caught fire

Sending small sparks like bits of broken glass among the rubble

Reflection clear as a starry night

And quiet as the zendo crickets

The flickering faces of shadowy friends

In the circle of light

All the fires went out at daybreak

The hoboes took the boards to build shacks

And live in them

They were gone

And now only emptiness remains

Grandmother's Estate Sale

They're selling everything:

Her house and her overgrown lot

An old black car

Round at the corners

Badly in need of repair

Appliances dishes paintings and frames

Books chairs the dresses she wore

A box of brown photographs

Now fading like the

Slow drain of

Possessions and

Presence and place

Yes that box of old photographs

Pictures of a family I can barely recall

Her tide went out

like the fall of fruit

or autumn leaves

She died on the beat

of the music

like changing seasons

A turn of the wheel

and she was gone

But still we cried

Last Leaves of the Ginkgo Tree

The last golden leaves

Of the ginkgo tree

Flutter like fans

Against the grey sky

And my last breath is

Breathed while

The last chord is struck

And the golden notes hang

In the cold clear air

Alone in Shifting Shadows

Sitting alone in shifting shadows,

Listening, looking

Across the stream:

Blue spruce grows among

Old twisted roots and stones.

Just this moment

And my breathing,

Water swirls and flows

And doesn't return,

Roll on!

Autumn Longing (lyrics adapted from a poem by 8th century Chinese poet Wang Wei)

Flying birds depart in endless procession

Rolling hills again blaze in autumn

Up and down I walk along Huazi Ridge

Enshrouded in sadness, melancholy

Longing for younger days

When will this feeling end?

The Gathering Shadows (lyrics adapted from a poem by 11th century Chinese poetess Li Ching Chao)

All alone, I stand

Motionless at my window,

I watch the gathering shadows.

Fine rain sifts through the wu-t'ung trees,

And drips, drop by drop through the dusk.

I have seen the wild geese overhead,

And I have searched the cold

And sought the clear and

Found no peace,

Only agony, pain, and sorrow.

What can I do now?

How can I fight off this world?

Forty Days and Forty Nights (lyrics copyright Bernard Roth, not printed here)

These are the lyrics from my second CD, Sweet Green Mystery.  All lyrics copyright 2016 Stephen Houpt unless otherwise indicated.

Sweet Green Mystery

Piece of paradise

Your sweet green scent

Arouses the ancient longing

Calls me home

Where is my shining palace

The trees that breathe

The clouds that feel

Sweet green mystery

Send me a light

Reality, you sleeping snake

Stretch your diamonds

Make the straight line curve

The Introvert Blues

Did you ever feel left out

When you were in a crowd

Did you ever want to talk

But thought you'd be too loud

You want to say something

But there's no way to get it in

And you just sit there

And let them spin and spin

Then welcome to my world

You're an introvert like me

The talkers go on talking

And you want to climb a tree

Sorrow of Departure (Lyrics adapted from a poem by Li Ching Chao, Chinese poetess of the Sung Dynasty)

Red lotus incense fades

Autumn comes again

Gently I open my silk dress

And float alone on the orchid boat

Who can take a letter beyond the clouds?

Only the wild geese come back

But we are far apart

And I have grown learned in sorrow

Nothing can make it dissolve

One moment

It is on my brow

The next, it weighs on my heart

Mystical Sludge and the Used Car Blues

a worried friend

of a worried man

paced wildly

round the hall

mystical sludge

the great grease

clogged his

third eye ball

not even the Om man

with face to the wall

or all the mahatmas

tall great and small

could help him

(though they called

and called)

the Om machine

groaned and grinned

a mystical grin

but still the old junk heap stalled

Swinging on Cherry Trees

Yes there were those times

When it wasn't too cold

And it wasn't too hot

When we laughed and sat

In the gentle breeze

Of the porch

And swinging on cherry trees

Was sure fun

Just Like Looking at a Tree

It is the time of redbuds

A huge old willow lies in the creek

It's long green strands

Flowing with the current

Something sad and noble

In its fading painful growth

Brown and yellow leaves

A warm fall day.  Dry limestone

Creek bed to a clear stream.

Long waist length

Waves of hair

Shining golden brown

In the sunlight

It was just like 

Looking at a tree

A Few More Kicks in the Heart

Why come back puppy-like

For a few more kicks

In the heart

The trees and bees

Never cared

The sun came out

And the wind

Played in my hair

Fat and thin

Grin

On this magic spin

Floating through air

The bones and stones

And big green leaves

All laid together

And played in the rain

Rotted in the sun

Died and grew

And all the time

They knew

They knew

Sitting Here

Sitting here

Listening

I feel sad

My little daughter

Will soon be gone

I've known for some while

We've discussed it so much

Her sweet head

Still resting on my shoulder,

I know truly

The meaning of care

Among the Skulls and Mango Vines

I touched the tip of a hummingbird

And lifted a finger over the trees

Mango vines grew up among all the old skulls

And a man prayed on his knees

Oh the tavern was dusty late Sunday night

Many a man's brain lay on the floor

But the trees in the room were still all right

None of them went out the door

An old man's beard still hung on the coat rack

Long and white and thick

And new green leaves were laid in a stack

By some old brown hand that looked sick

"Yes death is life, life is death,"

Wailed the old man out back

And he played on a flute a most beautiful note

And put it right back in his pack

Seeing Li Po in a Dream (Lyrics adapted from a poem by Tang Dynasty Chinese poet Tu Fu)

From the poisonous damps

You had sent me not one sign

Until you came to me last night in a dream

Sliding through the green

You disappeared

Yet out of the midmost mesh of your snare

How could you lift your wings?

There were waters to cross

If you fell, there were dragons down below

I woke, and the low moon's glimmer on the wall

Seemed to be your face

The Trees and the View

Easter mornings are coming more often

The maple tree is resurrected too

While pear blossoms rise softly to heaven,

A man gazes at the trees and the view

Far down a long lane

Sun is shining on an ancient orchard

Cherry blossoms,

A cool spring breeze,

A man in the sun

Spinning Away

Spinning away like maple seeds

Over mountainous terrain

Stars floating around

It's easy to see

How they saw Orion

Big shells to put over your ears

For stereo sea sleeping

The sun gently lavishing

Its golden glow

I realized it's the openness I've missed

It's the loving I've missed

And not the girl herself

The Sacred Flower Cone

The blossoms are in full swing

And the moon has risen

There's no way out of paradise

In my hand I hold

The sacred flower cone

Of the magic yellow feather tree

 

These are the lyrics to the songs in my first CD, Hey Neighbor.  All lyrics copyright 2015 Stephen Houpt unless otherwise indicated.

New Mexico Skies

I headed out for New Mexico skies

Waters cold and the mountains high

Deep blue

Bright stars

 

Aspens shimmering in the wind

Alpine meadow where the stream begins

Hard rain

Dark clouds

 

Indian walk through pinyon pine

Shards of pottery from ancient times

Wide plain

Free soul

 

I headed out for New Mexico skies

 

Parting at the Yellow Crane Terrace (lyrics by Li Po)

You have left me behind, old friend, at the Yellow Crane Terrace,

On your way to Yangzhou in the misty month of flowers;

Your sail, a single shadow, becomes one with the blue sky,

Till I see only the river, flowing away.

Full Moon (lyrics by Tu Fu)

Isolate and full, the moon

Floats over the house by the river.

Below the gate cold water rushes away.

The bright gold spilled on the river is never stilled.

The brilliance of my quilt is greater than precious silk.

The circle without blemish,

The empty mountains without sound,

The moon hangs in the wide, vacant sky.

Pine cones drop in the garden,

Senna trees bloom in the field.

The same clear glory repeats itself,

Regardless of how I feel.

Floating in Gold

It was a fall day: dark and leafless

And I searched among the last bits of gold

Floating over a dark brown forest

There was no crooked grin tall man

Wanting to have a good time

And I searched among the feathers of pigeons

Hoping to find the rhyme

My head grew heavy

My feet wouldn't move

I crawled over pavement

I got in a groove

Faster and faster

The grass hurried by

Till I found a tall tree

Gold leaves lying by

And I climbed and climbed and floated in gold

Near the dark leafless sky

Vernon

He'd been sitting in that choir chair

for more than fifty years,

Wednesdays and Sundays seemingly without end,

filling the chancel with his deep rumbling voice,

the earthy wisdom of his prayers.

When I saw him the week before he died,

he looked bad,

his eyelids rimmed with red,

his movements creaky,

like the doors

on a million mile Olds '88.

But when I looked past all that

into the clarity of his eyes,

I saw that it was all still there:

the guts he had repeatedly shown, enduring the pain,

the encouragement he had given me

as I sat beside him through the years,

the rough edges of his wit,

the little movements of his soft, weathered hands.

A Man Entranced

Pear blossoms float on a

Small blue stream

A dark green wood

A thousand sunbeams

A man entranced by

Spherical sound

Stuck in the mud

Feet on the ground

A pine grove sings

On the hill up ahead

A disgusting mess clutters

The old shed

"I never wanted to end up here

All alone,

If I could clean up a bit,

Throw out the old bones."

He saw an indigo bunting

Fly through the air

Forgot who he was

Or at least didn't care

Beer Glass

I saw an old man cry

the other night

on the Antiques Road Show

when he found out

how much his old

beer glass

was worth,

and I couldn't help wondering

what had brought him to this point,

why his voice had cracked

so tenderly

and his face had shriveled

like the face of a mother

who'd just given birth.

A Poem for Willis

Slanting sunlight lit the attic's old beams and planks

With a yellow brown glow

She thought of Willis; he always walked this time of day

Something about the afternoon light of fall

The rich glow on tree trunks, the deep blue clear air

Something about fall and poetry

Beautiful but intensely sad

Leaves, some green, some brown,

Hanging or lying in piles

All lit with beams of golden light

Willis, out walking, feeling the earth

Writing with the movement of his breath

Seeing the interplay of shadows on the ground

Dimensions flowing with the air

She looked through the attic window

At the apple trees outside

Those apples sure look red

Maybe pick one for Willis

That big red one up there,

When he returns home whisper in his ear

This is a poem for you my dear

Seeking You (lyrics by Tu Fu)

Spring in the mountains,

I come alone seeking you.

The streams are all icy.

There's snow on the trail.

At sunset I reach your grove

In the stony mountain pass.

You want nothing.

You have learned to be gentle

As the mountain deer you have tamed.

The way back forgotten, hidden

Away, I become like you,

An empty boat, floating, adrift.

A Relationship Sandwich

In the beginning

I did nothing

To win you

In quick moments

We drew near,

Loved,

Grew distant,

And parted

In the end

I did nothing

To lose you

It was almost

Like eating a

Relationship sandwich

It tasted great

At the beginning

I got full about

Halfway through

And at the end

It was gone

Deep Blue Moment

Arms entwined,

We walked with you

To the Yellow Crane House.

Soft and strong,

In the deep blue moment

Our voices rose.

Tears like beautiful bells

Hung suspended in your eyes;

In the clear air

They rang the truth of your leaving.

You left, we sat,

Trying not to cry,

But crying.

It didn't have to be said:

"It's moments like this

that make life rich."

Deep in the Mountain Wilderness (lyrics by Wang Wei)

Deep in the mountain wilderness

Where nobody ever comes

Only once in a great while

Something like the sound of a far off voice.

The low rays of the sun

Slip through the dark forest,

Gleam again on the shadowy moss.

Me Alone

Walking through a long green field

The sounds of wind in trees

Thinking of a long lost love

And getting on my knees

I didn't want to be alone

I tried with all my might

And now that wind's blown on my face

And birds flown from the night

I'm sick, I'm sad

My baby's gone

The wind, the green

And me - alone