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Mixed Messages

Momma looked at Junior and smiled at him to say,

“You look tired, son.  Why don’t you go to bed?”

But what she really meant was,

“I am sick of you today.  Go to your room before I break your head.”

So Junior went up to his room and then he closed the door,

Turned down the sound and popped on the TV.

And got lost in mixed messages,

The twisted metaphors of everything his life was meant to be.


The advertisers told him that his life was incomplete.

They sell diseases, then they sell the cure.

The business of illusion is impossible to beat

When audiences don’t know what it’s for.

So Junior grew up thinking there’s no answer in himself

And everything important is outside.

Sad, cynical and angry, and accumulating wealth,

Love was replaced by his ferocious pride.


I went to see the Mets play.  Junior was on my mind.

The announcer said, “Don’t do drugs with our fans.”

But the biggest signs of all were the Budweiser in right field

And Marlboro beyond the left field stands.

And politicos will get behind the smoking bans you hear — then subsidize tobacco’s industry.

We are paying with our lives for special interests that they fear.

Mixed messages are killing you and me.


Did you ever wonder why the army has its priests?

Jesus said to love your enemy.

Or a country keeps in power the dictators of a world and never has a stated policy.

And those who wrap themselves in the glory of a flag

Are the largest criminals you ever saw.

Where to be a freedom fighter means to learn to burn a school.

And a peacekeeper can start the Third World War.


Mixed messages we get each day make it so hard to believe

That anything someone says can be true.

Some feed on the confusion.  Others know that they deceive.

Believing nothing works for quite a few.

But I prefer to think I do my best to be aware

Of where I’ve been and my shortcomings too.

The question that I ask is,

“Do I fear or do I dare to have honest relationships with you?”


Now Junior’s lying in his grave.  He never stood a chance.

Mixed messages had twisted his poor mind.

He never knew what it was that was missing in his life.

He told me he was never satisfied.

The divorces and his business and the parties took their toll.

The tension and his blindness did him in.

He was looking for salvation in the things he bought and sold,

Never stopping long enough to look within.


Now advertisers tell us that our lives are incomplete.

And governments will tell us what is true.

The Pentagon assures me we need weapons out in space.

And the AMA will take good care of you.

But I prefer to think we’d do our best to be aware

Of where they’ve been and their agenda too.

The question that I ask is,

Do they fear or do they dare to have honest relationships with you?

Joel Landy, ©, 1988  

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