Downcountry Blues

Soon we’ll be downcountry moving

At the darkening edges of another wasted day
Our dust will rise behind, in dusty double barrels
Our angry taillights fade

Here we are downcountry moving
None but the sound of the radio a playin’ low
Now that our worst fears are proven and we come all this way
We can’t find her in that blank face, not a trace
We wonder why, but the dead don’t lie

You see your mother, well she’s gone son
Swimming in a whiskey bottle oh so many days
She’s been gone so long, I can’t make her love you
So let’s be on our way

Maybe she’ll send us a letter
Maybe she’ll get better, be come herself again
Maybe listen to reason, beg our forgiveness
Maybe she wouldn’t send us back

With empty guts and hearts again

But know that I’ll always be here son
Even when the whole world seems against us every day
It’s OK to hold my hand, and sit by me in the pickup
Ain’t nobody’ll know but us

When we go downcountry moving
None but the sound of the radio a playin’ low
Now that our worst fears are proven and we come all this way
We can’t find her in that blank face, not a trace
We wonder why, every last god damn time
But she just won't say


Nuevo Laredo
To Nuevo Laredo I walked 24 hours
In the terrible sun, or under blankets of stars
And the kindness of people that I met on the road
They kept me going

I walked into town under a red sunset
I slept in the bars, in the alleys and squares
The hours passed slowly and I waited all night
For the first light, for the moment
When I’d rise up and wander in the blistering sun
Toward the new land

All the roads here point north
Here in the land of the gun
Now I’m washed up in Nuevo Laredo’s dirty sun

There’s a place in the desert where no police guns go
And my sister Malena said she meet me there
After two moon-rises and hard luck night
She’d be waiting

But some very bad men brought my sister there
But their blood bandana in her beautiful hair
And her pretty face painted like a clown or a harlot
In the daylight
And that’s when I knew how much my dream of the north
Was gonna cost me

And all the roads here point north
In the land of the gun
And the streets of Nuevo Laredo’s a dirty song
Now sing it

I walked in the heat back to Nuevo Laredo
My dreams of the north burnt away, far far away
I drank my own tears for my sister Malena
I’d never see her quite the same
At home she would steal for me yams and tamales
And bring them at night to my room
For she always shivering and me always hungry
The milk from her breast was so warm . . .

All the roads here point north
In the land of the gun
I got a mark on my head
I got a chill in my bones

And I wander the streets and the alleys
And always dream of the hills and the valleys
Now I’m the streets of Nuevo Laredo’s dirty son
Now sing it


Hands
Ranchero speeding through stoplights
Amber and evil at sunset
In that town where the sheriff
Is the king

Well did you think you were the only one
To make love in the moonlight
What was your excuse for that
My childhood friend

When you fell upon the town
There was laughter all around in the moonlight
Your cheeks had been caressed
In the pale, cool darkness of hands
You found her in the yard
Staring at a bonfire of her garments
She'd been scraped out like a gourd
By the cold, sterile violence of hands
And she cries when the child brigade
Marches by in the rain

When you returned home that summer
Was it as late as then
When sullen and forlorn you found out
Your child had been stillborn

This was the information
That floated all around that day
The leaves blew around us
And you lived it all over me in the courtyard

When the moon is high
When the leaves are off
Don't you love it all, don't you love it all . . .
When the wheat is nigh
When the fruit is off
Don't you love it all? Don't you love it all?


Sadness
Who’s that looking in the window
Tell him to come in and have a drink
Stand him up and bless him
Wash his hands in the sink

The moon is your soldier
The sun has your gold
I could speak to ya, ya know

Last one burned harder
My eyes moved to the door
Singer sing slowly
Don’t want to hear that song anymore

The moon is your hunter
And the sun had to go
His eyes tell a story of long ago

I walk the streets that I never have seen
Pass through this world without ever being seen

So mama don’t carry on
Because I’m already gone
My old friend the sadness has come


Steakhouse
I woke up on her trailer floor
Head pounding from the night before
What evil brought me to this low down place?

She walked by on the bright midway
She turned and looked into my face
At midnight she returned to me in spades

She showed up with 2 bottles full
She took me to this trailer court
Her mailbox had been marked “Virginia H.”

We did it once, silent and hard
While lonely dogs were howling in her little front yard
And I thought I saw a savage look pass quickly from her face

She’s on the phone she’s talking low
She said ‘I know a place, lets go.
'The steakhouse bar will serve one hour more.'

We entered through a padded door
Cigarette smoke filled the air
A dark jukebox beside a dark dance floor

And the only light hung above the bar
And a line of locals raised their heads to stare
With looks of hate and hunger written clearly on each face
And she gave me over happily . . .

It lights up on the edge of town
While night is falling all around
The Steakhouse

Where you can look around and gaze
The naked truth on every plate
The Steakhouse

They punched me up for all to see
They dragged me back and cowboyed me
In the Steakhouse

The room was billowing with smoke
I heard the door behind me close
As the faces of occupants came clear

Before I knew I should be scared
They slammed me down into a chair
They punched me dumb and shaved off all my hair

And they took their turns, and they laughed and leered
I was gagged and bound with duct tape to a chair
They had their way with me
And the night grew long, as I trembled there
My blood lay in a pool under the chair
And finally I renounced all of my hopes of being saved
And the last thing I remember were their 15 voices singing


Interstate
Steam hanging low on the heather
Burning in a flash sunrise
Speeding o’er the breast of our mother
staring’ in the blinding light

Feeling the hum of the Chevy
Passing with the speed of flight
Fleeing o’er the interstate’s belly
Keeled out on the tail of night

Tonight they’ll be sending up rockets
All up and down the interstate
The towns will be blooming with fireworks
My road on independence day

We used to right the lines all night

And go the way the road would take us
From Omaha to Lake of Salt

To the lights of Fabulous Las Vegas

A shining interstate runs through it
Over our mother country’s breast
Fifty thousand miles of hard conduit
Laid down in hard rock, blood and sweat

Someday this road will lead back to you
Drive back to where my heart knows best
Even at the coastline I just keep going, going
Answering the sweet call of the West

See the lone power station
metal palace of a thousand lights
Floating against the sky like a jewel
A beautiful and moving sight

Cool air the crack of the window
Soothing my hot forehead
Smooth like the lips of the lover
Blowing cool breath on my face

Been 10 years since you died out here
The black smoke, your soul’s ascent
Honey I don’t know where you are now
But I’ve been driving ever since

The radio sound at four o clock in the morning
I’m hearing voices that just can’t be there
I heard a country song about an abortion
I heard a preacher say he’s lost his faith

It’s true I drive through some pretty damn dark nights out here
Sometimes I can think myself way down
Sometimes I’m afraid this is a road to nowhere
The whale of night will swallow me right down

But then I see the beginnings of a Great City
Faintest signs of the cool suburban light
Great towers of enterprise rising in the distance
My heart beats quickening at the very sight


Spider Bite
A spider stung me on my wrist one night
As I slept on the Mohave plain
The hairy villain tried to crawl away
I kicked him in the campfire

Sucked all the poison from my punctured skin
Then fell and went to sleep again
And dreamed a picture of my puzzled face
Framed in the window of a leaving train

I woke up sweating on the burning plain
The sun was high up in the sky again
Blanket soaked with sweat and urine stained
A firestorm raging inside my veins

I looked far out into the desert haze
The whole sky bulged with liquid flames
A slender body seemed to float out there
Swaying and writhing like in ecstasy

Her misty ivory skin / and arms stretched out just straight
I stared into here face / but couldn’t find a trace
Of human warmth or pain / written upon that face
But just an insect calm / a cold appraising gaze

Over the chaparral / she floated straight toward me
Soon her fingers reached / and touched my swollen face
And when the venom pain / was softly soothed away
And pulled my eyelids down

That sting hurt all through me
And gave me magic dreams
With colors bright and painful
No one could hear my screams

Collector

​It was a night not unlike this one

In the autumn of aught-four I sat there waiting

The smoky pall of burning leaves

Was hanging in the air around the valley
Sitting in a square of pale moonlight
Drinking fire and breathing cigarillos

I was listening for that night train

To come creeping through the hollows of the valley
I was counting each cold droplet

As it rolled on down my back again and again
'Cause when I heard that old train whistle blow
I thought Maybe this way someone wicked comes

To drag me from my hiding place

And take me back to Mad Town once again

A debt collector from my past

Came riding down the country on the night train
He wore a coal black Stetson hat

His eyes alive and hungry ‘neath the brim
He’d warn the old conductor

Not to stop the train until his destination
He would walk up from the station

And his leather hand would pull me back again
I’d almost managed to forget

The wickedness that brought me to this country
Tried to start a new life, bought some land

And took a young wife, a charade . . .
‘Cause your past is always coming to remind you
Dragging like a torn and filthy wedding dress behind you

Until I drank away the days

Just waiting for that stranger to appear

A debt collector from my past
Came riding down the country on the night train
He wore a coal black Stetson hat
His eyes alive and hungry ‘neath the brim
He’d warn the old conductor
Not to stop the train until his destination
He would walk up from the station
And his leather hand would pull me back again

I was thankful on the day

That the collector came to take me back again



The Judge
The Judge sits peering into the fire
His massive body is pink and pale
Completely nude and devoid of hair
He placed his palms on the rocky ground
This is my claim he said
What else could I call mine?
Yet everywhere there is free-borne life
Alive in pockets upon the earth
Hey says whatever exists exists
Without my knowledge and my consent
This is my claim he said
What else could I call mine?
This is the Judge’s book
And this is his writing hand
Any creature not writ there
Is living on borrowed land
For only nature enslaves a man
And only when each and all of them
Is dragged to daylight and made to stand
In judgment naked beneath the sun
Only then can he be
Properly suzerain
This is the Judge’s book
And this is his writing hand
Any creature not writ there
Is living on borrowed land
And here come the baddest days
Chaos rides upon the land
The day you made his acquaintance

Something was took from you
This is my claim he said
What else could I call mine?
See him dance on tiny feet
Head back and laughing deep
He says he’ll never stop dancing
He says that he never sleeps
This is the Judge’s night
His great dome aglare in light
He says he’ll never stop dancing
Says he will never die

Sleepers
We’ll be marched out to the country

When they come on their day
When they bring the new beginning

The new life, the new faith
There’ll be no one to surrender

No war when they come
They’re already racing through space

Toward Eden to be born
They are coming down by millions
Just like snowflakes on the ocean
Can you feel them touch our deepest place?
Warmth and silence, little sleepers
Keening softly, calling homeward
Waiting for the signal to awake
I was a ragged stranger once but now I’m part of it
I don’t wonder
The days before are a fading memory
Before the dawning of time
(They’ll say)
Don’t waste a moment mourning

The ones who were sent away
Time…began at zero

When the sleepers awoke that day
(I’ll remember)

Sounds of gunfire
Sounds of thunder
Sounds of screaming crowds
Sounds of locusts
When they’ve become us

And we’ve become them
There’s no place to escape



Laughter
I’m lying here in this warm grass for an hour now
The city park in the cool night I lie and wait
Watching the pricks of light shine through the elm leaves up above I feel the Nation of the Insects sing my fate
The coursing of black rubber tires on the highway
The rumble of the coal trains has struck us numb
A voice comes into my air space, is swallowed up again
The beacon light of the airport passes up above
And now the only thing I hear is laughter
Moving in the elm trees all ‘round here
Suddenly all I can hear is laughter, laughter
Roaring in the great halls of my ears
And now the only thing I hear is laughter
From the forest floor through humid air
Peeling off in gales of joy and rising, rising
Moving in the dark night everywhere
And you can find me here tonight and every night
Waiting for you to speak to me again
Tuning in the smallest sounds, as everything else quiets
But all I get is laughter again
From Iowa cornfields to Utah salt flats
From the Texas plains up through the wheat fields quiet
A great electric field hums above it all I feel it
Whispering “All Hail the American Night.”



Raytheon Hymn
I’m on the lawn, my collared green plaid shirt on
Inside the house the walls are blue with Ernie Kovacs on
My small bonfire my papers, my pictures an d diplomas
Something went wrong, tomorrow I’ll be more than gone
Awake all night I drive out to the launch pad
I’ll be 50 miles downrange of base by the time you rise
My back to earth I ride that fiery fountain into endless night
Calling home
Hear me Houston
Sing my song
Sing my love song
You could never see: I’m lost inside this body
From warm green Pasadena to the quiet of deep space
I can stay here, I can vanish, leave my flight suit in the module
Torn apart and burnt alive and disappeared without a trace
Calling home
(I’ve disabled the ignition there’s no chance of coming home)
Hear me Houston
(I’ll never feel the cool touch of your cheek upon my own)
Sing my song
(I’ll never taste our berries and go swimming in the pond)
Sing my love song
(I sit inside the pod and sing the sweet old Raytheon Hymn)
Sing the sweet old Raytheon Hymn



I Saw Myself In a Heavenly Light
Six days will I ever get out of here?
Slow drip, sheets too white
Fake sleep and the howls from the next room
Still can’t escape that sight
I saw myself in a heavenly light
I saw myself in a heavenly light
The evening started in a gas station bathroom
Constant buzzing of fluorescent lights
Pale flower of blood in the hypo
My heart racing as I walk outside
The night I rolled with the 60 La Phantom
Face aglow in the dashboard's pale light
Searched for my bearings in the binnacle mirror
The hot breathe of American midnight
I saw myself in a heavenly light
I saw myself in a heavenly light
I took to driving on the runways at Westerly
My pupils narrowing in the sodium lights
Felt the Le Phantom start to gather its powers
Flights of pylons blurring past on both sides
But something moved out there in the headlamps
A shadow shaping at the boundary of light
A cruel fate was assembling out there
Right before my bloodshot eyes
At once a coyote dived
Born from the dead of night
Then just stood waiting there
In the rush of headlights!
The beast came headfirst in the windshield
Then tearing metal and howl of tyres
The air charged with the thrill of the impact
My body tingles as the car starts fire
Then all the world lapsed into slow motion
Car in a slow roll above the ground
Shattered glass hung in the air like tinsel
And for a moment there was no sound
The earth crashed down like a hammer
Screams swallowed in the night’s great maw
My face a-trembling in the binnacle mirror
And in the mirror this is what I saw
I saw myself in a heavenly light
By freak of fortune I was still alive!
There in the mirror was a stunning sight
I saw myself in a heavenly, heavenly . . .
And now I know His name is alive!
I've heard the voices calling from the sky
He tore my flesh to open up my eyes
I saw myself in a heavenly, heavenly light
I came to twenty-six hours later
Six tubes plugged into my cold veins
My thigh pierced by a stab of a handbrake
And missing some of my best teeth
“Le Phantom” steering wheel brand on my chest wall
Traction bed in white-hot pain
TV gurgling the National Anthem
I was screaming my own name!
Has anybody seen
A boy who looks like me
Out by the ice machines
Or wandering the runways
Or can you hear my calls?
Float through hospital halls?
Or am I smiling in at you from your window?
I saw myself in a heavenly light
By freak of fortune I was still alive!
There in the mirror was a stunning sight
I saw myself in a heavenly, heavenly . . .
And now I know His name is alive!
I've heard the voices calling from the sky
He tore my flesh to open up my eyes
I saw myself in a heavenly, heavenly light