Road (& Off-Road) Stories

New Orleans - March 21, 2020 

All time spent trying to love and trying to love myself, too. Who, you? This whole thing tracing backward, insidious. Will we ever try that restaurant? We? The restaurant? It’s a madhouse double gamble no protection fallout shelter in place bullshit tornado warning. It’s everything I can do to say snap pea, red wagon, arm chair. Where’s Marianne? Get her. Too many books with pages like dominoes falling, dripping like morphine that can't stop the drowning. It’s payday somewhere. Who gets the goat? I get a vent and my singing’s done. Is my singing done? Who’s done and what is done? Let’s really complicate things here. By a show of hands, who gets a vent? I better talk to my God. I better get in line, Pancho. Ay, ay, ay. Simplify the formula, get your milk straight. Dear God, please save us. We watched Titanic and it didn’t end well. Raised on tragedies but somehow snowflakes. Fifteen love. Game’s a sham. That ten dollars in the water, just waiting. I got a hook on a line. I got a hook on a line in my mind. I'll get a hook—let me get a hook. 

New Orleans - March 20, 2020 

i don't know how to tame things, only how to be tame 
and then only sometimes and i'll be the judge of that 
just like you are and just like you 

if i were king i'd say 

get me a sports team 

some on-field drama 
some amazing feat 
some vertical jump 
some questionable move 
to argue with no consequence 

get me a cold beer 

some sun on my skin, some body 
of water, some laughter, 
some story to share 
with no room for gloom 

get me all the distractions, i'd say 
this one and that 

and take away my phone 
take away all the phones, I'd say 

and with one sweep of the scepter 
we'd all go outside and play

New Orleans - March 11, 2020 

words, you old hound 
you silent sound, you crashing wave, 
you fluttering wing, 
you big nose on a face. 
why do you stand out so? 

words, you old cat 
you old hat, you walking cane, 
you gold mine, coal mine 
all dirty and dangerous and gross. 

the ratio wrong, the ration wrong 
too many, too much, yuck 
too little, too few, eew 

when you’re right (alright?) 
words, you mona lisa, 
you flower bud, you wind chime, 
you pyramid, 
you cupcake, you north star, 
you lizard on a leaf 

words, you old god 
you old “with god was god” 

I see you there, 
you old instigator, you.

Appomattox, VA & Morgantown, WV - September 23, 2018 








we hit the road hard bright eyed 

and the weather turned cold and grey 

streaks blurring the glass on the short 

quick drive through farm fields and winding roads 

dotted by historic markers and churches 

we crashed a Pentecostal picnic in the back 

of the store looking for bathrooms 

and brushing on blush near the train 

tracks where Lincoln stood, and the wood 

of the floors giving a rhythm and depth 

that took us past the present and back 

and farther back before propelling us 

back onto the road in the rain up the hill 

behind a black bear bounding 

across the roadway like a beast

magnificent and quick and purposeful 

the deer, too, crossing just ahead of us 

but slower and more suspicious like me 

every passing day and eventually we landed 

at the wood-lined hotel where ghosts 

greeted us skeptically as we got room keys 

from the smiling blonde, god-fearing boy 

kindly cluing us in to the parking etiquette 

of west virginia as we rushed along 

to gig two where the man said wow 

and we didn’t know why, we’d only 

pulled up the van but the warmth 

greeted us like a blanket of low light 

winning us all over in another two hours 

time flying like the bear up the hill 

and then we returned to the ghosts 

who left evidence of their party 

on a dwindling bottle of booze 

so of course spirit jokes and deep 

conversations about love and lust and who 

has what when and break ups always good 

late-night banter with the ghosts in the room 

having a sip and wanting to tell their own 

and doing so once the lights are out 

and the next morning we washed them off 

in the rain at Coopers Rock where the clouds 

misted eyes and skin and leaves turned red 

and two bluejays appeared in a second 

to offer assurances of peace and promise 

before we rounded the corner into Maryland 

and had ourselves a feast

Hillsborough, NC - September 22, 2018 

Eyes on the prize, two hours 
two people, two sets, two tones 
symmetry in two movements 
and such heavy eyes it was carefree comfort 
despite heels that leave you ringing 

the words don’t come tonight 
the feelings too positive 

the lift was from more than the heels 
more than the voice, more than the major lift, 
symmetry in two movements and four voices 
from one bring me home 

how many ways to talk about a good night 
the words don’t come and when do you give up 
and when do you decide what’s worth saying 
leopold, sour cream, sports, nothing 
freedom and its absence

Charlotte, NC - September 21, 2018 

fatigue so full it takes up three paper plates 
a late-night slice making you late to your self 
the one waiting on you to take care 

take care, we say, sure one day 
I’ll sleep when I’m dead 
is also something we say 
carrying us from dreams 
to stage to seat to bed to dreams 

like cattails waving in the wind 
flowers left in a vase and oils 
diffusing in a minivan to keep 
spirits up and away, up and away 
like the stars past the planets 
like the bulbs over the audience 
twinkling, shimmering guitars sliding 
out of silk, stained, a bit bloody 

muddy waters where the stage once was 
a light roux a little rouge a lot of roofs 
with blue tarps back home 13 years ago 
and no one addressed the floods 
I am really sorry about them 

I am really sorry for not taking care 
we gotta go, gotta get back to basics 
goodnight muse, goodnight moon 
goodnight goodnight goodnight

Asheville, NC - September 20, 2018 

archetypes shimmering from black sequins 
spouting slithery serpentine sins hissing fits 
saying all is nothing and nothing is everything 
and I’m like why and why does everything 
have to be a few degrees off and how do 
we leave this place without losing 
too much of ourselves and how do we leave 
without taking too much of you 
burbling babbling stories filled us like liquor 
and here we go trying to have patience 
trying to have babies trying to have a career 
might this fan fall on my head I think 
I oughta shut my eyes and bring the light down 
and what was that did you hear it 
a surround sound shift in energy 
do you hear the ants in the jar lid 
I think they’re trapped I think that’s the point 
now there’s something on my computer 
sliding down the screen it’s really sliding 
where’s my wife seriously where are you lucy 
please say hello cider buffalo walgreens 
anything weird enough to catch my attention 
and make me haul you in I’m so tired 
like a lamppost on the corner of a good night 
watching the moths come and go from the darkness 
shedding light on the cracks in the pavement 
flickering out in the hush before dawn

Isle of Palms, South Carolina - September 19, 2018 

sun flares across the windshield 
smoke and dust kick up 
pirate’s luck and questions like 
where x is on the map or 
where x should be and 
how does x make you feel 

we drew the treasure map 
a spot on wood near waves 
we didn’t see or even hear 
or smell really, blocked by sand 
dollar walls probably 

so much went into the cartography 
the hauling of goods and gear 
and when we set up camp 
I was too tired to hunt treasure 

And yet somehow we found it 
or pieces of it, anyway, washing up 
in the form of squirrel, a free bird, a funny note 
or a ring on the hook 

we woke sweat-soaked 
broke the fever 
a lonely split in the sand 
where treasure once was 
the waves crashing somewhere

Black Mountain, NC - September 17, 2018 

black mountain 
more like black magic
magnet, moon 
half moon 

high noon 
at the okay corral  
a mixed bag, mixed moon 
trail mix trailing 
a Monday moon 

put the moon down 
please, carefully 

pick the sun up 
please, quickly 

we can’t raise it 
by ourselves

Nashville, TN - September 16, 2018 


what are days even odd that they pass like leaves on the ground in a gusty breeze churning eastward was that two days ago or three I honestly can’t recall but I do remember loving the night enough not to leave it for the night I wanted 

and I’m sure I missed greatness like I might miss a train but I saw the lady waiting for the train and that was just as good probably and I’d like to think all the good wasn’t curated but it was hog heaven 

four leaves I took off the ground of my ancestors where they walked some time before they were under it another oh hello but with no answer I did listen and hills like a body subtle and green and welcoming there along big goose creek 

can you tell me something about them what did he run from what did he do it’s always a he almost with the do I can’t blame nelly without information the place rattled us like a ghost in the bedroom all the smoke and mirrors and missing teeth 

hi I’m Mary mother of God she might have been I shook her hand I shook it’s amazing how a smile disarms were they armed or only watching cars like civilized people watching them go round and round and round and round and round and round 

but it’s complicated don’t get all black and white on me when it’s all fucking grey grey is my favorite color really it is I don’t quote songs much I hope I get a dream out of it dixon springs springing I really could go back 

But the scariest thing loomed over the hillside and I’m not sure it wasn’t a dream from start to finish did it open the earth how deep does it go nuclear how big is the word wirt why did he leave I ask before I go to sleep I ask before I leave wirt 

I ask why and when will we be back and what do I say but eight ball corner pocket we might be kin you say but you’re not wirt you’re roger and my questions are still questions growing like the oak over lucy jolley 

and we better leave this now for dreams we better leave this now for we better leave this now for the dreams