On Thursdays the boys played basketball in the church parking lot while Sister Priscilla taught the girls to sew on buttons, stitch hems, iron collars. She’d lean her rigid body to guide my hands at the machine, her cabbage breath lingering as she walked to the next girl. God lingered too. God watched my hands feed the needle blue cloth bits at a time. He watched my mouth, knew where I’d put it next, on the end of a thread before pulling it through the eye. Sometimes I’d imagine hemming my uniform above my knee. Sometimes I’d fake a migraine so I could watch from the attic, the boys with sleeves to their elbows, maybe just down to a T-shirt. I’d watch their bodies sweat in ways I’d only seen at the altar to a song I was singing, my voice inducing a twitch of limbs, a wag of tongue in something we weren’t meant to understand. But God understood. He watched one of those boys sell drugs at gunpoint, watched one marry my sister, then another kiss a baby’s toes. Three years later I’d touch the sweat of one, in the backseat of a Dodge Ram van, windows tinted, skirt pulled up to my waist. God saw the boy lick a silent prayer, saw my back curve in exalt.
Twas a dark day in Dallas, November '63 A day that will live on in infamy President Kennedy was a-ridin’ high Good day to be livin' and a good day to die Being led to the slaughter like a sacrificial lamb He said, "Wait a minute, boys, you know who I am?" "Of course we do. We know who you are." Then they blew off his head while he was still in the car Shot down like a dog in broad daylight Was a matter of timing and the timing was right You got unpaid debts; we've come to collect We're gonna kill you with hatred; without any respect We'll mock you and shock you and we'll put it in your face We've already got someone here to take your place
The day they blew out the brains of the king Thousands were watching; no one saw a thing It happened so quickly, so quick, by surprise Right there in front of everyone's eyes Greatest magic trick ever under the sun Perfectly executed, skillfully done Wolfman, oh wolfman, oh wolfman howl Rub-a-dub-dub, it's a murder most foul
Hush, little children. You'll understand The Beatles are comin'; they're gonna hold your hand Slide down the banister, go get your coat Ferry 'cross the Mersey and go for the throat There's three bums comin' all dressed in rags Pick up the pieces and lower the flags I'm going to Woodstock; it's the Aquarian Age Then I'll go to Altamont and sit near the stage Put your head out the window; let the good times roll There's a party going on behind the Grassy Knoll
Stack up the bricks, pour the cement Don't say Dallas don't love you, Mr. President Put your foot in the tank and step on the gas Try to make it to the triple underpass Blackface singer, whiteface clown Better not show your faces after the sun goes down Up in the red light district, they've got cop on the beat Living in a nightmare on Elm Street
When you're down in Deep Ellum, put your money in your shoe Don't ask what your country can do for you Cash on the ballot, money to burn Dealey Plaza, make left-hand turn I'm going down to the crossroads; gonna flag a ride The place where faith, hope, and charity died Shoot him while he runs, boy. Shoot him while you can See if you can shoot the invisible man Goodbye, Charlie. Goodbye, Uncle Sam Frankly, Miss Scarlett, I don't give a damn
What is the truth, and where did it go? Ask Oswald and Ruby; they oughta know "Shut your mouth," said the wise old owl Business is business, and it's a murder most foul
Tommy, can you hear me? I'm the Acid Queen I'm riding in a long, black limousine Riding in the backseat next to my wife Heading straight on in to the afterlife I'm leaning to the left; got my head in her lap Hold on, I've been led into some kind of a trap Where we ask no quarter, and no quarter do we give We're right down the street from the street where you live They mutilated his body, and they took out his brain What more could they do? They piled on the pain But his soul's not there where it was supposed to be at For the last fifty years they've been searchin' for that
Freedom, oh freedom. Freedom cover me I hate to tell you, mister, but only dead men are free Send me some lovin'; tell me no lies Throw the gun in the gutter and walk on by Wake up, little Susie; let's go for a drive Cross the Trinity River; let's keep hope alive Turn the radio on; don't touch the dials Parkland hospital, only six more miles
You got me dizzy, Miss Lizzy. You filled me with lead That magic bullet of yours has gone to my head I'm just a patsy like Patsy Cline Never shot anyone from in front or behind I've blood in my eye, got blood in my ear I'm never gonna make it to the new frontier Zapruder's film I seen night before Seen it 33 times, maybe more It's vile and deceitful. It's cruel and it's mean Ugliest thing that you ever have seen They killed him once and they killed him twice Killed him like a human sacrifice
The day that they killed him, someone said to me, "Son The age of the Antichrist has only begun." Air Force One coming in through the gate Johnson sworn in at 2:38 Let me know when you decide to thrown in the towel It is what it is, and it's murder most foul
What's new, pussycat? What'd I say? I said the soul of a nation been torn away And it's beginning to go into a slow decay And that it's 36 hours past Judgment Day
Wolfman Jack, speaking in tongues He's going on and on at the top of his lungs Play me a song, Mr. Wolfman Jack Play it for me in my long Cadillac Play me that "Only the Good Die Young" Take me to the place Tom Dooley was hung St. James Infirmary and the Port of King James If you want to remember, you better write down the names Play Etta James, too. Play "I'd Rather Go Blind" Play it for the man with the telepathic mind Play John Lee Hooker. Play "Scratch My Back." Play it for that strip club owner named Jack Guitar Slim going down slow Play it for me and for Marilyn Monroe
Play "Please Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" Play it for the First Lady, she ain't feeling any good Play Don Henley, play Glenn Frey Take it to the limit and let it go by Play it for Karl Wirsum, too Looking far, far away at Down Gallow Avenue Play tragedy, play "Twilight Time" Take me back to Tulsa to the scene of the crime Play another one and "Another One Bites the Dust" Play "The Old Rugged Cross" and "In God We Trust" Ride the pink horse down the long, lonesome road Stand there and wait for his head to explode Play "Mystery Train" for Mr. Mystery The man who fell down dead like a rootless tree Play it for the Reverend; play it for the Pastor Play it for the dog that got no master Play Oscar Peterson. Play Stan Getz Play "Blue Sky"; play Dickey Betts Play Art Pepper, Thelonious Monk Charlie Parker and all that junk All that junk and "All That Jazz" Play something for the Birdman of Alcatraz Play Buster Keaton, play Harold Lloyd Play Bugsy Siegel, play Pretty Boy Floyd Play the numbers, play the odds Play "Cry Me A River" for the Lord of the gods Play Number 9, play Number 6 Play it for Lindsey and Stevie Nicks Play Nat King Cole, play "Nature Boy" Play "Down In The Boondocks" for Terry Malloy Play "It Happened One Night" and "One Night of Sin" There's 12 Million souls that are listening in Play "Merchant of Venice", play "Merchants of Death" Play "Stella by Starlight" for Lady Macbeth
Don't worry, Mr. President. Help's on the way Your brothers are coming; there'll be hell to pay Brothers? What brothers? What's this about hell? Tell them, "We're waiting. Keep coming." We'll get them as well
The field is where his plane touched down But it never did get back up off the ground Was a hard act to follow, second to none They killed him on the altar of the rising sun Play "Misty" for me and "That Old Devil Moon" Play "Anything Goes" and "Memphis in June" Play "Lonely At the Top" and "Lonely Are the Brave" Play it for Houdini spinning around his grave Play Jelly Roll Morton, play "Lucille" Play "Deep In a Dream", and play "Driving Wheel" Play "Moonlight Sonata" in F-sharp And "A Key to the Highway" for the king on the harp Play "Marching Through Georgia" and "Dumbaroton's Drums" Play darkness and death will come when it comes Play "Love Me Or Leave Me" by the great Bud Powell Play "The Blood-stained Banner", play "Murder Most Foul"
We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless As wind in dry grass Or rats' feet over broken glass In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour, Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom Remember us-if at all-not as lost Violent souls, but only As the hollow men The stuffed men.
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams In death's dream kingdom These do not appear: There, the eyes are Sunlight on a broken column There, is a tree swinging And voices are In the wind's singing More distant and more solemn Than a fading star.
Let me be no nearer In death's dream kingdom Let me also wear Such deliberate disguises Rat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves In a field Behaving as the wind behaves No nearer-
Not that final meeting In the twilight kingdom
This is the dead land This is cactus land Here the stone images Are raised, here they receive The supplication of a dead man's hand Under the twinkle of a fading star.
Is it like this In death's other kingdom Waking alone At the hour when we are Trembling with tenderness Lips that would kiss Form prayers to broken stone.
The eyes are not here There are no eyes here In this valley of dying stars In this hollow valley This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places We grope together And avoid speech Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
Sightless, unless The eyes reappear As the perpetual star Multifoliate rose Of death's twilight kingdom The hope only Of empty men.
Here we go round the prickly pear Prickly pear prickly pear Here we go round the prickly pear At five o'clock in the morning.
Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception And the creation Between the emotion And the response Falls the Shadow Life is very long
Between the desire And the spasm Between the potency And the existence Between the essence And the descent Falls the Shadow For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is Life is For Thine is the
This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
Greeting the dawn, A shift of rubber workers presses down South Main. With the stubbornness of muddy water
It dwindles at each cross-line Until you feel the weight of many cars North-bound, and East and West, Absorbing and conveying weariness, — Rumbling over the hills.
Akron, “high place” — A bunch of smoke-ridden hills Among rolling Ohio hills.
The dark-skinned Greeks grin at each other in the streets and alleys. The Greek grins and fights with the Swede, — And the Fjords and the Aegean are remembered.
The plough, the sword, The trowel, — and the monkey wrench! O City, your axles need not the oil of song. I will whisper words to myself And put them in my pockets. I will go and pitch quoits with old men In the dust of a road.
And some of them “will be Americans” , Using the latest ice-box and buying Fords; And others, —
I remember one Sunday noon, Harry and I, “the gentlemen” , — seated around A table of raisin-jack and wine, our host Setting down a glass and saying, —
“One month, — I go back rich. I ride black horse. ... Have many sheep.” And his wife, like a mountain, coming in With four tiny black-eyed girls around her Twinkling like little Christmas trees.
And some Sunday fiddlers, Roumanian business men, Played ragtime and dances before the door, And we overpayed them because we felt like it.
Pull down the hotel counterpane And hitch yourself up to your book. “Full on this casement shone the wintry moon, And threw warm gules on Madeleine’s fair breast, As down she knelt for heaven’s grace and boon...”
“Connais tu le pays...?”
Your mother sang that in a stuffy parlour One summer day in a little town Where you had started to grow. And you were outside as soon as you Could get away from the company To find the only rose on the bush In the front yard. . . . . . .
But look up, Porphyro, — your toes Are ridiculously tapping The spindles at the foot of the bed.
The stars are drowned in a slow rain, And a hash of noises is slung up from the street. You ought, really, to try to sleep, Even though, in this town, poetry’s a Bedroom occupation.
It’s like this, the king marries a commoner, and the populace cheers. She doesn’t even know how to curtsy, but he loves her manners in bed. Why doesn’t the king do what his father did, the king’s mother wonders— those peasant girls brought in through that secret entrance, that’s how a kingdom works best. But marriage! The king’s mother won’t come out of her room, and a strange democracy radiates throughout the land, which causes widespread dreaming, a general hopefulness. This is, of course, how people get hurt, how history gets its ziggy shape. The king locks his wife in the tower because she’s begun to ride her horse far into the woods. How unqueenly to come back to the castle like that, so sweaty and flushed. The only
Our heart wanders lost in the dark woods. Our dream wrestles in the castle of doubt. But there's music in us. Hope is pushed down but the angel flies up again taking us with her. The summer mornings begin inch by inch while we sleep, and walk with us later as long-legged beauty through the dirty streets. It is no surprise that danger and suffering surround us. What astonishes is the singing. We know the horses are there in the dark meadow because we can smell them, can hear them breathing. Our spirit persists like a man struggling through the frozen valley who suddenly smells flowers and realizes the snow is melting out of sight on top of the mountain, knows that spring has begun.
There’s a nudging that a living horse will sometimes extend towards a dead one, a nudging not so much against death – what is knowable to a horse, but not understandable – but against that space right before loneliness settles in for real that horses do, it seems, understand. And so that was the first day. The night was what night always is: a black starfish, black according to some for holiness, to others for the limbs themselves, unfurling as if from long sleep or a late stiffness, or as when a quiet thing, and very still, starts moving, moves, one stiff black limb at a time.