Song For A River


he was the king of the back seat

of drunk reverie

saw him escorted out of a mets game

on network t.v.

kept his head in the clouds

with any cheap high he could cull

in his cancered impala

and his hog shirts

and his head tapes played dull

he lived in a company house

in the pardeesville woods

with a stir crazy dog

and a graveyard of old "jimmy" hoods

sundays we'd run for his stash

at the new york state line

that summer when moments of

circumstance altered like wine


this is for the man

this is for the days that we killed

was it my wind of change

or just a breeze at the top of the hill

he didn't talk the gold ring

he just schemed for a skeleton key

but when you think you met thunder

you only see what your head wants to see

he threw back-mountain parties

five deep at the "well"

with his girlfriend, louise, who'd get lit

and tell us all "go to hell"

then he'd get liquored up

and throw me his keys and yell "drive"

with him and louise in the back

doin' "american pie"

he'd talk of out west over beer

and the garbage that we ate

'bout the punk band he'd managed

in phoenix in '78

i was this kid of sixteen the enamored

impressionable kind

in the poetic pull of the passion

of life with the lines


he just disappeared that mid-august

not even a shout

then i read in the news that september

that his time had run out

how he tried to outrun a state trooper

down 93 south

a charge of possession is why he fled

said word of mouth

the paper said nothin' was left

but the seats and the frame

and i read in the write-up

for the first time his real name;

birthplace unknown, not from nowhere

no close family

just a wild running river

that cut it too fast to the sea

i still raise a glass once a year

on the night that he died

though hindsight says

he only let me believe that we'd ride

lord, he still taps a vein in my mind

like a summer rain cools

long after that river ran dry

and reality ruled