1.      Ruth

 Ruth was married in the days of yore, at the altar made on the threshingfloor

A man said, “Will you take my hand? Will you wear my weddingband?

Will you say you love me evermore?”

Ruth said, “Yes,” even though she wasn’t sure; she knew that men are often insecure

That night they went to bed, when she woke up he was dead

She cursed him for what he’d promised her: he’d said, 

            Whither thou goest, I will go, whither thou lodgest I will lodge

            Thy people shall be my people, thy God my God

            What thou wouldst have me do, I would do

            Where thou diest, there will I also die; when no more tears are left to cry

            Let it ring out through the land, your wish is my command

            Just don’t send me away from you

At the funeral, his mother wept and prayed, then when everyone was gone she stayed

The rain fell lightly down, all was quiet in the town,

Ruth was waiting on her in the glade

When she noticed, Ruth startled and almost fled; but the woman called her to her side instead

She said, “Come be at my side, all my sons have died—

My hopes for going on have turned to lead

“Tell me, what am I supposed to do? If there’s anyone can help me tell me who

Is there anything that rhymes with a grief as deep as mine?

I get older but the pain is always new.”

For a whole week they knealt there without bread, without moving and without sleeping in a bed

And when the eighth day dawned, the woman said to Ruth, “Be gone!

What are you waiting for?” And then Ruth said,



2.      Right Where We Left Off

The last time you left, you told them goodbye

You told them you’d write, or call, or at least try

And they said, alright, they said, all our love,

And when you get back, we’ll pick up right where we left off

Will you remember my name? the way I’ll keep yours

Inside of my heart and soul and my kitchen drawers

Or some other place, somewhere it won’t get lost

So we can pick up right where we left off

 If we could go back, or maybe go on ahead

If I could remember some of those lovely things we said,

Maybe that’d be alright, maybe that’d be enough

Maybe then we could pick up right where we left off

I wish I could fly, I wish I could swim

I wish I could do any of those things that remind me of him

I wish they’d come back at whatever the cost

I wish I could pick up right where we left off

Maybe there’d be a way, through some kind of grace

Where I could hold on to a light in this pointless chase

Where everything’d freeze every time you said ‘stop,’

Where we could pick up right where we left off

We’ll bust into that room, we’ll go back in time

We’ll show ourselves to ourselves and we’ll tell em everything’s gonna be just fine

And the record will play and the sound will be soft

And then we’ll pick up right where we left off

 Just like turning a page to write the next line

Or saving a word so you’ll have something to say next time

You got to hold on, there will be no pause

And then we’ll pick up right where we left off


3.      If They Could Only See Us Now

My love sends me roses cause she knows I’m allergic

She pulls off the petals and marks the box ‘urgent’

Then she stands in the doorway and makes no disturbance

Even the light seems to soften for her

 She used to come closer we used to be gentle

To say how I loved her was unsentimental

And everyone said we had so much potential

But nobody knew how unhappy we were

 I used to get sore about breaking a promise

I didn’t want love if it couldn’t be honest

But of all my regrets I’d have to say that the fondest

Is that I will never forget you again

You were the deathbed and I was the funeral

You were a number and I was a numeral

I never thought once to think that unusual

Until I thought it over and over again

            And now that I have the advantage of hindsight

            And all of my life has been cast in the limelight

            I can see I was wrong but don’t know how to make right

            All of the troubles you wear on your brow

            If only I could endure what I’m made of

            If I could explain what I was afraid of

                        Maybe that’d be enough to complete us

                        To hear from those who know that they need us

                        Just what they would think if they could only see us now

Sometimes the day feels like a tedious project

A striving one tries for without any object

Without even laws or so much as a precept

To steer you or guide you or lead you back home

You have to make do with what you’ve been given

Say that you meant to be where you were driven

Pretend you’re content with the life that you’re living

And maybe they’ll promise to leave you alone

 You said you were sick and I hoped you’d get better

I wrote you a song in the form of a letter

And your father wrote back and said, You’d better forget her

Whoever this is that you think that you are

I thought what’s forbidden was all that’s worth loving

I thought he was kidding, didn’t know he was bluffing

You take the long shot and you’ll end up with nothing

His postscript I kept like the pain of a scar

            But after a while I spose you get used to

            Knowing the things that used to confuse you

            And even the habits to which they introduced you

            Begin to seem like you need them somehow

             If only I had a little more imagination

            If I could withstand any duller sensation

                        Or maybe if they would only heed us

                        Whenever we told them to please believe us

                        Perhaps they would hear if they could only see us now

 The anguish pours out in a language of nonsense

The present and future are both in the past tense

And history sits on the rim of a sequence

It cannot acknowledge and will not restart

What is the point though, of making distinctions?

Between an injustice and just an extinction

There’s only a ballet of juxtapositions

And all of the dancers are moving apart

The prophets are drafting their new manifestos

Leaving them published in coffeeshop windows

And sprayed on the backsides of boxcars whose cargoes

Are headed for a junkyard outside of Tucson

Musicians are musing composing their movements

Jesters suggesting digestive amusements

To nobles bequeathing their thrones to a nuisance

Who will sell his own birthright before he moves on

            And when it comes down to the easiest option

            To simply proceed without care or precaution

            To throw up your hands at the back of the auction

            And say that you’ll pay it back some day somehow

            Will you remind me of the original prices

            We paid to be left to our own devices

                        They said not to snap at the hands that feed us

                        Sometimes I wonder how they would treat us

                        And what they would think if they could only see us now

She never wore cotton she always wore satin

When I first met her, she only spoke latin

And she made me promise to let nothing happen

I couldn’t undo or take back if I did

You’ve taken advice from your supposed superiors

Whose practiced experience would not stoop to hear yours

You’ve learned every inch of all the interiors

But your nakedness somehow remains rather well hid

I lived for a year as the ghost of an attic

Seeking a way that was more democratic

Screaming lost verbs in a downpour of static

Beneath a large hole I had carved in the roof

And then I awoke as from a terrible nightmare

Groping the darkness and tangled in your hair

Murmuring echoes I recall reading somewhere

That was about when I parted with Truth

            As the voices of angels surround the cathedrals

            And stand with the peasants who begin the upheavals

            And teach it was goods that gave birth to the evils

            With which we’ve been dealing our whole lives til now

            Will you recall why it was that we came here

            And what we are doing inside this container

                        What were the words we were told that would ease us

                        Angel, joseph, mary, jesus,

                        What would they think if they could only see us now?


4.      Rip Van Winkle’s Blues (I’m Tired)

My baby called me up lastnight, asked me if I felt alright

I said I’m okay, she said, alright, I’ll be there in an hour

She picked me up and took me to, every bar along the avenue

I tried to say when I was through, but it wasn’t in my power

By the time the morning rolled around it seemed we’d been through half the town

I drunk so much I thought I’d drown if I didn’t die of thirst

She looked at me said aint this fun, and to think the weekend’s just begun

I said, now wait just a minute, hon, I got to break it to you first

            Now I don’t know what you’re taking that keeps you going like you been

            Coffee, cocaine, benzadrine or some amphetamine

            But my energy is finite and it’s darn well near expired

            And you know I hate to tell you, but my darling, I am tired

Next morning she’s as good as new, got ten thousand new things to do

And every one she puts me through like it’s a test for me

Wants to run a race and ride her bike, swim cross the river and take a hike

And everything she says it like its as easy as can be

Politely, I try to suggest that maybe we could just take a rest

Stop a while and catch our breath, or take a nap, at least

I just need a place to rest my head, don’t even need to be a bed

Just dig a hole and call me dead, but let me rest in peace

            Now I ain’t exactly lazy and in fact I work quite hard

            I’m out of bed fore sunrise and I come home well past dark

            I’m in debt up to my eyeballs and I’ll never be retired

            But I ain’t exactly kidding when I tell you I am tired

We made it home at half past three and right as I’m about to fall asleep

My babe says babe make love to me, and how could I refuse

We made it til the sun was high and the time for sleep had passed us by

I felt like I was gonna die if I didn’t cut her loose

So I got dressed she said, What’s wrong, I said, I gotta be a getting on

She said, Wait, I said, So long, and climbed down from her arms

She said don’t you care for me? I said, I do, but can’t you see

Exhaustion, it breeds apathy, and your love’s bound to do me harm

            Now I’m tired of the homestead and I’m tired of the road

            And I’m so tired of being tired I’m just about a ready to explode

            Just a quiet place and darkness is all that I desired

            From the moment that I met you all I been is well past tired

Well, when I finally got a chance to sleep, I slept quite fast and hard and deep

Never mind the counting sheep, I just went out like a light

I slept for days and weeks and months, slept through my birthday more than once

I slept through all the arguments I might’ve had to fight

Through earthquake fire flood and more, everything come knocking at my door

I slept right through the third world war and woke up all alone

I wandered through abandoned scenes in a vacant town among my dreams

To an empty port where a shanty leans and nobody is home

            Now if anyone can hear me, if there’s anybody left

            That ain’t packed up in a graveyard waiting for a rest

            I used to be so tired, but to sleep was my mistake—

            If I could do it all again I’d wish for strength to stay awake


5.      My Love, She Approaches

Yonder she walks overtop of the rocks,

and every so often she thoughtfully stops

To untie her shoes, and to pull off her socks

Her beauty abounds beyond measure; I cannot handle the pressure

            For even if somehow I

            Could but capture her eye

            And only to tell her, “I’m sorry—goodbye,”

                        There’d still be no way

                        for to stand or to stay

            For I’d not know what name by

which she goes to address her

She carries her clothes and the wind her hair blows

And the ocean beside her it ebbs and it flows

Erasing her footprints and kissing her toes

As she tenderly wades through the mosses; she don’t know the pain that she causes

            For even if I was sure

            Of the sly conjecture

            That what I feel for her is love, plain and pure

                        I’d still have to start

                        With a half-broken heart

            That hopes, bears, believes and endures

Despite how all of its gains become losses

Beneath the salt-waves, her fair body she bathes

And the seagulls above her observe her charades

Strongly she swims, to dive deeply, she saves

In her lungs, all the air she can gather; that it won’t last for long doesn’t matter

            For even if I could change

            Or only just rearrange

            The conditions by which I’m made free in my chains

                        She still would beseech

                        Me and be out of reach

            Of the arms that when she was in range

Could’ve swore that they had her

From the watery deep she sings me to sleep

And slowly become I her question to keep

In my dreams she accosts me and asks me to speak

From inside the bounds of her clutches, she tells me to walk without crutches

            And tho I’m to blame

            For remaining the same

            Despite and because of the size of the pain

                        She still won’t relent

                        Won’t requite or resent

            And you can’t quite prevent how insane

She turns everyone that she touches


6.      She With the Million Names

You can stay in the stable, Cain, if you are able

And if you ain’t ready I’m sure that she’ll understand

She loves them all equal, the strong and the feeble

But you know to a new friend she prefers second-hands

Her heart it is golden and her fingers are porcelain

And her hair ravenblack flows as long as her veins

You can borrow a dollar and from the fence you can call her

By any one of her ten-thousand-twenty-two names

            When the time comes to leave her, she will ask you to stay

            And you’ll have to be honest, and just say you ain’t strong

            Course I hope that you’re smarter than to put it that way

            But whatever you tell her, you can’t make it too long

She’ll sit in the chapel and chew on her apple

That somebody gave her, she didn’t see who

If you ask where it came from she’ll ask “Why, do you want some?

For the life of me, sweetheart, I thought it was you.”

She lives in the country midst pastures of plenty

Where the wheat bravely staggers and the rye gently blows

When she needs a diversion she’ll make an excursion

To a place in the forest where nobody goes

            When you come to a clearing she will tell you to halt

            And you’ll have to be honest and say you’re really surprised

            And while you make your excuses and say it wasn’t your fault

            Best be sure that you’re speaking with tears in your eyes

Far from the centers she exits and enters

And stealthily glides midst the unnoticed crowds

You can follow her shadow, pretending she had no

Reason for drawing you underneath of her cloud

She’s cold as a crystal and she carries a pistol

That carries six bullets she fires at will

When she blows you her kisses, know that she never misses

And you’d already be dead if just lookin could kill

            When she tells you her story and it runs your frame cold

            Well, you’ll have to be honest and just say what you thought

            Tho she’s only a child, she’s already too old

            To remember that all that she knows she’s been taught

The district attorney made a hell of a journey

One midsummer’s Sunday at the end of july

Even pulled by a bloodhound there was nothing to be found

In the end he just told her he only came to say hi

Several months later in the onset of winter

When the lakewater surface had but frozen part way

A man was out huntin and he stumbled on something

That made him feel that he’d seen enough blood for one day

            When they came to arrest her with their shotguns unsheathed

            Crying “Keep your eyes careful, boys, she needs to be watched,”

            She came out on the porch and said, “Will you poor bastards, please,

            Say what you think you could take from me I ain’t already lost?”

You don’t have to sell it but that’s how they tell it

Hithers her homestead and yonders her grave

You could put up a statue, a figure of virtue

And Adonis-madonna for all the damn that she gave

Born to an orphan who was born to an orphan

In east Oklahoma where she lived till she died

Late Christmas evening, the year 1919

Died the twentyfirst of April 1935


7.      The Ballad of Abraham and Isaac

God called to Abraham, said “Abraham, my son,”

Abraham said, “Here I am—what is it you want done?”

Said, “Abraham, the time has come, go and get me your dearest son, And by tomorrow’s setting sun—

I want you to offer him up to me.”

Well Abraham he went on home, and he sat down to his supper

Sarah asked him what he’d done, as he looked so pale and sober

He said, “I’ve done nothing, that’s just it, I must be dreaming or getting sick I think I just need to lie down quick!”

And he got up from the table

That night he did not sleep a wink, but he lay in his bed tryin

The only thoughts that he could think, were of his young son’s lonesome dyin

For his life he couldn’t understand why it had to be by his own hand, why this had been his Lord’s command—

He couldn’t think of any reason

Next morning, early, he arose—well before the sun had risen

Put on his hat and his morning clothes—brought along a knapsack with him

Then he stole into Isaac’s room, Brought him out beneath the moon And like a corpse, fresh for the tomb--

Isaac went on sleepin

 “Lord,” he said, “I’m beggin you—if ever you’ve been with me

For what I am about to do, I hope you will forgive me,”

Then Isaac, who had just woke up Said, “Forgive you, father? But for what?” He said, “Son, you know I’d tell you but—

Myself, I do not know yet.”

Then Abraham he told his son of a journey he was makin

He said “If you choose I’ll let you come, but it has no destination

Bring up a mule and pack a tent, A rope, some tinder and some flint,” And obediently, Isaac went—

To do as he was bidden

 Then Abraham to Isaac called, “Isaac my dear son,”

Isaac answered, “Here I am—what is it you want done?”

He said, “Isaac, now the time has come Go and get me my Remington, the very best of all my guns—

And offer it up to me.”

 Well the rode until their shadows grew much taller than their figures

The frigid autumn evening blew the leaves against dead fixtures

And when the sky had turned to red Abraham to Isaac turned his head “Gather up some wood,” he said

“Here’s where we’ll build the altar.”

 “What will be our offering?” Isaac asked unto his father

“A lamb to kill we didn’t bring.” Abe said, “We needn’t bother,

What we brought will be just fine, Now hurry up, there ain’t much time,” And while Isaac went for some wood to find—

Abe loaded up his rifle

 Isaac left and then came running back, crying, “Father! Please come quickly,

I’ve spied a deer in a bramble patch—he’s caught up well and thickly,”

Abraham said, “Show me where,” Isaac took him, said “Right there,” And sure enough, within a snare—

A healthy deer was struggling.

 Abraham said, “Lord, my God—if ever you’ve been with me

For what I am about to do, I hope you will forgive me

I don’t pretend to understand Why you gave me that command But if I do or don’t I’m damned—

This is my situation.”

 And sayin that he raised his gun and laid his cheek against the barrel

In his range were both his dearest son and the deer so wild and feral

For a moment he observed the scene Like a man who can’t decide between Who needs someone to intervene—

To make his decision for him.

 But from the sky no angel came to stay his quaking finger

No spirit Abraham could name brought his hot hand to the trigger

And midst the depths of his deepest doubt “Shoot, father!” Isaac shouted out And from the woods one shot rang out—

Followed closely by another.

 And whether he first shot the deer, thinking that would be sufficient

And afterwards shot the boy when he realized that it wasn’t

Or whether he first killed his son, then himself when he realized what he’d done Or fired twice at the setting sun—

To this day, there is no telling.


8.      Somewhere Else

The kettle is screaming from its place on the stove

Still dark but it’s morning, Mary’s in her bathrobe

Those boys better wake up, she says to herself

But she knows they ain’t sleeping—no, they’re somewhere else


She pours out the coffee, and she throws on a quilt

Steps out on the front porch that her late husband built

And as she stares at the ocean, she recalls how she felt

To be a young woman who longed to be somewhere else


But she’d married a sailor who’d married the sea

And she’d borne him three children uncomplainingly

And whenever they took sick she’d nurse them right back to health

By feeding them stories about somewhere else


Then one day in November, her husband called All Aboard

For the very last time and was lost overboard

They brought her his jacket, his boots and his belt

Said, “He might not be drowned, ma’am, might just be somewhere else.”


For ten days they waited, then they waited ten more

For his body or his clothing to wash up on shore

But it only got colder and the ice wouldn’t melt

So they finally concluded he was just somewhere else


And her boys grew to manhood—tho much to her dismay

And despite how she urged them, they took up the old trade

First was lost near Tahiti, the second drowned way down south

The third his brothers went seeking, and wound up somewhere else


They say not to lose hope, they say not to despair

Just because they don’t come back don’t mean they ain’t there

They say to have courage, you know but it hardly helps

When your heart is in one place and your love’s somewhere else


The ships have come back now, they’re moored at the pier

And the sailors are drunk now, on their whiskey and beer

And upon barroom counters captains divvy their wealth

But the wives and the widows, aw, they’re somewhere else


The Lord he may giveth and he may taketh away

But if you need a good reason, the Bible won’t say

And as she blows out her candle, and puts the book on the shelf

She thinks, “If God’s in his heaven, I must be somewhere else.


9.      Taxi Lady

 Taxi lady, tell me where to—can I take you long the avenue?

You still lookin for that prince you said you knew? And does he still have your other shoe?

Taxi lady, I guess it’s been a while—I’m glad to see tho that you still ain’t lost your style

But say what happened to your winning smile? It used to be worth more than just a mile

Taxi lady, how’d you get to be so sad—you look just like you lost whatever chance you had

But nevermind you’ll see it ain’t that bad, once you’ve had a ride in my good ol taxi cab

 Taxi lady, won’t you tell me what you want, expensive dinner at some four star restaurant?

To spend a whole night at the hotel Altamont? You name the date and I can take you if you want

Taxi lady, can I take you for a ride, up to the highway or the lonesome riverside

You seem like the kind of girl with nothing left to hide, I’m the kind of man with nothing left inside

Taxi lady, tell me where you’re comin from, it’s so cold tonight my hands are getting numb

I can’t tell you how many miles I’ve just come, not to get to you but just to anyone

            At the next stop take a right, then go down there right on through that trafficlight

            You can circle the block a couple times it’s alright, but taxi, take me home tonight

Taxi lady, well, now that you asked, I got lots of troubles all up buried in my past

I try to get away but this taxi ain’t too fast, seems like some of what is there is there to last

Taxi lady tell me how you been, you know I haven’t always driven this machine

I used to have a job I wrote songs for a queen, it was a lot like this if you know what I mean

Taxi lady, keep your change this one’s on me, you find me again and you can always ride for free

I ain’t scared of having no place to be, I’m just afraid of having no one to take with me

Taxi lady won’t you take the whole night off, we’ll go wherever you can possibly think of

And if by the end you still ain’t had enough I got a bottle waiting back in the garage

Taxi lady tell me what you got to lose, another evening settin at home with the blues

This ain’t no limosine but it’ll do for just a cruise, down past the marquis and the crowded avenues

Taxi lady, say again where do you live, I hope it ain’t among that crowd I seen you with

Don’t say you’re sorry I don’t know what that is, I’m one of those whose done too much sinning to forgive


Taxi lady, will you ever find your prince? I heard he lives up in those project tenements

You know I barely make enough to pay my rents, but I don’t want your money, I’ll just take your compliments

Taxi lady, how bout some other night, we’ll get together, we’ll do it right

Give me a signal but please make it bright; you put out your hand and I’ll put out my light

Taxi lady, I must bid thee now, adieu; I feel somehow that our acquaintanceship ain’t thru

I can’t tell you who to be or what to do, but there’s a thousand more out here tonight like you


10.  Grandma’s Famous Chicken Noodle Soup

Well I went to visit grandma just the other week,

she seemed so glad to see me doin well

She didn’t look so bad herself for a woman of her age,

that she was almost 93 you’d never tell

Well we got to catchin up a bit as it had been a little while,

granny said she’d done a bit of traveling of late

I figured she meant around the house or down the road a little ways—

that was my first mistake

Said she’d been all over Europe, all through England and through France,

said she’d swam across the Adriatic sea

Then she came back to the United States and she visited each one,

and then got home just in time for hostin me

well every story that granny told me seemed a little more surprising than the last

til finally I had to interrupt her at some length

I said, Granny, I believe you, but I just have to ask

What is the secret to your strength?

She said, “Aw, well that’s an easy one, you know I always watch my weight

And I’ve always kept my posture good so that I wouldn’t stoop

I take vitamins and exercise and every day I have one bowl

Of grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup”

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            It’ll cure blindness! It’ll make you whoop (Wahoo!)

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            Why, it’ll almost make you young again

Now I must say when granny said all this my curiosity was aroused,

I said, Now of what does this here said soup consist?

Before she even answered me she said, “Would you like a taste of some?”

I shrugged and said, “Well, if you insist.”

Then she went over to the fridge and she pulled out a great big pot

That looked to be leftovers from the latest batch

And takin off the lid she exclaimed, “Darn—fresh out!

Not to worry though, we’ll just start again from scratch!”

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            It’ll cure baldness! It’ll make you whoop (Wahoo!)

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            Why, it’ll almost make you young again

Well the first thing that she did was bring some water to a boil

Added salt and pepper and vinegar and a little gin

In another pan she heated up a little bit of olive oil

Then she cut up an onion and some veggies and threw em in

Then while all of that was cookin she went out into the yard

Told me to keep an eye on that there bubbling broth

She came back in with a live hen, tossed it whole into the pot

Didn’t even kill it first or take it’s feathers off

And before I could object, she had left the room again,

Went and gathered every soiled bedsheet in her home

And when all the laundry was collected she nonchalantly stirred it in

Said, “It’s like killing two birds with one stone!”

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            It’ll cure arthritis! It’ll make you whoop! (Wahoo!)

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            Why, it’ll almost make you young again!

Well, when she had taken out her laundry and had hung it out to dry,

She said, and now we’ll add the noodles to the mix

But upon inspection of her pantry, not a morsel caught my eye

Granny looked and said, “Well aw—fiddlesticks!”

Then a look came over granny that was at first desperate and then fierce

Then she snapped her fingers and said she knew just the thing

She said, “Well you’ve got shoes on,” I said, “Yes, and what of that?”

She said, “Well—get em off! We need them strings!”

             Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            It’ll take the paint off—it’ll make you whoop (Wahoo!)

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            Why it’ll almost make you young again!

 Well when everything was in there and it had simmered for a while,

Granny stirred it up and said it was almost done

Then she got me out a bowl and she got me out a spoon

And said, “I’ll bet you just can’t wait to try you some,”

 Now I’ve never been a one to treat my elders with disrespect

And I’ve never been one to deliberately seem rude

But after seeing what I had of those ingredients and all,

I should have hesitated to call what that was food

So I said, Granny, I’m obliged, but I think I’m gonna pass,

She said, “Now, I don’t want to hear none of that there lip!”

She ladeled me a bowl and set it down and crossed her arms

I gulped and shut my eyes and took a sip of

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            It’ll clean you out—it’ll make you whoop! (Wahoo!)

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            Why, it’ll almost make you young again

Well the next thing that I knew I was passed out cold upon the floor

Granny was standing over me, saying, “Do you know where you are?”

I said, “Go and get a doctor,” but she had no phone or car,

And so she carried me all the way to the E.R.

Few days later I was better all laid up in my hospital bed,

The doctor said he’d never seen a case so bad

He said, “I mean it’s like you were poisoned or something!” I said, “Yeah, pretty much,”

He said, “Do you know what you ate?” I said, “All I had was

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            It’ll give you courage—it’ll make you whoop!

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            Why it’ll almost make you young again!

Well granny came to see me later on that afternoon

Brought me some flowers and some home-made medicine

She said, “I have no idea how you got so sick, but this here will cure you sure!”

I rolled my eyes, and said, “Here we go again—”

            Grandmas’ famous chicken noodle soup

            Some say it’s a blessing, some say it’s a curse

            Grandma’s famous chicken noodle soup

            It’ll cure you—if it doesn’t kill you first!


11.  Ain’t No Friend of Mine

 Well when I was a much younger man I traveled all through this here land

From up around the new England parts to down where the land called Mexico starts

And in between there I visited a lot of places, shook a lot of hands, saw a lot of faces

I got pretty close to some things you wouldn’t want to go near, I heard some things you’d probably not want to hear

But of all the towns that I can recollect now there’s one I remember being different somehow

Cause there was this man, I don’t guess you’d doubt it, he did this thing, well let me tell you about it:

Well, it was a midsummer’s evening if I remember right, I’s hunting up a place where I could stay the night

And I came on a crossroads about a quarter past seven, only thing there’s a hotel and a tavern

Well the door was open, and there was a candle burning, it wasn’t anything too fancy or nothing

But it looked like a place you might get a drink, have a spot to sit and some time to think

So I go on in, I’m the only one there, except for the bartender of course and two other guys there

And they was rough old boys, you should’ve seen em, so I go on up sit down in between em

I say, “Busy night?” No one laughs; tender comes over he’s wiping a glass

He says, “I never seen you in here before,” I said, “That’s cause I never been in here before,”

He says, “Where you from?” I say, “Nowhere special,” he says, “Passin through, eh? Right on schedule…”

Well, we talked that way for a little while, neither one of the other two even crackin a smile

Finally the bartender tells me that I look thirsty, I say, “Thanks, friend, I ain’t had a drink since Thursday,”

So he pours me a beer, I thank him for the service, he says, “You alright, man? You seem kinda nervous…”

Well I guess I must’ve been moving my eyes back and forth betwixt these two other guys

So I say, “What’s the story with these two fellas?” Tender perks up, says “Well, let me tell you

“The man to your right is a righteous man, man I’d trust about as far as I can

He doesn’t say much that ain’t worth saying, but a word from him is a word worth saving

The man to your left’s a whole other story, belongs to his very own category

I don’t guess there’s much that man ain’t said, gainst friend or enemy, livin or dead—”

As soon as he says that this bottle comes flying, the tender ducks and it breaks behind him

One of em threw it I couldn’t tell which, and then the other one called him an old son of a bitch

Then he says, “You wanna see something really funny?” I said “That all depends, what’ll it cost me?”

He says, “Nothin, just a minute of your time,” I say, “Alright, well that ought to be just fine,”

He says, “Ask this fine young handsome gentleman,” and he’s pointing to the guy standing right across from him,

He says, “Ask him to tell you about that other fella, the one there sittin on the other side of ya,”

So I say, “Why? What for?  What’ll happen?” he says, “Nothing probably,” and he starts laughin

I say, “I don’t get it,” he says, “Well I can see I’m borin ya, just don’t try telling me that I didn’t warn ya

And then the phone rings and he walks off somewhere…


So for a minute I paused, I just sat there drinkin, nobody’s talking and so I started thinking

I mean, what in the heck could be so hilarious about these two fellas, he can’t be serious

So I’m drinking, feeling a buzz, I ask the man to my right what his name was

He says “I’m Jake,” I said, “And who’s your brother?” He says, “For that you’re gonna have to ask my mother,”

I said, “Alright, and where’s she?” he says he doesn’t know, points down the bar, says “My brother might, though,”

I said, “Alright, well this is getting exhausting,” So I go up to his brother and I practically accost him,

I say, “Howdy friend, putter there! Now what can you tell me bout that man down there?”

Well he shrugs some, and turns his back, he’s pouring out shots, knockin em back

So I try again, I always been persistent, he resists me again, like he’s all against it

Finally the tender calls out, “Naw man, you can’t force it!—I know he drinks it faster than he pours it

But you just let him finish that there swaller, and you’ll see, he’ll begin to holler—”

Sure enough, no sooner had he set down his glass, he says: “Alright, I’ll tell you, but just cause you asked:

He’s a no good long haired dirty yella double crossin son of a low-down lyin cheatin stealin rank-smellin onion-peeling lazy inbred foulmouthed grassfed ugly useless two-bit unread urine-drinkin whistle-blowin storytelling feces-throwin draft-dodgin muck-rackin unamusing ambulance-chasin money-grubbin motherlovin counterfeittin good-for-nothin unmannered lame bland inconsiderate stupid selfish weak illiterate helpless hopeless heartless desperate—hang on a minute, now, I ain’t done yet—measly little sneaky snivelin treacherous leacherous daughter-diddlin cold-blooded back-stabbin two-faced disgraced carpet-baggin unenlightened foolish misanthropic uncreative oafish idiotic brown nosin bootlicking fingerpointin ass-kissin needy greedy angry jealous underhanded sideways overzealous dishonest careless gross disgustin, disgraceful hateful enemy-trustin beer-bellied knock-kneed sorry excuse for a cross-eyed hook-nosed snaggly toothed pigeon-livered humpbacked chicken-hearted don’t even go a getting me started, he’s a genuine trash-feedin lower-than-bottom-dwelling fun spoilin trouser soilin door-to-door-insurance-sellin bootlegging egglayin naysaying no-payin spit-sprayin belly-achin windbreakin time-wastin unreliable ruthless unrelenting freeloadin freedom-hatin, not to mention he’s a card-carryin, proselytizing, sister-marryin fascist-sympathizin—

And he aint no friend of mine, no, he ain’t no friend of mine

            He may be a one of a kind, but he ain’t no friend of mine

            He aint no friend of mine, no, he aint no friend of mine

            He may be my brother, but he ain’t no friend of mine