Tag Archives: memories

The Songs That Filled My Boyhood

The songs that filled my boyhood time are gone,
their melodies have faded with the years;
and all my vain attempts to sing along
have left only their skeletons, and tears.

Mere shadows take their place, as mummers’ tunes,
their substance lost to darkness and neglect;
and now, like worn-down tracings on old runes,
they hide their meaning and demand respect.

You hear their traces, sometimes, on the wind,
or in an imitation from a bird,
and then some noise intrudes and once again
they fade. To chase them thither seems absurd.

What songs are these that so enthralled a boy?
The anthems of a world embracing joy.

05 APR 2006

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That Reminds Me

It doesn’t take much to remind me:
a trace of perfume in the air
lipstick stains on a cigarette butt burning there
as much as I tell myself that I don’t care
no use lingering on
these things now that she’s gone.

But sometimes late at night
when the traffic is light
and the hum of the AC goes off
with a cough,
I can hear her soft breathing
beside me, believing
forever’s down payment
will carry us through;
what’s the use?

in this lifetime we hadn’t much chance
to grow old together,
in deeper romance.

And the seeds that we buried
will all turn to plants
in another man’s garden,
another man’s dance will be
with her tomorrow;
the joy and the sorrow
we shared and were spared
linger on in the air,
and despite my pretending
that I just don’t care
one trace of her perfume, the scent of her hair
or the sight of a cigarette just burning there
still reminds me.

27 NOV 2005

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Blame It On Your Memory

I know it’s late and you told me you don’t want me coming ’round
But I was in the neighborhood and on my way downtown
Thought you’d like to know I saw your memory yesterday
He told me to look you up before he’d go away

I know that we both agreed we’d be better off as friends
But memory got the best of me and brought me ’round again
You don’t have to say you love me and I’ll try not to care
We’ll just look up our old heartache and see who’s living there

Ain’t no use pretending that all the feeling’s gone
But we can’t stop the burning of this bridge we’re standing on
Just tell me you don’t wonder sometimes when you’re all alone
And I’ll tell your old memory to take my heart back home.

I know it’s late
but I was thinking that you might want to see me
We could walk right up the street and drink to memory
Thought you might like someone who knew how to have a time
If memory serves me well, I know your favorite brand of wine

It’s thin ice that we’re walking on, but it will turn out right
Besides, your memory wouldn’t let me stay away tonight
You don’t have to call me darling, and I’ll try not to stare
We’ll just look up that old heartache, and see who’s living there

Ain’t no use pretending that all the feeling’s gone
But we can’t stop the burning of this bridge we’re standing on
Just tell me you don’t wonder sometimes when you’re all alone
And I’ll tell your old memory to take my heart back home.

1997

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No Surprise At All

She said that she was longing for the life that she once had
The changes they were coming fast, and some of them were bad
Said she could not believe it
Maybe she was going mad

And I saw just what was happening
And I wasn’t much surprised
That the laughter was now missing from her eyes
No, it was not much surprise I felt at all
More like autumn blues when leaves begin to fall

She said she wanted happiness and things as they had been
For life had started laughing and the joke was quite obscene
I shook my head and tried to say
I know just what you mean

For I saw the road she’d taken
And I wasn’t much surprised
That the laughter was now missing from her eyes
No, it was not much surprise I felt just then
More like longing for the wisps of might have been

She spoke of that long trip she made somewhere into the East
And the times she spent in turmoil wrestling her inner beasts
And of all the men that failed her: businessmen, and clowns and priests
And I wasn’t much surprised, not in the least

She said she wanted more to life than memories that fade
For going through the motions seemed like such a sad charade
Said she felt like an old record
That was scratched and overplayed

And I noticed what was happening
And wasn’t much surprised
That the happiness was missing from her eyes
No, it was not much surprise I felt at all
These things happen when your past decides to call.

1988

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The Dogwood

She with fond memories of elders now gone,
& I with my own youth to call back to mind,
bought a ten gallon dogwood last year, late in spring
(& though maybe later than some would advise
for a tree that the hot summer’s swelter might fry,
we thought of it grown and the flowers in bloom
& risked all & planted it one afternoon).

We nursed it with water through many dry days
& watched it grow parched & its leaves curl
(until late November, when those leaves were lost
& the ground turned to stone in the grip of the frost).

Now, one short year later, our still watchful eyes
watch the new shoots come from its dormant limbs;
The leaves are unwinding & stretched to the sun,
its roots well established and firm in the ground.
The young tree we planted to grow, with our love,
has passed through the seasons still vibrant and whole;

And we two? Also thriving, and counting the ways
that the universe joining us here deserves praise.

29 MAR 2004

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Half Way Home

My last post about the hurricanes reminded me of a song that I wrote back when I was in what I might call my Kris Kristofferson phase. I was outlaw country, I guess, and had a lot of friends who were bikers and truck drivers. At the same time, my grandmother was suffering greatly from Alzheimer’s and the way that it affected her mind and robbed her of her memories really had a profound impact on me.

In the spoken intro to the demo version of this song there’s little spoken word thing … “I started out writing this song for older people, who start losing track of things, their memories … and then I thought it was perhaps about young people, some of them friends of mine, who experimented with one thing or another and didn’t make it all the way back from wherever it was they had gotten themselves to…”

At some point, I really considered trying to get Merle Haggard or David Allan Coe to record this.

The shadow on the road is getting longer
And the moonlight just won’t help me find my way
Silence on the radio and it is growing stronger
3 a.m. and no more songs to play

Been down this road so often in the springtime
But the winter hides my memory locked in chains
And the road rolls ‘neath my wheels like some old sweet rhyme
When the words are gone, just melody remains

I’ve tried to make it back to you one more time
But the road is now a lost trail that I roam
So fare thee well, for I can’t tell
The highway from the chrome
Guess I’ll only make it half way home

For many years this road’s been friend and lover
And the silver lines have led me to your smile
But tonight my mind is tired and can’t recover
The memory of that last familiar mile

The light that you left on I’m sure is burning
And the walk up to your door is straight and clean
But I can’t see past this dark road’s gentle turning
And I’m riding on between daylight and dream

I’ve tried to make it back to you one more time
But the road is now a lost trail that I roam
So fare thee well, for I can’t tell
The concrete from the chrome
Guess I’m only coming half way home

The shadow on the road goes on for ages
There’s no way now of telling where to go
And my map seems to be missing all its pages
How I’ll make it home I just don’t know.

1996

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Nothing of the Fall

Spring doesn’t know summer;
it’s just risen from the dead.
After all that time in winter,
it would rather play instead.

Spring doesn’t know summer,
but it gets there anyway:
every stormy April morning
leads to afternoon in May.

But summer knows the autumn –
it can feel it in the breeze;
and it dreads that first September,
when the chill attacks the knees.

Summer holds off autumn
for as long as it can bear,
pretending that its green-leaved glory
won’t end up cold and bare.

‘Cause the autumn won’t remember
how it laughed in early spring,
or the newness of the meadow
that gives birth to everything.

No, the autumn looks back longing
at the lessons summer learned,
thinking of the coming winter
as its green begins to turn.

Now, I am in mid-summer
and I sense the changing tide;
watching all my growth go amber,
but still holding spring inside.

When I come to November,
I hope I can still recall
the way the world looked in April
when I knew nothing of fall.

07 SEP 2003

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