Today, in no mind
to contend with these
doom shadows,
in no condition to breathe
the blues in or out,
our man finds strength
to cross the Mississippi
anyway.
For Townes Van Zandt Live
at the Old Quarter
anyway.

Bible on the seat beside
him once again,
he’s thinking on long afternoons
spent lying about shapes
he saw blooming in the clouds,
thinking she’d keep
looking forever,
happier in fact
to search forever
than if she ever found them.

Missouri, Illinois,
Indiana, Ohio.
Two tanks of gas
in the Bronco.
A lot of dead factories
and death-cheating farmers.
And those old thoughts
creeping again,
the secret desire to be
swallowed by the whale,
to drive off
this prairie highway
straight into the mouth
of the monster.

She has another lover,
a handsome man
whose doctor daddy
could pay
to have Junior’s teeth
trained to behave civilly
in adolescence.

All our man has is
Townes Van Zandt Live
at the Old Quarter
again
and again.

Townes, usually drunk
as an alligator
but at least sober this time,
singing “Who
Do You Love?”
“Cocaine Blues.”
“To Live’s to Fly.”
Singing the devil
away for one more night.

Wait.
You mean you don’t know
about Townes Van Zandt?
Well, let me explain.

If Hank’s in heaven,
sins be damned,
uplifted through voice,
and Elvis is burning
for what he taught
the young ones to do
with their bodies,
then down there
in the belly of the whale,
where our heartbroke hero
wants to go,
see, that’s where
Townes van Zandt is.

It’s where they send
the ones who deserve
no reward
but have already suffered enough.
And I do believe
it suits him.
Nothing to do there
but breathe the blues
in and out.
And finally time
to write some of those songs
so good even he
doesn’t know what they’re about.