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Monday, February 13, 2012

King of the Moon

Old man down
Way down, down by the docks of the city
Blind and dirty
Asked me for a dime, a dime for a cup of coffee
I got no dime, but I got some time to hear his story
My name is August West
And I love my Pearly Baker best, more than my wine
More than my wine
More than my maker, though he's no friend of mine
Everyone said
I'd come to no good
I knew I would
Pearly, believed them
Half of my life
Spent doing time for some other fucker's crime
The other half found me
Stumbling around, drunk on burgundy wine
But I'll get back on my feet someday
The good lord willing, if he says I may
I know that the life I'm living's no good
I'll get a new start, live the life I should
I'll get up and fly away
I'll get up and fly away
Pearly's been true
True to me, true to my dying day, he said
I said to him
I said to him, I'm sure she's been
I said to him, I'm sure she's been true to you
I got up and wandered
Wandered downtown, nowhere to go but just to hang around
I've got a girl
Named Bonny Lee, I know that girl's been true to me
I know she's been, I'm sure she's been true to me

Music: Jerry Garcia
Lyrics: Robert Hunter

After the sun sets the avenue is cold and empty.
I begin to panic as it gets darker and I have no place set aside to sleep.
I guess it's the all night laundry again.
The light is so fucking bright
But there is a dark corner by the dryers.

Every so often a car drives by but mostly it is quiet and cold.
The wind picks up and blows yesterdays newspaper down the empty sidewalk.
I finger my cigarette pack and wonder...
Should I smoke one now? I only have 3 or 4 left.

Stan and Pete stand by the door to the Baptist Church where some sour singing is straining to make the street.
I feel the cold snake down the back of my coat. It feels like an old enemy come to call...I shiver and take the brown bag that is offered me.
Warm and burning the wine finds its way to my empty stomach where it burns like hell.
I take another pull...I feel better...a bit more mellow.

"What's on the menu at Rose's" (the soup kitchen down the street)
"Damn sauerkraut, brown rice and old kielbasa from WWII" Stan spit out.
"Hee Hee, a feast for a king, sez I" Pete was beaming. "I likes it when my belly is full"

The moon was rising over the small park across the street, the light from it was intense, made my eyes hurt.
"Here's to the King of the moon!" Pete rose the bottle and took a big swig, got it down and then coughed violently. He spat on the sidewalk.

Stan looked around, "I'm gonna go see my girl, she's got a room tonight, g'night Pete, Red"
"G'night, Stan" They all called me "red", I don't think I ever told anybody my name. Oh, sure, the cops knew from when I got busted for vagrancy. That's when I first hit the streets...smarter than that now though.

"I'm a goin' back for some more vittles, hee hee" Pete passed me the bottle and I took another long pull. "You comin', Red?"
"Nah, I'm gonna watch the fuckin' moon."

I always wound up watching and thinking on my own, trying to wipe the years of cobwebs away.
Sometimes it worked, mostly it didn't.
Tomorrow I could get my medicine from the clinic, then I would wipe some webs away. Think clear. Make plans. Make a new start. Leave this city.
Tomorrow it will be ok.

Tonight though it's just me and the moon. "King of the fucking moon" I light a cigarette and pull the smoke deep into my tattered lungs..."I'm gonna write that book starting tomorrow"

I ambled down to the coffee shop on the corner. I buttoned my top button and ran my filthy fingers through my matted hair, pulled the collar up on my coat and strolled in like I owned the goddamn place.
"Coffee and a bearclaw"
The tired waitress set the cup and plate down, not even bothering to look at me.
"King of the moon" I muttered to myself and devoured the the bearclaw. The coffee was hot, strong, a real bracer. I sat and nursed it. Warm and cozy on that stool.

The laundry mat was empty but damn bright as hell. No one was around so I could crawl back into my secret lair and sleep like a king. King of the goddamn moon.