It started like a thousand black neck rolls
Piled to the horizon
The late afternoon Texas sky full of clouds
Leading to my destination
To the West the sunset challenged them
Fighting pink and red, coating the bedding
To the right, memories of Capetown and
Words flying out of my head in search of paper

The sign said Prairie Dell and my eyes
Could feel the smoke of an open fire
The smell of beans burning in an old iron pot
A sad cowboy song heard as the sun set…
The wheels rolled toward Austin, the car
Old and looking like it had baked in the California sun too long,
Miles of concrete and asphalt, the Mustang mugged by the elements
And walking flatfoot with a limp,
Packed with wing nuts, guitar picks and gaffer’s tape
A show would happen as sure as the rain would be short.

I knew there would be no need for guitar polish,
But I brought it anyway.

He walked in quietly as if he had bad directions
Black jeans slung low, his hair
Trying to escape earth’s gravity
Some people stopped and stared while others
Wondered if he belonged there at all….

He arranged the band like furniture in a new house
Like the guy who figured out
That if you put a mirror on the wall in a hotel
Across from the TV and bounced it off the mirrored doors
Of the closet you could watch it while you were on the toilet,
Only backwards;
As if the practical had some greater, hidden meaning…
Or maybe he just wanted himself and the audience
To be able to see the band,
Nothing more.

And, as with these things, once we set it in place we tore it apart.

After two movies and a heaping salad, we put it back together.
It was his time.

His boots had communion with the floor
And he held the mic stand as if it were a rope
Hanging off a ship in a storm
The words we all know flew like birds, ran like rain
Down a gutter, echoed like a truck backfire
In an industrial park
Though it was all English, everyone knew
He was the only one with the combination
Prayers and taunts, movies and paintings
The grand weepers and grim reapers came forth

And many of us were the better for it
I felt as if I was invited on a treasure hunt
And I found the chest
And the answers to a hundred forgotten dreams
Were within.