The Rip Post                                                                                              


 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
SONG FOR JERRY GARCIA


                   
illustration by Mouse

You slipped away so quietly
alone, near half-past four
The full moon melted in the sea
as they knocked upon your door
They said you lay there, smiling
in the dark, so peacefully
While an angel sang that lullabye,
Death Don't Have No Mercy. . .

You stood for years upon a stage
with poem and melody
Like a wizened sage who held the point of
life's philosophy
Then left them waiting, with heart and rose,
for one more joyful eve
sweet ragtag kids and wanderers
whod found a place to be  

In days gone by, you framed the sky
with China Doll refrain
And Brokedown Palace, and Morning Dew
and Mission in the Rain
Shakespeare-wise and stark as Poe
and quaint as toodleloo
Your song was sweeter than chirping birds
And sad as Stella Blue

With a Touch of Grey, and Not Fade Away
you sang, we will get by
Till the last rose pricked, the last star burst
and splattered in the sky
Well, the buds still bloom, in the face of doom
the stars shine old and bright
But a shadow falls in all the halls
that were once so filled with light

Tell me now, where are you
where in heaven did you go
Have you gone the way of yesterday
where everybody goes
Did you cross that muddy river
did it have another side
Have you gone away with Uncle John
playing to the tide

They'd found a vein, so rich and pure,
in this fools' gold paradise
Hearing harps unstrung and glowing words
and the names of wind and ice
It's true, it's all inside each soul
to hear such harmony
But it takes a tune to bend the ear
of those who love the key

Tennessee Jed and Staggerlee, Ramblin' Rose
and poor Cerise
Casey Jones and Jack Straw, too, whatever will
become of you?
Uncle John and Sugaree, August West
and Billy D.
Orphans all, and all too soon, another time's
forgotten tune

Can someone sing you alive again, old dire wolf
and devil's friend?
Or will you now forever breathe in book
and haunted reverie?
The storyteller had no choice; now we do not
hear his voice
Did it matter, does it now? Stephen would answer
if he only knew how

Hes gone, hes gone, so went your song
And naught would bring him back
But gone is a land that none can know
unless its life they lack
Yet in this world, were cursed to hear
the grim toll of that bell
That tells of days run out and done,
and empty wishing well

Tell me, now, where are you
where in heaven did you go
Have you gone the way of yesterday
where everybody goes
Did you walk out in the morning dew
or back to Tennessee
Tell me, now, where are you
run off with Sugaree

A lifeboat from the ship of fools,
too full to stay afloat
Somehow sailed, through storm and gale
on drums and soaring note
You captain'd it, against your whim
left tiller to its will
For all aboard, there was no chord
too soft, too sweet or shrill

And now the bark is floating free,
adrift for unknown shore
Where music plays with a lesser range,
from less inspired score
The strangest captain a man could find
'Mid blood and destiny
Gone home, gone home to streets of gold
and endless symphony


It's a courageous thing, to laugh and sing
in this world of rage and sin
Where the devil eyes humanity,
and winks, and strokes his chin,
You pay a price, for thinking twice,
and questioning each page
It's true, the truth will set you free, but it
also builds your cage

The heartstrings are not built to last
through years of snow and rain
They're feeble host for this fated ghost
Too easy prey for pain
You limp along on what you can,
in sliced eternity
This long goodbye of years flown by,
where time is mockery

Tell me, now, where are you
where in heaven did you go
Have you gone the way of yesterday
where everybody goes
Did you ring the silent bell
in the key of double E
Are you lost inside the palace
of the Queen Chinee

In the end it's just disquieting, to think
these things so real
That beauty is not proof against the
turning of the wheel
It seems a dream, too strange to pose
that nature might discard
A thing exquisite as a rose
or love found in guitar. . .

Tell me, now, where are you
where in heaven did you go
Did you ride that northbound train away
to old Fennario
Are you strumming chords of clouds right now
and flowers, sand, and sea
Tell me, now, where are you
gone home with Staggerlee

Tell me, now, where are you
where in heaven did you go
Did you catch the bus to Terrapin
with Neal and Jack-a-Roe
Do you live on inside a song somewhere,
or only memory
Tell me, now, where are you
gone home with Staggerlee

---Charles Bogle

BACK TO POETS CORNERED


2002-2007 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.