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Tom Petty/Full Moon Fever Covers

Side 1, Track 1

And all the bad boys are standing in the shadows

And the good girls are home with broken hearts.

But what about the good girls standing in the shadows under high school bleachers, buttoning their blouses? And those bad boys stumbling drunk out of homecoming dances into the darkness, their tender hearts broken? It’s the tragedy of being human, isn’t it? the whole damned lot of us, babies, kids, adults waiting for something as cruel and inhumane as what sellers of snake oil notions would call unconditional love, something even God doesn’t promise anyone, all those unrequited hearts tattooed under clothes, eyes closed, fingers in ears, every- one humming elevator muzak, wishin' and hopin' and thinkin' and prayin’ there’s someone, Sandy Olsson, Danny Zuko dancing through the funhouse, sweeping us off our fate right before some harrowing freefall into the only grace there is.

Side 1, Track 2

You can stand me up at the gates of hell

But I won’t back down

This is how a civilization ends,

no bang, no wimper, just a boy

on a witness stand, blubbering

like some red-cheeked kid sent

to the principal’s office, “I didn’t

do anything wrong,” as if he never

heard of the Ten Commandments,

as if it never occurred to him

what could go so tragically adrift,


as if he was, well, just any ordinary

boy misled by feckless adults,

happy to arm a child with weapons

of his own destruction, proud to drive

him off to fight their battles, a boy

too young to drink, smoke, maybe

drive after dark, definitely too young

to understand what this uncivil war

is really about, or why his guardians

wouldn’t join him on the battlefield,

safe in their cars, senate chambers,

mahogany boardrooms, gated resorts,

protecting themselves from the grave

moral injury they would so easily inflict

on a child’s innocent soul, jackals all,

cheering his bedeviled absolution

while he sobbed for his freedom, not

one earthly clue about the guilt, shame,

despair that will surely follow him all

his days, a scarred, scared boy trapped

in a man’s body, the unending terror

of living out his life in flashbacks,

nightmares, looking over his shoulder

for the hellish retribution he will believe

is his alone, burning tears raining down

from the heavens, rolling down his baby

cheeks, sinking this listing ship in our sins.

Side 1, Track 3

Yeah, love is a long, long road

Turns out I’m alone on the grassy slope, Mountain Jam 2019, eyes open, eyes closed, night falling, Catskills disappearing as you perform a lifetime setlist, girls dancing, hips swaying, their uneasy boys’ heads bobbing, stars popping overhead, no one imagining your moonlit concerts would ever end, certainly not me, leaning back in my rusted beach chair, old man lipsynching along with you, recalling the rooms and years I heard each song, such endless joy eclipsed in the spaces between each tune, wishing my kids, their kids, would be here with me, our arms around each other, all of us swaying, singing a love song so long it would never end

Side 1, Track 4

Before all of this ever went down In another place, another town

So yeah, I’m walking down Main Street

in this funky mountain town, P&Gs,

the skater shop, The Bistro, but I might

as well be wandering through some

nameless suburb, a city, a farm,

a forest, it doesn’t matter, everyone

looking all around, over their shoulders,

glancing up, eyes on clouds, ceilings,

shrinks’ offices, classrooms, their eyes

shifting here and there, peering out

of sweat lodges, book stores, TED talks,

yoga studios, everyone anxiously watching

fingers moving the walnut shells, flipping

tarot cards, opening DNA envelopes, as if

this collective unhappiness could be explained,

traced backward beyond our angry fathers,

our unhappy mothers, all the way back

through seven generations of sinners

until we might finally stop blaming it

on snakes or Adam or Eve and her

damnable insubordination, her brave

search for truth, finally call it what it is,

our enduring yearning, the three of you

walking arm in arm, turning around,

back up the road, headed toward that ancient

path through the woods, the corn row,

suburban maze, back toward the overgrown

garden, the creaking rusty gate where there’s

no one checking IDs, no one charging admission,

not a soul offering false promises about

who is welcome, who is not.

Side 1, Track 5

Workin’ on a mystery, goin’ wherever it leads

Stopped at the light at twilight, I don’t

recognize this intersection, don’t know

how I got here or why it matters or even

whether It’s important I should know.

What is clear is that the roads I traveled

yesterday have disappeared in snowy

tracks behind me, lazy cumulous clouds

floating overhead on a late winter afternoon

as I spot someone in the rear view mirror,

smiling as brightly as the red swath of sunset

over the mountain, but when I speak

into the reflection to say something like

Buckle up, eons of wisdom have gotten us

nowhere, the light changes and I turn

my eyes back to the road ahead,

accelerate into the coming darkness.

Side 1, Track 6

And I'll probably feel a whole lot better When you're gone

Hat, gloves, scarf, crunch

of icy snow walking down

the long drive through silent

woods to the mailbox leaning

so hopefully onto this lonely

country road, plowed, salted,

black ice sparkling in the slant

of light coming off the Crag,

all of it so achingly beautiful

my eyes tear from the brittle

wind, cheeks burning, I would

cry if I didn’t know she was back

in the warm house, if the doe

I startled across the road

didn’t pause and meet my eye

before leaping off, white tail

into snowy forest.

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Mar 24, 2022

Hi Steve,

what a pleasure reading your beautiful poems this rainy morning, with not much to do but write myself.



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