The problem with crazy people They don't recognize that voice as their own One person you don't want to be alienated from is yourself That's got to cause problems.
My favorite voice speaks from under the lamplight of a roadside diner In the urban sprawl of Los Angeles some time in the 40s something like a Jim Thompson novel.
I like to speak from other places that don't exist Waiting in line at a Dairy Freeze Whip On a bayou outside Houston Inside the ghost ruins of the cities of my Martian ancestors At the end counter table of the Waffle House with the view of Walden Pond.
I was just there A man about my age comes in For lunch with his granddaughter He punches in Fortunate Son and Layla on the jukebox.
I'm looking out the window Thinking about America and I start to cry So I pay the waitress for his meal and tell her not to say who it was but she does and he comes out to thank me.
Thanks for playing the songs I answer You like Eric Clapton? he asks I think about what to say It takes a moment It's a good song I say.
Places that don't exist have something in common They're real Places that do exist aren't so real after awhile.
The air itself is black The susurration of the Interstate is become the breathing of an unnamable organism.
The parking lot outside the diner is almost empty Light hangs in a column from a lamppost The silhouette of a hat a face a cigarette Fluid smoke expands into the columnated light laser'd A voice.
Yeah I'm the Last of the Americans I knew the Golden Age I saw sunlight shine off its polished surfaces I saw the dimness come Even so I do not regret.
I cross the Great Continent Searching Riding radio waves Oh my brothers I too am a Free Citizen of the Lost Nation I follow any signal until it ebbs Fated background noise.
Inside the babel of proto-life electronic soup Straining to hear Adrift only moments I coax a new carrier wave into amplitude Off I go again Into the night Alive.
Thus I cross the great continent The Unmapped Dark Like ancient mariners journeyed from one sighting of land to the next In the rearview my face is lit Beatific dashboard glow.
Free white and twenty-one You can say you love me But I'm a sonnuvagun Tuned in I am home The Last of the Americans After us come barbarians.
There's a river that flows through the heart of darkness Twisting Turning back on itself Like a headless serpent In its death throes.
Along its banks Deep into the night Natives are singing a strange song Ore boats are coaxed upstream Through impossible geometries Eruptions of steam The clang of heavy metals and the throb of pink noise pulse as life's blood Flowing through mills and factories linked by random spans of gravel roads and ancient cantilevered bridges.
Flames rise from the ground In rail yards The air is dense and granular Exaggerated Cyclopean tube works are woven across roads that are on no maps Through ballast dumps at the water's edge Around hills that are glass shards of grouped colors
The confluence of fire and earth births steel where the sound of the sun itself is trapped inside rust-faced monolithic structures Shamans who work the molten metals through the night are standing outside waiting for the bar to open Their eyes outlined by the paler flesh of goggle-protection track our pilgrim's progress.
Imagine a journey up that river No end in sight The memory of there ever having been a starting point faded and lost Imagine time frozen Leaving no way up and no way out That was what it was like.
The machine Magnificent and graceful Bounced sunlight from its chromium surfaces I had to see what it could do I got it out on the Interstate running through the Pennsylvania wilderness and opened it up Wildlife scattered in my wake It was satisfying A sign hove into view Satisfied City Exit 1 Mile
Satisfied City is a good place to stop I said to myself I saw the road stretch ahead in order to disappear over the next hill I had to know I drove on.
Across the flats of Indiana Through the Indian megalopolis of what would become East St Louis Crossing the Mississippi eventually I came to another sign Satisfied City Exit 1 Mile Now that's odd I said to myself I looked ahead I saw the road parallax to the horizon I had to know I drove on.
After another while Another sign You know the story Thus I crossed the Great Continent.
Many miles later The road is running out on me I can see the end ahead I'll drive my once magnificent vehicle onto the beach in Bay City Muffler dragging Engine steaming Doors hanging off I'll walk to the water's edge Standing before the waves of the Immovable Pacific Object I'll hope the end comes quickly Before I can recall every Exit I passed to get here.
On the other side of every desert is Bay City Which sits at the end of the road At the farthest reach of the last straining lunge forward Of an exhausted dream At the end of the line For every Free Citizen of the Future Passive Conditional Where the irresistible westward urge Collides with the immovable Pacific Object and loses.
We take our place at the end of that long checkout line While we wait for time to catch up We face the mirror We cross the desert The buzz of neon on the horizon draws us through parched heat As if it were Reno Nevada itself Sucking on that long straight straw of that great lost highway US50.
After the test After the epiphany After the vision the revelation and the satori The end of the road is and always has been Bay City Where all travelers must come to a Separate Peace or be swallowed up.
It's a lovely day by the sea Mr. Potato Head is strumming at guitar Beggar on the bench is acting lewd and crude Weekend Father's got his kid out for a stroll Wind turbines offshore are shredding the seagulls once more So that's good It is as it should be On a lovely day by the sea.
Onions are frying Chip wrappers are flying Wind surfers are out pestering the fishing boats Bongo Dredster is playing it just as good as white folks New Age banners are slapping in the breeze There's a new flavor on the board at the Dairy Freeze Mungo Jerry is nursing a cup of tea Watching the joggers and unwed mothers promenade.
Somebody must be lonely But not that I can see Somebody must be angry But not that I can see Something must be wrong So that's good It is as it should be On a lovely day by the sea.