My very good friend and songwriter/performer, Kevin Connolly, wrote this poem. We have known one another since the mid eighties. For a time we shared a house in the Boston area when I was flying airplanes by day and playing music nights, mostly at a place full of characters called the Plough & Stars in Cambridge.

I was moved when he read it to me; that he knows me so well, and that he would take the time to recall those days leading up to the present. – Ray

“Ray”

your foot pumps out the groove
four thumps per measure
120 beats per minute
metronomically aligned to my pulse
and our eyes connect
through the trance you’ve created
in a bar worn from pints of dark brew
laughter and clinking glasses
the background noise
that comforts an old blues player

the shaved headed Fumanchu bouncer
and the peg legged professor carry on
about vaginal sounds beaming from outer space
while the tall man asleep on his feet
sways from side to side like an old pine
letting you know that while you are not
the center of universe
you are connected
to the living and the breathing
as the smoke goes in and out all night
to the sound of your guitar

your brown suede boots
and jailhouse eyes weathered and worn
by Vietnam and the whiskey years
your Dodge Dart slant six heart
and Shure 57 microphone
pre CBS black faced Fender amp
crank out distorted tones
while slides made of glass and copper
glide medium gauged flat wound strings
like wolves crying
held up at attention until its time
to let go and move forward
from the clanging of frets and the
harmonica howling through a steel rack mount
singing about spoonfuls, mill work and cocaine

here broken hearts bleed out on the pavement
in a world of houseboats and gamblers
big muddy rivers that steal children
and sell ‘em for parts
dis-assembled souls that collide
along empty gas container alleys
exploding if left too long
in the sun of Louisiana,
Texarcana and Barstow
to the plains of Texas
and the border fences where refugees
get stuck in the barbed wire
and leave plastic clues
on the hot desert sand
and everything paid for in cash

but now the gas station rest room sink is filled
with shaving cream and whiskers
tracking endless miles of driving
over midwestern wastelands
in snow storms and around jack knifed 18 wheelers
your voice dull from the years but low and raspy
and smooth like your leather souled feet
that connect you with the tiny stage four feet up
where you sit like your piloting one of your beaver planes
around high tension wires
through the fog and landing on a smoky lake of drunks and psychopaths

and later in the kitchen
in front of your 8” black and white
in your little house in south austin
next to the crystal meth neighbor
who’s hickory tree you decorated with tiny mirrors
to fuck with her and make her cry
and the gun you keep in the glove compartment
in case they come looking again
but this time you’ll be ready
cause you did your job and drove the car
that night in memphis
behind the motel 6 on elvis presley boulevard

to the joint you hold between your lips
and the cellophane that covers the smoke alarm
and your foot
still pumping at 2am
the moon shining off of the airstream
and you watch that old movie
that you’ve seen a hundred times
and I forget how it ends
but I’m keeping an eye on you
and tapping my foot too.

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