Author: Compton, Cliff

Kings River
 

And this is dustbowl country
The legacy of Woody Guthrie and Hank Williams
It ain’t Oklahoma, but it could be
Here in the San Joaquin


And Kelly is up earlier than he ought to be
Picking up beer cans and bottles thrown on the ground by the young
And inconsiderate
Wearing his Grandpa’s magic hat
That perfect fedora
The one Kelly wouldn’t trade for the contents of a bank vault

On the day before payday

And Kelly’s hurtin’

Just out of the hospital where he probably ought to still be

But he’s not complaining about the pain

Because Kelly is his brothers keeper

Busy making this festival perfect

Carrying the load

Doing what needs to be done

As he always does



And I crawl out of my van and stumble over to Java Joes

Looking for a cup of the elixir of life

Looking at the new sun shining through the dewdrops on the leaves

Of those oak trees

And I’m thinking…

Thinking about what was and what is no more

Except in a few places like this



And I met Jimmy here

Looking like a brother from another mother

Singing those same gospel songs that I sing

Looking like a big old hairy bear

Belting it out

Making us all smile

And it felt like church

Until he started singing those murder ballads



And it’s hot and humid

Hot like a cotton field

Hot like the 4th of July

And there amidst the oak trees surrounding the stage

It looks like the 4th of July

Red White and blue Bunting

A big old flag

Old glory flying

Just like before we sold our birthright

For a mess of pottage



And Mildred and Sam are giving it one last hoorah

Building up groundspeed for the final take off

Singing with all heart

Knowing they’ve had a good run

That they’ve made life better for others

By the music they made

And now they leave the stage to others

To a groundswell of sustained applause



And Norman Rockwell could have painted this

Those lights around the oak trees under the canopy of night

The Central valley boys in Their Red Cowboy suits

Playing like 1961 at the grange hall

When love was young

And who needed money anyway



And Marcos is walking around looking half dead

Allergies and sinuses and lack of sleep taking their toll on his body

But he shakes it off because he’s made of strong stuff

And there’s magic in the air

And he knows this place

And he knows these people

And this is home, man

This is the real deal

This is America

As I remember it

Sure feels good

 
Posted:  10/20/2011



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