Chapter Four


SONGS OF LIFE

Introduction

SHOULD HAVE KNOWN SONG FOR A CHILD IN HOLLYWOOD
THE TRIP IN ARKANSAS THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE
DREAMS SEE ME, TOUCH ME SPRING DAYS
WE'LL MEET AGAIN FRIEND REMEMBERED THE VISIT
ALMOST SUNDAY LAY IT ON THE LINE STILL LOVING YOU
SIMPLE PLEASURE FOR THE HEROS AND THE BOLD

 

A wise man will learn something even from the words of a fool.
- Chinese Proverb

Introduction

When I first started putting this book together in the form of chapters I had a hard time categorizing some of the poems I had written. Many of them could just as well have been included in other chapters but some just wouldn't fit into the mood I was trying to create so I think of this chapter as kind of a "catch-all" for the poems that just didn't seem to belong anywhere else. Some of them, however, are the best I feel I've ever written or at least the moral to them is very important to me and I feel they belong in a class by themselves.

If it seems that I'm trying to play the role of a philosopher in some of them, well, maybe I am. We've all got our opinions and beliefs and a few of mine are stated in this chapter.

The longest poem I've ever written is included here and it relates directly to my life only so you may find yourself skipping over "The Visit". The moral to that poem, if there is one, is stated simply in the last verse. Another one, titled "The Trip" is simply that, a poem written about a trip without any moral whatsoever.

You might say this chapter is just a break from the more serious poems preceding it. There is no underlying theme here but I hope you can find something of interest. And if really into seriousness read on my friend.

A. W. G.


I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN

I've traveled down some twisted roads,
While rushing through this life.
I've tried to lose the heavy loads
That cut me like a knife.

The people that I tried to help,
Have left me all alone.
They'd rather do it by themselves,
I guess I should have known.

Now I have some scars to show,
Plus lots of free advice.
But no one hears or wants to know
About my sacrifice.

I tried to grow up way too soon,
And lived my life too fast.
I guess I really should have known,
I'd miss the years I passed.

I threw away my childhood years,
In search of distant dreams.
Now I laugh to hide the tears,
The dreams weren't real, it seems.

Mistakes I made were not in vain,
I've learned a thing or two.
Survived the fire and felt the rain,
Should have known I'd make it through.

I've had some luck and made some friends,
That helped me through it all.
I stumbled some but in the end,
I never took a fall.

A few of the things I had to learn
I really should have known.
Like play with fire and you get burned,
And reap the seeds you've sown.

But now I've found the things I need,
To make my future bright.
I've got a love to set me free,
A bright star in the night.

The feeling that I feel inside,
Is strong enough for two.
I should have known I'd finally find
Someone as sweet as you.


SONG FOR A CHILD

Somewhere there are answers,
For questions that you ask.
Just take a look around you,
Don't live your life too fast.

Love is out there somewhere,
You're sure to find it soon.
Just keep your feet on solid ground
While reaching for the moon.

There is no true perfection,
The world is full of pain.
Stop to smell the roses,
Reach out and touch the rain.

There is no shame in crying,
Sometimes we all need help.
While searching for your freedom
Look deep within yourself.

Life may not be easy,
And dreams can let you down.
Never give up trying,
Though fear is all around.

Don't let nightmares scare you,
It's all within your mind.
Be your own best friend,
When friends are hard to find.

Stand behind your feelings,
When you feel they're right.
Have an open mind,
And keep your goals in sight.

Above all just remember,
As long as you're alive,
The greatest truth of all,
Only the strong survive.


IN HOLLYWOOD

She grew up dreaming she'd be a star,
In Hollywood.
She thought her light would travel far,
She knew it could.

She loved those movie magazines,
She read them all.
The boys would see her in their dreams,
How they would call.

Her pretty face they loved so well,
A lovely smile.
Such a beauty she thought would sell,
A winning style.

She dreamed about so many things,
She hoped would come.
Fancy clothes and diamond rings,
She wanted some.

Her mirror was her only friend,
And this she knew,
She didn't have the time to spend
To make a few.

She'd count her money every night,
And worked each day.
Then left to find her name in lights,
And make her way.

But the city never noticed her,
Her money spent.
Just another pretty amateur,
So innocent.

They took advantage of her will to please,
And stole her pride,
Then left her crying on her knees,
No place to hide.


And now she spends her wasted time
With any man.
Still dreaming someone she will find
To understand.

Her name in lights will never be,
No fans to greet.
And the only lights she'll ever see,
Are in the streets...
... Of Hollywood.


THE TRIP

Thirteen hundred miles to go,
To reach the eastern shore.
Charleston's waiting there for me
Like all the times before.

Oklahoma, Arkansas,
Then Memphis for the night.
Cross the Mississippi Bridge
And leave by morning light.

Nashville, Knoxville, Gatlinburg,
Trying to make some time.
Smoky Mountains up ahead,
Get ready for the climb.

This state goes on forever,
White lines in my brain.
Driving on through Tennessee,
And the Blue Ridge Mountain rain.

Radio died an hour ago,
But I hear the highway song.
The whining of the tires combine
To make the music strong.

Three days spent behind the wheel,
And two nights on the road.
Popping pills to stay awake
While slowly growing old.

The highway signs keep flashing by,
I-40 you're my friend.
But heaven knows how happy I'll be
When this friendship finally ends.


IN ARKANSAS

How I miss those hills and valleys,
And that old southwestern drawl.
Fresh air and easy living
At my home in Arkansas.

I was raised with simple people,
And I grew to love the land.
Country life and simple pleasures
City folks can't understand.

All the farmers and the ranchers,
Who live by their own hand.
Growing food and peace of mind,
In a way that God had planned.

It's sad how quickly progress
Turns pastures into towns,
While gentle country breezes
Are replaced by highway sounds.

We should stop and look around us,
And be thankful for it all.
For the people and the places,
And the life in Arkansas.


THE HIGHWAY OF LIFE

Long distance phone calls,
For hours at a time.
Please accept the charges,
I'm down to my last dime.

Out here on the highway,
Many miles from home.
Another sun is rising,
On many miles to run.

Tequila in the morning,
And cocaine afternoons.
Life is ever changing,
Like the phases of the moon.

Thoughts are always drifting
To a lover left behind.
Warm and gentle memories,
Sailing through my mind.

Another lonely rest stop,
Another lonely day.
Drop another Beauty,
Chase weariness away.

Shadows stretch before me,
Sun is sinking down.
Back out on the highway,
Empty streets and towns.

The road goes on forever,
Life goes slowly by.
Dreams are distant starlight,
Across the darkened sky.

Roll another number,
A bottle for the road.
Smoke away the emptiness,
Drink away the cold.


Life is just a blur now,
Moments lost in time.
Slowly fading landscapes,
Painted in my mind.

Still the wheels keep rolling,
A never ending hum.
To hypnotize my senses,
And make my conscience numb.

Darkness creeping inward,
To take away my soul.
Find another vein now,
Before the buzz is gone.

Out here on the highway,
Take pleasure when it comes.
Smiles are harder to find,
With each new rising sun.

Lay another line down,
Find another phone.
I may have lost the number,
You can never go back home.

Life is like a poem,
Dreams complete the song.
The words don't always rhyme,
But the music lingers on.


DREAMS

Dreams ...
Scattered clouds of imagination,
Drifting silently...Softly ...Across the borders of my mind.
A magical formation, Subconscious decoration, Created by design.

Dreams ...
A never ending picture show, Only I can see.
Visions of the great unknown, Reality's refugee ...
Dreams.

SEE ME, TOUCH ME, FEEL ME

Look at me,
Open your eyes,
Your mind,
What do you see?
Not always what I seem,
Like memories of a dream.
I'm me.
Have I always been this way?
Like snowflakes, or patterns of the rain,
I change...
... Rearrange.
Does that seem so strange?
Look at me again.
I'm me.

You say you love,
But love is blind,
So what do you see?
Is it me?
A fantasy?
Or something that you want to see?
I'm me.

Touch me...
What do you feel?
Am I real?
What does your touch reveal?
Feel the many changes,
That came from loving you.
Face is still the same,
Different point of view.
Feel me.

Walk with me,
Not behind me,
Or before me...
And never without me.
Share my dreams,
All my silent screams
You may find hard to hear.
My greatest fear,
It sometimes seems,
Is living all my dreams...
... Alone.

SPRING DAYS

The breath of spring is all around,
There's magic in the air.
The howling winter wind is gone,
New life is everywhere.

And in my heart I feel a change,
With every passing day.
As future plans, and hopes and dreams,
All chase the past away.

The cloudy skies have changed to blue,
And sunlight filters down,
While lover's hearts and flower blooms
Explode without a sound.

You cannot see the beauty here,
Unless you pause to look.
Don't try to judge the story
If you haven't read the book.

The happy days of spring await,
Slow down and rest awhile.
Relax within their gentle touch,
Embrace them with a smile.


SOMEDAY WE'LL MEET AGAIN

Well here we are again my friends,
Another sad good-bye.
We knew the story had to end,
But still we wonder why.

The road of life is long you know,
We must be traveling on.
Places that we have to go,
Before our time is gone.

We had a short but happy stay,
And shared a smile or two.
The memories made won't fade away,
Of times we shared with you.

I must say I enjoyed the rest,
And we'll really miss you so.
As friendships go, this was the best,
And I had to let you know.

So take good care and save the smiles,
Think of us now and then.
I pray in spite of all the miles,
Someday we'll meet again.


A FRIEND REMEMBERED


Why must the memory linger,
And the pain go on and on?
The music is forgotten,
But I still recall his song.

It haunts me while I'm sleeping,
And it's there when I'm awake.
A lonely, sad reminder,
Of the chance he had to take.

Although the future beckons,
And the past grows ever dim,
I'll never lose the feelings
Or the memories of him.

Always a friend and brother,
Till he lost that final race,
And fate reached out to take him
To it's sad and distant place.

Someday I hope to join him,
When my life on earth has ceased.
And again we'll share our friendship,
Till then, Dennis, rest in peace.

This poem written in memory of Dennis Wade Barnett, a true friend and blood brother. God keep you.

THE VISIT

I took a short vacation
Not very long ago,
To visit in my hometown
With some friends I used to know.

With memories of our school days,
When laughter filled our hearts.
The good times I remembered
Never seemed too far apart.

Rolling in the boy's room,
And smoking in the car.
But all those trips we took,
Never took us very far.

Drinking beer at lunch time,
And flirting with the girls,
Then going back to classes,
Our minds all in a whirl.

And all those crazy parties,
Boy, the weekends were so cool.
Staying out till morning,
And breaking all the rules.

The times were always great,
Back when we were young.
We took some crazy chances
But were always having fun.


Not caring for tomorrow,
Or all the days to come.
Young spirits, wild and free,
Our lives were on the run.

And then the memories faded,
Like pictures in my mind.
I took a ride downtown,
To see what I could find.

I passed the corner bank steps
Where Nuttall used to sit.
He'd be there every Friday,
Selling bags and taking hits.

But now the steps are empty,
Like a tree without a limb.
I remembered what had happened,
Said a silent prayer for him.

He broke one rule too many,
Getting drunk and driving fast.
A bridge will have no mercy,
If you hit it when you pass.

I drove on to the Sonic,
So many nights we cruised.
I looked at all the faces,
Not a single one I knew.

Then back out to the highway,
I drove a mile or so
To the place we loved to hate,
And always seemed to go.

But the skating rink was gone,
In it's place, an empty lot.
They say it burned right down,
Well, it always was too hot.

I went on back to Main Street,
Still searching for a clue.
Was wondering what had happened,
Not knowing what to do.

Then stopped in at the pool hall,
That's where we made our deals.
Homegrown by the pound,
Or a pocket full of pills.

Nothing much had changed,
Old men in the back
Playing dominoes forever
While the ceiling slowly cracked.

And there I saw old Robin,
Playing pool and freaking out.
"Hey, come with me you hoodlum,
We've got things to talk about!"

So then I got the story,
When I took him to his pad.
After talking of the past
And the crazy times we had.

And as he rolled a number,
The truth was finally heard.
I listened to him closely,
Growing old with every word.

"Well I'm not in town too often,
Got a job, I drive a truck.
Have to get away from Nashville,
Man this town can really suck."

"Don't go to any parties,
Since the old gang's not around.
Not a thing to do on weekends,
Seems the spirit left this town."

"Yeah, Ricky still in Dierks,
Stopped drinking years ago.
Said it caused too many problems,
So he had to let it go."


"Still smokes a little hooter,
But he works a lot of nights.
Hardly ever comes to visit,
Guess his money's pretty tight."

"And Bart left after high school,
Went to college for awhile.
Flies a plane in Carolina,
Hasn't been here in a while."

"He divorced the girl he married,,
Probably didn't get along.
And even when I see him,
Doesn't stick around for long."

"But Billy's still with Sheila,
'Course they always stay at home.
Think he lost his job from drinking,
But he's working off and on."

"Doesn't have too much to say,
When you see him on the street.
Always headed back for home,
Guess that girl has got him beat."

"Now Danny lives in Dallas,
Building shopping malls, I hear.
Making money like a Texan,
Doesn't need to come back here."

"And Mike is still his partner,
Think they've got 'em quite a crew.
Hardly touch a brick themselves,
Too much business stuff to do."

"Old Stan is working steady,
See him every chance I've got.
Yeah, we grew the stuff we're smoking,
Got a patch or two of pot."


"Now he's got himself a trailer,
Sees his own kid now and then.
Him and Suzie like to party
Guess nothin's changed with him."

"Well I've saved the worst for last,
Things you might not want to hear.
It's about our 'best friend' Bryan,
Have yourself another beer."

"Man, that boy could really party,
'Member how we'd all get fried?
Then he'd pull out that old Magnum,
Thinking how his brother died."

"You could always trust in Bryan
Not to let a party down.
Good times were always rolling,
When us three were around."

"I know you won't believe this,
But now it must be said.
I'm not sure how it happened,
But old buddy Bryan is dead."

"Don't get the wrong idea,
It's not quite what you think.
He's still alive and kicking,
But he never takes a drink."

"He doesn't even wave,
When we pass along the way.
He's become just like this town,
His spirit passed away."

"He's not the way he was
When you knew him way back when.
A stranger he's become,
He's forgotten all his friends."


"If he speaks to you at all,
You have gotten pretty far.
It's as if you've never met,
Doesn't know quite who you are."

"It happened kinda sudden,
One day he changed his life.
Got married kinda quietly,
Now he sticks right by his wife."

"I know you guys were brothers,
Though your parents weren't the same.
I'm sorry that it happened,
But there's not a soul to blame."

"I wish I had more time,
We could talk about it all.
But now I've got to run,
I can hear that bossman call."

"Come back and see me soon,
If you're ever back in town.
Too bad the way things are..."
Then he left without a sound.

It hit me pretty hard,
How everything had changed.
How everyone I knew
Have their lives all rearranged.

In many ways it's sad,
When your youth so quickly dies.
Memories are all that's left,
How the hands of Time can fly.

So I packed up all my things,
And I got back on the road.
No plans for coming back,
Just thoughts of growing old.


I learned a painful lesson,
Vacation at an end.
Once you leave your home,
You can never go back again.

Dedicated to "the old gang"

ALMOST SUNDAY MORNING

Well it's almost Sunday morning,
And I'm almost out of Snow.
One lonely line remaining,
I sure hate to see it go.

And there's something in the mirror
I thought I'd never see.
An older man's reflection,
Quietly staring back at me.

Sometimes I have to wonder,
How the years can slip away.
How we run into the future
As we flee from yesterday.

I close my eyes, imagining,
Just how my life would be,
If I flew among the eagles
Instead of falling on my knees.

I've been up and down this highway,
And as far as I can tell,
It's a long way up to Heaven
And a short fall down to Hell.


LAY IT ON THE LINE

She used to be a lover,
Now she's just a friend.
Same old painful story,
Never seems to end.

I never asked for much,
Just some peace of mind.
Don't tell me pretty stories,
Just lay it on the line.

I've given up on miracles,
Don't take away my dreams.
Something to hold on to,
Something to believe.

Don't treat me like a loser,
I can't win every time.
Remember I'm just human,
And lay it on the line.

I don't want any promises,
But give me half a chance.
We'll reach the stars together,
Create a true romance.

My past will not defeat me,
Though memories still cause pain.
I'll roll with all the punches,
And try to love again.

I won't give up on you,
For something left behind.
Just don't give up on me,
And lay it on the line.


STILL LOVING YOU

So you think you want to change the world,
But it seems tonight that all your thoughts
Are swirling,
And there's something I better tell you girl,
I see all the dreams the years have brought
Unfurling.

Do you think I
Would understand
Just why you cry?
What is your plan?
Do you know where
This road will lead?
Or do you care
Since you're so free?

Now you say you'll do it on your own,
You need no one to help you find
The answers.
Why do you feel you need to be alone?
Life's too short to take these kind
Of chances.

No one knows when,
Or even how
The world might end,
It could be now.
The end could be
Just any day.
But you sent me
So far away.

All I ever wanted was to be
Someone that you lonely life
Was needing.
Still I think you find it hard to see,
I need to be part of the life
You're leading.

If you feel you need to find your way,
Without someone to hold you through
The dark nights,
I'll leave you now with nothing else to say,
Still loving you and praying you'll
Be all right.


SIMPLE PLEASURE

Have you felt the simple pleasures
No instrument can measure?
The soft and silent treasures,
Like the early morning sun.
Or were you on your way,
Just rushing through the day,
Trying to find a way,
To make it on the run?

Well it's time to stop and see,
What beauty there can be,
Create a memory,
A chance to share a smile
Take a look around,
Surprises can be found,
If you can settle down,
Take it easy for a while.

Put a flower in your hand,
A walk through drifting sand,
And then you'll understand,
How easy it can be.
Listen to the birds,
Songs you haven't heard.
You provide the words,
Set your spirit free.


FOR THE HEROS AND THE BOLD

Three... Two... One... We have liftoff...

In the golden glory of the hour after dawn
The shuttle rises upward as we hear her deafening song.
We watch in silent wonder as she spreads her wings to fly
On smoking clouds of cotton into the morning sky.

Her fiery tails reach earthward with a glow to match the sun
As she rises into space, another flight begun.
And ten miles down below, as we watch her fade from view,
We offer silent prayer for the safety of her crew.

But as our prayers end we no longer hear her song,
We gaze into the heavens knowing something must be wrong.
And as we watch in horror, her flight has reached an end,
A distant sound like thunder carries to us on the wind.

Now as the moment lingers, we stare and disbelieve,
Hoping we've just imagined what we know our eyes have seen.
And in that awful silence the truth is slowly found,
The shuttle has exploded, the bird has fallen down.

That moment of time stands frozen in the icy claws of death,
As a shudder passes through us like a final dying breath.
The voice of Fate has spoken to us all, both young and old,
Leaving only tears of sorrow for the heros and the bold.

Written in tribute to our heros, the seven crew members of the space shuttle Challenger, who died in search of knowledge on 28 January 1986.