Lyrics for The Poet Game

Copyright © 1994 Brown-Feldman Publishing
  1. "Brand New '64 Dodge"
  2. "Boomtown"
  3. "The Poet Game"
  4. "Ballingall Hotel"
  5. "One Wrong Turn"
  6. "Jesus & Elvis"
  7. "Sadness"
  8. "Lately"
  9. "Lord, I Have Made You a Place in My Heart"
  10. "My New Book"
  11. "Driftless"
  12. "Here in the Going Going Gone"

"Brand New '64 Dodge"

Money comes out of Dad's billfold. Hankies come out of Mom's purse. The engine hardly makes a sound even when you put it in reverse. It's got a push-button transmission,hardtop convertible, 4-door. It's November of '63 and the brand new Dodge is a '64. And we're rolling slow down Main Street - the asphalt and gravel crunch. Church is finally over and we're going to have our Sunday lunch. And then I will play football with my buddies down in park. Later I'll dream about my girlfriend as I lie alone in the dark. She's got short red hair and blue eyes and her swimsuit's also blue and her little brother is retarded, but Jesus loves him, too. And Jesus loves our president, even though he is a Catholic. There's a lot for a boy to think about as he walks along the railroad tracks. And my sister won't get carsick 'cause we're going only half a mile and the car still has that new car smell and dad looks like he might smile and the world is big and full of Autumn and I'm hungry as can be and we're in our brand new '64 Dodge November of '63


Here come the artists with their intense faces, with their need for money and quiet spaces. They leave New York, they leave L.A.. Here they are - who knows how long they'll stay - [chorus:] It's a Boomtown got another Boomtown and it'll boom just as long as boom has room. Here come the tourists with their blank stares, with their fanny packs - they are penny millionaires. Something interesting happened here long time ago. Now where people used to live their lives the restless come and go. [repeat chorus] Nice to meet you, nice to see you in a sheepskin coat made in Korea. Welcome to the new age, the new century. Welcome to a town with no real reason to be. [repeat chorus] The rich build sensitive houses and pass their staff around. For the rest of us, it's trailers on the outskirts of town. We carry them their coffee, wash their shiny cars, hear all about how lucky we are to be living in a ... [repeat chorus] The guy from California moves in and relaxes. The natives have to move - they cannot pay the taxes. Santa Fe has had it. Sedona has, too. Maybe you'll be lucky - maybe your town will be the new... [repeat chorus]

"The Poet Game"

Down by the river junior year walking with my girl, and we came upon a place there in the tall grass where a couple had been making love and left the mark of their embrace. I said to her, "Looks like they had some fun." She said to me, "Let's do the same." and still I taste her kisses and her freckles in the sun when I play the poet game. A young man down in hill country in the year of '22 went to see his future bride. She lived in a rough old shack that poverty blew through. She invited him inside. She'd been cooking, ashamed and feeling sad, she could only offer him bread and her name - Grandpa said that it was the best gift a fella ever had and he taught me the poet game. I had a friend who drank too much and played too much guitar - and we sure got along. Reel-to-reels rolled across the country near and far with letters poems and songs.. but these days he don't talk to me and he won't tell me why. I miss him every time i say his name. I don't know what he's doing or why our friendship died while we played the poet game. The fall rain was pounding down on an old New Hampshire mill and the river wild and high. I was talking to her while leaves blew down like a sudden chill - there was wildness in her eyes. We made love like we'd been waiting all of our lives for this - Strangers know no shame - But she had to leave at dawn and with a sticky farewell kiss left me to play the poet game. I watched my country turn into a coast-to-coast strip mall and I cried out in a song: if we could do all that in thirty years, then please tell me you all - why does good change take so long? Why does the color of your skin or who you choose to love still lead to such anger and pain? And why do I think it's any help for me to still dream of playing the poet game? Sirens wail above the fields - another soul gone down - another Sun about to rise. I've lost track of my mistakes, like birds they fly around and darken half of my skies. To all of those I've hurt - I pray you'll forgive me. I to you will freely do the same. so many things I didn't see, with my eyes turned inside, playing the poet game. I walk out at night to take a leak underneath the stars - oh yeah that's the life for me. There's Orion and the Pleiades and I guess that must be Mars - all as clear as we long to be. I've sung what I was given - some was bad and some was good. I never did know from where it came and if I had it all to do again I am not sure I would play the poet game.

"Ballingall Hotel"

I said I'd never come to this ugly old hotel again. Baby, here I am. I said I'd never knock again on # 22 Baby, how are you? Some nights something grabs you and you don't even know what it is. Give me a kiss. Leave that black slip on and dance just like you did last time. I'm so glad your plans for leaving fell through - just like mine. Ain't no air conditioning, the ceiling fan don't work too well. Guess we'll have to sweat it out again at the Ballingal Hotel. One night I knocked on the wrong door and myself as an old man answered - so drunk and so poor. I said I'd never come again to this ugly old hotel - but what the hell.

"One Wrong Turn"

[chorus:] One wrong turn is all it takes and there ain't many signs - you only get a few breaks. Some get more. Some get less. One wrong turn leads to the next. The days go slow and the years go fast. The future you look for is soon the past. You seldom end up where you thought you would. One wrong turn can change it all for good. [repeat chorus] Love ain't a hug. Love ain't a kiss. Love is every day doing this, that, this. We put in our time and we put in our heart. One wrong turn can tear it all apart. [repeat chorus] Where's that little house with the porch light on in a stand of cedar and the highway gone - Good smells of cooking and the garden loam - I'd have thought by now I'd have found my home. [repeat chorus]

"Jesus & Elvis"

Jesus had some water, said "Wine'd be better yet". Elvis picked up a guitar and made all women wet. Elvis he died young - Jesus he died younger. Elvis died of too much - Jesus died of hunger. Jesus sang down through the ages: "Do like you'd have'em do you". Elvis rocked the universe with be-bop-a-lu-la - Now here they are on black velvet, in a parking lot in Missouri - rocking my soul with rock'n'roll, soulful harmony. Jesus went back to heaven to be the King of Kings, but I hear the King of Rock'n'Roll is still restlessly roaming. Go on home to Jesus, El - he's waiting there you'll find. You two can jam on old gospel songs - them are the best kind.


Sadness come to my house with a stinking bouquet, smiled with her thin gray lips and said, "Honey, I'm home to stay." [chorus:] And I said, "Go away and leave me alone. Go away and leave me." She handed me rotgut whiskey and a lit cigarette, danced all around my room and said, "Are we having fun yet?" [repeat chorus] She took off her party dress and her tear stained brassiere, came so close I could smell her and said "Kiss me here and here." [repeat chorus] She lay down on my bed and open her thin legs, raised up her arms and said, "Honey, I ain't too proud to beg." [repeat chorus] She said, "Don't you remember what you did to that one, to the other one, too? Well, I've just come to do exactly the very same thing to you." [repeat chorus] I said, "I'm gonna get out my shotgun. I'm gonna get out my Bowie knife - and if you don't clear on outta here, I'll kill you within an inch of your life." [repeat chorus] She said, "Honey, I've come to love you. I'm gonna hook you 'til you burn - and then I'll go and you will never know just when I may return." [repeat chorus] I will go out in the mountains, way out in the desert somewhere, where the sun shines down on rocks and bushes and there ain't no Sadness there. [repeat chorus]


We closed that bar and we closed that town. The sun looked different coming up than it did going down. That was long ago - do you still love me or do you hate me? I wouldn't know - I haven't seen you lately. We could have died dancing in each other's arms or driving home close and warm out through the little farms, or in the bed, holding on and shaking. But we did not - and where you been lately? I can see your eyes, so dark and knowing, and I wonder where that distant train is going. If I found you, would you smile - would you take me? I only know I miss you so much lately.

"Lord, I Have Made You a Place in My Heart"

Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart among the rags and the bones and the dirt. There's piles of lies, the love gone from her eyes, and old moving boxes full of hurt. Pull up a chair by the trouble and care. I got whiskey, you're welcome to some. Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart, but I don't reckon you're gonna come. I've tried to fix up the place, I know it's a disgrace, you get used to it after a while - with the flood and the drought and old pals hanging out with their IOU's and their smiles. bare naked women keep coming in and they dance like you wouldn't believe. Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart, so take a good look - and then leave. Oh Lord, why does the Fall get colder each year? Lord, why can't I learn to love? Lord, if you made me, it's easy to see that you all make mistakes up above. But if I open the door, you will know I'm poor and my secrets are all that I own. Oh Lord, I have made you a place in my heart and I hope that you leave it alone.

"My New Book"

Lipstick on a thermos cup, lust and whiskey fill it up and smoke blows from the chimney to the moon. It's much too cold in the Midwest - chilly hands cup chilly breasts. Things not said fill up every room. As he stands there in the door, there's no room for him anymore. She lies there saying, "Honey take one last look." I'll tell it all in my new book. Above the city 300 feet, a derelict in a penthouse suite packs his suitcase for the midnight train. The rich girl could not face her dream. He's bitter coffee, she's sweet cream. She pulls on her shirt, outside it rains. And later in the rambling dark, he'll unwrap her broken heart and smile the weary smile of the crook. I'll tell it all in my new book. Coyote sleeps with everyone, but in the morning he's long gone and it turns out that he was a she. Tales grow tall around the fire. Where there's no truth, no one's a liar. Whatever mask you wear is who you'll be. There is a hole in the day through which we make our gateway - I make mine every time I'm shook. I'll tell it all in my new book. We sift through culture run amok but our rhythm is still boom-boom-chuck. The whole world to us is now a theme park. The tourist takes the traveler's place, buys a new body, a new face. A hymn is not a hymn sung with no heart. And I turn to the Man of Woe and ask him where there's left to go - he points down with his shepherd's crook. I'll tell it all in my new book. When they lead you to the wood, remember that you always should leave a trail of black-eyed peas behind so I can find my way to you, whatever you may get into - you are the one I always long to find, and when this crazy time is gone, we'll build a home down by a pond. I'd make you a good mate - I love to cook. I'll tell it all in my new book. On old Cape Cod, it blows a gale. I'll be Jonah. You be the whale. I want to dive as deep as we can go. Your ship is sailing for the dark, leave your suitcase, take my heart - hold me, stow me, love me very slow. Why must this hour come to pass? I look at you and raise my glass. Our kisses cannot stop the scythe, the hook. I'll tell it all in my new book. I heard a young man sing a song, just that one, and he was gone off on the journey we all used to make. It was a song like rain and wind, reminded me of where I'd been, and that wild feeling I can't seem to shake. I'd like to go into some shack and wait for that kid to come back and sing until the walls and windows shook and tell it all in my new book. The soldiers meet between the fights to drink and gamble half the night while waiting for the fresh troops to arrive. The battlements will always stand, according to the ancient plan, not a one of us gets out alive. And as we huddled in the smoke, I began to get the joke. I laughed and kissed you while the whole world shook. I'll tell it all in my new book.


Have I done enough, Father, can I rest now? Have I learned enough, Mother, can we talk now? Will you visit me in my place of peace? I'm going driftless. Let's cry all our tears cry them all out now. Let them flow down and clean all the rivers. And the evening sky is the reason why I'm going driftless. Have I worn enough clothes to go naked? Have I told enough lies to see some truth? Round hill - round thigh round breast - round sky I'm going driftless.

"Here in the Going Going Gone"

Dark laughter on the teeter-totter, an old song floats across the water, I know I should pack up and move on. One-note Johnnies proliferate, the wind rises, the hour is late here in the going going gone. My heart ain't mine, my heart is yours - or else I left it out-of-doors like a baseball glove out on the lawn. I'd walk through fire to retrieve it, but still you never would believe it here in the going going gone. Everywhere you look you see more of you and more of me scrambling for the goods, the lines are drawn. peace and quiet - is there any? We are the beautiful too many - here in the going going gone. Modern Love's loaded gun. I live alone and love everyone and I feel pretty good. Is that so wrong? Passion called and I would blow it. Now I'm an old Chinese poet here in the going going gone. Porch full of winter squash and pumpkin, Summer's always really somethin', but one day fall arrives with a chilly dawn. While lovers make love in warm beds, the forsaken sit and scratch their heads here in the going going gone. The rain keeps falling on the flood. The flower closes to a bud. All my gifts you say are just a con. But I'll always want to be your friend. That is my prayer until Amen - here in the going going gone. Transcribed by Szymon Wozniczka.