She lived with him in East L.A.;
Their baby's born in '68.
Daddy's drafted, gone away--
Bootcamp had him looking great.
He flew off and tripped a mine
Beyond a line left undefined.
Memories flash, blood gushing life;
Heartbeat fluttered off to zero.
Bronze star, purple heart for wife.
Army said he died a hero.
Now she's working streets for money--
For a moment, someone's honey.
Ramona's crying, asks her aunt:
When is mama coming home?
Tuesday, mija. Now, she can't.
Chula, go get me the comb.
Let's go to the grocery store.
And Tia, like she's done before,
Takes Ramona down the street
To shop and then head for the park,
Mona's sucking on a treat--
Sits with friends who would remark
Ramona's close to starting school.
Couple benches. Shade trees. Cool.
Where the foothills meet the flats,
Braceros long ago had built
A place where they could hang their hats,
And where they'd bargain with the silt
That rain would bring down through the wash,
Feeding beans and winter squash.
Mama. Midweek visitor--
Comes to see her little girl.
Dresses smelled of lavender--
Mona finds her way to curl
Up in mama's silky lap,
Sucks her thumb and takes a nap.
If mama spent a night in jail,
Tia got her out again.
Money always there for bail
That mama would send Tia when
She's be someone's secret lover.
Sainted Tia kept her cover.
One summer night of acting coy
On streets she climbed into the cab
Of some pick-up. Good old boy
Inside decides he's going to nab
This honey from the wild side
And take her where coyotes cried.
No more center city slum;
No uptown, grab-ass doorman;
No more alleys rimmed with scum;
She's married to a foreman
Whose name is Shay, down from the hills:
Moon-lit nights and whippoorwills,
Orange sunrise and cool water,
Air spiced like a Bombay gin;
He didn't know she had a daughter,
Or married to someone who'd been
A soldier who had gotten killed
In Viet Nam, his brave heart stilled.
A baby's born. Soon after that,
Ramona came and met her dad
Who thought Ramona just a brat
He never knew his woman had.
She thinks he's daddy just the same;
Four years old; took daddy's name.
Mona's different from the rest--
They'll never make the girl homespun.
With the brown skin she was blessed,
Her mama kept her from the sun:
Wear your long-sleeves. Mind your ma.
Want cowboys to call you squaw?
Mama cooked for all the men
Her husband rode and bossed.
Table often set for ten--
She lost track of sleep she lost.
Last to bed and first to rise--
They ignored her tired eyes.
Mama and her city child;
Sagebrush canyons, rattlesnakes;
Everything outside so wild,
There's little room left for mistakes.
Small errors leave you sprains or scars;
Blind and crippled play guitars.
Daddy's ranching. Mama's stuck--
Country living's not her style.
To town each Friday, took the truck;
He drove and she died each mile--
She always went, she had to shop,
Buy supplies while he'd bar-hop.
Drank remainder of his pay,
Him and his truck fully gassed:
Driving home she learned to pray
On every curve and car he passed--
Then he'd brag on times he's rolled
He wonders, that night, why she's cold.
Ramona's raised where cattle range--
Simple living, simple food.
Turning eighteen she would change
All that with a city-dude.
Hadn't much, but they got by--
He seldom made Ramona cry.
Married five years. Not too bad.
Got to be like any job.
Being someone's wife was sad.
The boredom sometimes made her sob.
Got tired asking, Christ, what's wrong?
Five years with him got too long.
Yesterday he lost his baby
To some notions she took up.
Something told Ramona maybe
It's no good when you're hooked up
With someone heading down the path
Leaving you the aftermath.
She won't let him call her honey,
Baby, sugar, any more.
He first thought the whole thing funny,
Even when she slammed the door.
One day Mona packed her clothes--
Being careful what she chose.
What she thought once was a bother
Became too much to take;
A kid was trying to be her father;
He nearly made her break;
She'd call him after she had got
Together and untied the knot.
She drops her married name, returns
To the place where she'd been raised.
Left city dirt and its concerns
For mountains where the cattle grazed.
And things that made it hard to live,
She'd overcome, try to forgive.
Ramona and a clean, fresh start--
She's getting help from daddy.
She met her daddy's rich sweetheart--
Who took her shopping in her Caddy.
Little sister fills her in:
Daddy's like he's always been.
So. Mona's now a country lady--
Fingers fly to Stetson's brim.
Natural pools jewel shady
Glades where children learn to swim:
California mountain greens,
Yellows, reds and brown betweens.
These lines trace a silhouette--
Shadows and a lover's sigh
Lost to loving one brunette
Who smiles mischief. My, oh my.
Mona, oh, Ramona Shay,
Softly scented summer day.
It's getting old,
She wrote on the first.
This mountain's cold,
Pipes froze and burst.
I get help, but it's still hard,
Though I don't think I'll leave.
The weather I can disregard,
Some people, though, I can't believe.
For gossip, hand it to the man--
Woman's just an also-ran.
You warned me that some people here
Might get me feeling low.
This will fill your day with cheer:
I can't stand the Romeo.
He starts with favors, dinner, charm--
And I'm supposed to melt.
Then he bares a muscled arm
And asks me if I've felt
One harder--please don't gloat.
This, one letter Mona wrote.
Eighteen wheelers; cattle call.
Same old lines,
Same old standard folderol.
Still wear hightop pointed boots
But riding something, now, that hoots:
Four-by-fours go where they please,
Rigged so mean they're climbing trees.
Let me see once more those eyes
That everywhere monopolize
Attention for a better look--
Can't get past the last I took.
Don't you know I like your style--
Love your rodeo princess smile;
Stay a while, let down your hair.
Pardon me, can't help but stare
At lips that make me want to lie
Until they whisper hush-a-bye.
Everybody's into stealing
Another look at her.
They would like Ramona feeling
They're in love with her for sure.
Show me how to let you know
The feelings that I've got
Go beyond a warm hello--
In fact they're running hot.
Listen to me, baby, hey!
Come on, honey, make my day.
Has them coming,
On straight-aways you hear them wheeze.
Stacks are glowing,
Someone's piston's sure to freeze;
While she takes the bends with ease,
Behind her, someone's air brakes seize--
Left jack-knifed, dead in their tracks:
They hadn't seen the blind switchbacks.
In a bar, Ramona's found
Serving cocktails for a living.
Hustling up another round
On orders someone's giving.
The tips she gets are everything--
Short shifts, pay is minimum.
Wearing dresses that'll cling
She shies away from troublesome
Rednecks in the country inn,
Her smile sometimes wearing thin.
She'd been there a month or so--
The night-bartender quit.
Lots of work and short of dough,
Drank the difference, finally split.
Nothing hard about the job
Except on weekend nights
And holidays, the crowd's a mob
And breaks down into fights.
Cowboys, Indians, husbands, wives--
It's war until the band arrives.
The new bartender's Billy Lee,
Working nights and sleeps by day.
Riding in, his destiny
Will introduce Ramona Shay.
Billy Lee was getting by,
Playing music, getting high,
Flirting, falling easy into love,
But changing jobs when tired of
The boss, the pay, or just routine--
Checking out another scene.
Billy had been born with breaks:
California, money, white;
Once was given all it takes;
Lucky he grew up half-right.
Once a hippie--now short hair
Got himself a job inside
Where all, except the millionaire
(Who comes to subdivide)
Count on tourists for support--
Days are long and work is short.
Billy meets Ramona.
She's just twenty-three.
A woman getting over
The drawn-out agony
Of having married someone who
Never seemed to help because
Of something they'd be going through.
She loved her ex, the best there was,
But his loving nature's curled
Dormant through a winter world.
It took too long to realize
She had no hope beyond a thaw.
What had her hoping otherwise
Was all the love Ramona saw
The day they left her daddy's home
And drove off in a blaze of chrome.
Newly-weds had looked so fine,
Mona foxy, him feline.
Now she's once again unnerving
Men and women she is serving.
Lonely men would trail her,
The studs would try to nail her,
Follow her down--
But fall for her.
The world a blur,
Is where they'd find themselves: a wreck--
A name, phone number, last paycheck.
Who'd have thought a city chick
Could make you feel like such a hick?
Her warmth was natural--heeled poise--
Every steady had a crush;
A sister or one of the boys,
Someone who you shouldn't rush.
Grace and style. Mona raked
Orders in all night.
Billy watched her. Billy ached
To hold Ramona tight.
No one ever had to tell us:
He's in love--already jealous.
He washes glasses, salts a rim,
Cuts a lime and lets it swim.
Empties ashtrays, wipes the bar,
Washes up and pours a shot;
Opens up an olive jar;
Then makes sure the bar has got
The change tonight to feed the juke
To keep the people dancing.
Ladies' sink is clogged with puke--
So much for romancing.
Rowdies bent on getting ripped
On what Ramona serves;
There've been nights a cowboy's flipped
Over snaky mountain curves--
Over one he took too fast.
You can't take them fast at all--
Curves like these want men to last.
Don't last long on alcohol.
Last call made at ten to two--
Cash-out, clean-up left to do.
Mona Shay is matching up
A dream he couldn't hide.
While Billy's heart is catching up,
She gives his dreams a ride.
She drops him off and sweetly
Tells him that she'll break his heart.
Throws him off, but not completely,
Tells Mona, Tear my heart apart.
Makes no difference. This is real.
Anything you hurt'll heal.
In the country where it's said
There's little time to get ahead,
It's country where the redneck stands
To lord it over hired hands:
Those the industry recruits
To harvest crops and pull up roots.
It's them or you'll be standing with
Lovers of the cowboy myth
Who talk of sand and John Wayne grit.
Everybody else is shit
In their eyes. Two things that matter:
Crops come in or cows get fatter.
City child, oh Ramona,
Uncut, braided, raven hair;
Daddy dragged them everywhere;
Running in and out of debt,
Taking jobs that he could get.
Ramona, chula, don't lose touch,
We love you, mija, very much.
Never get to thinking such
Things as loving's just a crutch.
Ramona lives where cactus jumps
And playgrounds were the county dumps.
Every round-up when they'd cut
Out the calves to brand,
Daddy took Ramona but
She could never stand
To watch cowboys, from daddy's knee,
Castrate calves and set them free.
Lean and onery, punching cows,
Daddy's sport is breaking horses;
Deriding farmers and their plows
When Kentucky whisky courses
Through his veins. He chases city
Girls who come up tight and pretty.
Cowboy lover contradicts
Himself at home. His love restricts
Their love to him--they got their share
Of being called a liar, thief.
Tell me who said life was fair,
He asks you if you have a beef.
Raging on from word to whip--
He decided what's a bust.
Kids mooned quirts for giving lip;
Wind and rain stirred up his lust
That caught Ramona all alone.
What's she think to hear men groan?
Too small to see clear of the dash,
Her daddy started balling her.
To this day she'll sometimes flash
To a truck that's hauling her
Over hills, down to a pond--
A scream imprints the sexual bond.
To gentle things in him she clung,
Afraid when he'd begin it;
The way she saw it, being young,
Was through the secrets in it.
At night she laid awake in fear--
If he came, someone might hear.
Her pleasure was her daddy's key.
He made Ramona come.
For a moment she'd be free
Like you are with opium--
Numbing fear but leaden shame
Kept secrets that would keep her lame.
Told her that he'd lock her up
If she ever told.
Either that or knock her up--
Ramona wasn't old
Enough, she'd split in half--
Said a calf can't bear a calf.
One day dark blood spots her pants;
Thinks she's pregnant, thinks she'll die.
Told her sister. Took the chance.
Her sister said she'd keep close by
When daddy came with his pretense
He needed help to mend a fence.
That night something inside clamps
Down. Has to tell her mama soon.
She thought a baby caused cramps
That kept her up. She watched the moon--
A slender crescent dipped from sight;
The stars had never seemed so bright.
In the morning, sheets disgrace her--
Now the flow's a flood.
Mona knows she has to face her
Mother. Look, it's blood.
Daddy made me pregnant. I
Didn't tell, I'm going to die.
Your daddy died in Viet Nam.
Can't believe you'd go and spoil
Something and not give a damn.
Thought you would have been more loyal?
Should have known, the way you tease.
You got your period. Mama, please.
No shadows in the summer heat
That Sunday they all ran from him.
Climbed and hid behind mesquite
Just below the canyon's rim.
Lizard-still and scared to death,
Crouch and try to catch their breath.
Down there, bolting from the shack,
Daddy's raving, waves a gun.
Scampers screaming. Blind attack.
Maddened by the blazing sun,
Racing lightfoot over sand,
Scorpion heads for where you stand.
A shot booms out, he tried to scare
Them out from where they hide.
He's one mean drunk, and they'll stay where
They are till they decide
He's sleeping deep, last bottle gone,
And won't wake up till way past dawn.
He can barely lift his head--
Mama's up to get him fed.
Gets him off to work and then
Before he comes back home again,
She has the house neat as a pin--
That night returns his horny grin.
Ramona Shay has seen it all--
Doesn't need to read the news.
Newsprint dressed her paper doll
And sometimes lined her winter shoes.
Knowing news tomorrow brings,
She'll take her blues in sapphire rings.
Billy's nowhere near the kind
Of redneck I've described.
He was more like what you find
On silver charms inscribed
With a line a dreamer's learned
From a book of poetry--
Like, "Love, if true, is twice returned."
And Billy took it seriously.
But lovers get much more excited
When their love is unrequited.
Billy, you'd be awful dumb
To fall in love with me.
I'm heading where you're coming from,
Straight as any honey bee.
One thing when somebody's poor--
We were that and sometimes worse.
We didn't have to lock our door--
All we had was mama's purse.
Only folks we saw content
Were characters that we'd invent.
Memories that her dreaming draws
Startles Mona's sleep.
While her dreaming buries flaws,
Unwanted memories creep
Into her nights and break a sound
Sleep again, she'll stay awake
Until there's light in her background;
Until there's light behind opaque
Shades, she waits for sounds again--
Night-times women fear the men.
The dark's nobody's chaperone--
It's pin-drop panic for her nights.
Won't pick up the ringing phone--
When it's late the phone invites
Attention from a dizzy flip
Or husband who is known to roam.
But left unanswered it might tip
Off a thief there's no one home.
Let it ring, she might get hurt--
Pick it up, it might be dirt.
Alone at night a hush will sneak
Through empty rooms and floorboards creak.
Sometimes Mona talked about
Herself with Billy at the bar.
Sometimes after cashing out
They'd smoke a joint out in his car.
She'd talk about her childhood,
Long ago, but history leers.
Billy usually understood
When she talked about her fears.
Billy works in politics,
Obviously his favorite rap.
Mona laughed to see the mix
When he'd try to overlap
Romance and the revolution.
He'd get serious, blunt, intense--
Thought he saw the resolution;
He didn't care who took offense
When he'd say such things as how
The world could use another Mao.
Busy nights, like holidays,
Provides them some excuse
For setting feelings all ablaze--
Things are hanging loose.
Ramona hustles, Billy pumps,
Mona wouldn't hesitate
To get behind the bar where bumps
That happen animate
Feelings there're no words for yet--
Behind the bar they're getting wet.
Winter drags on melting ice,
Mona's hugging Billy Lee;
Billy thought it over twice--
Then fell in love so easily:
Billy, someday if you learned
I'd been someone's secret pet,
Would you act like you've been burned
And turn around and get
Crazy on me, shout and hit?
I can't take the jealous bit.
If you're looking for a breezy
Tease, that's me, I like to spark
A conversation, never easy
Sleeping all alone and dark.
Don't like taking any chances,
No one pays for my mistakes;
Billy, you can play St. Francis,
I can't wait for lucky breaks.
Paper dolls were economics
I dressed up in Sunday comics.
>>Her boyfriend turned to tap a keg,
>>She sat beside me at the bar--
>>A fingernail slid up my leg.
>>Christ she's gutsy. It's bizarre.
>>She just finished up her shift,
>>Now it's me who's getting stiffed--
>>She'll be going home with him,
>>My chances run from zip to slim.
>>But that's O.K., I can't deny
>>Her boyfriend seems an O.K. guy.
It's payback time. She had no fear
Of what a man could do to her.
Even tanked on Jack and beer,
Her boyfriend's just an amateur
Compared to daddy who could whip
A frenzy up the times she'd slip.
They had secrets. Still he'd wait
Up when she'd go out on a date.
If she was late, inside the door,
Daddy snarls she's a whore.}
He'd call her up,
Come over, talk;
They'd have a cup
Of coffee, walk--
The air was laced with juniper,
That braced the last of winter's sky.
All Billy does is think of her,
Fantasizing that she'll lie
Beside him, warm, some night beneath
The moon, his tongue between her teeth.
Ramona sometimes baited him.
She worked on his emotions.
And every time she dated him
She'd chide his left-wing notions.
He took her where young money ate
With hanging plants and lots of brass;
Cold salad fork, warm dinner plate,
Served up with a touch of class.
While the rednecks drank and brawled,
City-chic wined, dined and balled.
Billy thought she'd get a laugh
Off the hippie bourgeoisie.
She told him she wished she had half
Of what they had--she'd feel free.
Never have to check the price;
Billy, you act like you don't
Want it--you can sacrifice.
If I get the chance I won't.
All I need's a lucky break--
Sugar daddy, high-rise, steak.
Billy treated Mona good
But sometimes he'd talk down
In hopes high-brow notions could
Turn her love around:
What you get with lots of money
Only makes you soft and weak.
Folding money has those funny
Looking men who only speak
For the white and proper upper
Class that eats your kind for supper.
Look who's talking, white as milk
And had it easy from day one.
Money lets me wear some silk
And never makes me walk or run.
Those who're loaded down with cash
Are always different when they come
To pleasing me. They don't act brash
Or try out thrills that make me numb.
I can settle for the wimp
Who never has to push or pimp.
If I could, Ramona I'd
Show you how the rich survive;
I know secrets wealthy hide--
Things they do to stay alive;
How they manage to relax;
What they use to cover tracks;
How they're keeping out of trouble--
But I'd hate to burst your bubble.
As if you could, but watch this girl
Become somebody's precious pearl.
I've no doubt, he said and laughed
At moves Ramona telegraphed.
But violence frequents Mona's thought--
Headline rape and tortures told her
That it makes sense if she's got
A husband who can hold her
In some condo, high above
The streets where murder walks and lives.
No illusions to her love:
She's got to have what money gives.
If having money buys off fear,
What's so wrong with being rich?
Nothing, so long as it's clear
That you've become somebody's bitch.
Billy, aren't we high and mighty?
You ever have to sweat the climb?
Dim lights, champagne, sexy nighty
Is what I want, and you're a prime
Example of what happens when
There's little that you haven't been.
She talked like that, but that concealed
A softness he could see. He knew
That, somehow, Mona could be wheeled
From her hardnose point of view.
At least I'll still have all my smarts--
The brain's the last to go--
Spare cells and no moving parts,
Just got to keep the flow.
She smiled--kissed him on the mouth.
His heart beat like wings flocking south.
The way she talked was straight, direct.
Her walk was proud, she drew respect.
But walking by, thoughts disconnect.
Willful. Tossing her hair back,
She'd hold your gaze and make some crack
That made you smile, for it would smack
Of teasing, being so cocksure
She's going to leave her signature.
Billy: biggest fan of all,
His love spilled like a waterfall.
Billy, it's no certain thing:
You're quiet but your comebacks sting.
I'm song and violet--proud to show.
You get by, go with the flow;
I'm earth; you're water, wind and spray,
Turning blue skies stormy gray.
Mona, listen, I'm the ocean,
Cooling burning sands like lotion;
I'm what a shower's all about,
And fall to end the longest drought.
He was sure love wouldn't fade
And drag thin rainbows through the mud;
Picking bouquets from the shade,
Her love for him began to bud.
Anyone in love before
Knows it's magic past belief;
Heavy hearts begin to soar;
Eternity is brief.
You fly so high you catch the sun
Long before the day's begun.
The likes of him she'd never seen--
All his circuits overloaded,
Cared less if he made a scene,
Cared less if his lamp exploded.
And like the story goes, I guess,
He had to have her heart.
Had to hear her saying, "Yes,"
And couldn't be apart.
And like this story goes, she gave
Her heart up to a willing slave.
She caught him staring: Lunatic!
She puts her hands up to his face,
Drops one down to touch him quick;
Walks away and says, Don't chase
Me now, I'm almost dressed.
The tease returns to kiss his lips;
Then takes the skirt that she just pressed
And slips it over silky hips.
Make-up's all I've left to do,
So finish getting ready too.
Work was only time they measured.
Every moment touching treasured.
Neither one had felt so sane.
Heart squeezed love though every vein.
He felt an angel's fingertips
While the devil stoked
A fire down below which whips
Up passions till they soaked
The sheets with all that brings them near
To feeling equal to their worth;
Every drop and sheening smear--
What more precious thing on earth?
Fingers slip between a fold,
A slippery tongue explores a tooth.
They part, and press, caress and hold.
I swear, Ramona, it's the truth:
I could die tonight, I could--
But heaven just can't be this good.
Hidden glaciers melt and stream--
Rippling, singing, splashing to
A pool so deep that it would seem
There were no end to shades of blue.
A special kind of waking dream
Where hearts let go and spirits flew.
Pulsing rhythms from inside
Her, spray his seed into her womb.
Racing, throbbing, two hearts ride
Their spirit's soaring light to loom
Above and crest, and falling back,
Spread through them and liquify--
Heartbeats pounding through the slack,
The surge and moan, the ebb and sigh.
Side by side the musk and heather
Steep each other in the smell
Of love that blends the two together;
Intentions running parallel
Surrendered to uncommon trust;
Became themselves, their love enough
To shake the past like it was dust--
A love to brush off ugly stuff
That leaves them feeling hurt and mean
Or never feeling anything.
Love they shared was soft, serene
Until some mischief made them bring
Out the playful, sunny laughter--
Love before and always after.
Air that rain has showered clean;
Air, hypnotic like cologne;
Or blown from seas clear emerald green
That smells as natural as your own
Body does, Ramona's scent
Fell like mist, a soft cascade--
Drifting, Billy's senses went
Through dizzy circles as they laid
Smooth and naked on the bed
To touch, to kiss, suck sweetly, bite
Lightly; fragrant trails led
To whet the body's appetite.
Lips were sugar, tongues were nice--
Bodies were their paradise.
Upon a flower's innocence;
I'm high, discover
That poets write
To savor love that's this intense.
And with a newborn's love of touch,
Billy's feelings showed how much
She was his life, he can't pretend
She's not; forever he'll depend
On love that Billy thinks will never
End--a love to safely sever
Earthly ties, he felt no pain,
No time, no space, the earth: a grain.
Time beneath the moon they'd borrow--
Lie awake, ignore tomorrow.
When I see the moon I think
Of us watching full moons sweep
Behind the backlit clouds to sink
Below the mountains, then we'd sleep.
Fading stars in western skies,
The ivory moon would mesmerize
Us, times it woke us up--we'd slide
Back to one another's arms;
Moonlight kept us satisfied
But that's not all that showed its charms.
On the nights it's new, the moon
Would let stars dance to their own tune.
Romantic stories finish here--
Clear and happy ending.
But nothing ends and nothing's clear,
Nothing but pretending
Life can be lived like an art
Apart from those affected
By the world that's come apart;
Pretend you're disconnected
From a world that's winding down
Eyeball to a redneck town.
Pushing limits this town has,
Chicana and a lily white-
Boy, talking talk as deep red as
Blood can be--my, what a sight.
They were counting on their love--
Didn't stop to figure days
That would catch the two in love,
Outside picking spring bouquets
As clouds blow in. The lovers run
Laughing, after rain's begun.
Lovers inside, autumn storm;
Fir trees softly hush the sky.
Branches give. The trees transform
The wind into a lullaby.
The front is past and love endures
The tailending overtures.
But lightning breaks and love depends:
Fir trees taper to dead ends.
Cliffs hang off the awkward slope
Dividing desert sand and beach;
Coastal mountain rednecks grope
For rattlesnakes before they'll reach
Out tenderly--the manly spits
From Barrow down to Mexico;
Truckstop/saddle, hard-ass sits
Down but doesn't take it slow--
Takes it fast the way he likes:
Handicapped in 4-inch spikes
That give her tits and ass a tilt,
Time and place accept no guilt,
Hard-ass has immunity.
Naturally, Ramona flirts
To soften up an angry man;
Opens sullen introverts;
And charms the sheets right off the Klan.
Too bad, she thinks, that she needs sex
Appeal. Her lover's not so sure
She's only flirting. Some complex
Is making Billy insecure.
Billy sees her take a kiss
While he's busy pouring drinks.
Billy can't get used to this.
Ramona neither, but she thinks
It's part of life, outfoxing snares
When someone's acting like she's theirs.
Billy hears some nasty rumors--
Hateful, stupid, silly.
Now he's uptight. Mona humors
Him along, says, Billy,
You know I'm doing nothing wrong--
No matter what you hear, be strong.
Billy hoped it's just her flirting
Getting rumors going.
Some folks like to see some hurting--
People prone to throwing
Shit up in the air in hopes
That things get dirty like the Soaps.
Billy's strong. But on occasion
Rumors worked their slow persuasion.
Feelings bruised when they were used
For facing down a rival.
Coincidence got him confused;
He feared for his survival;
She put it like a poet to him,
Softly said she saw right through him--
Past his guarded feelings that
He kept cooped up or beaten flat.
You've forced your feelings down so deep
Your dreams are causing you to weep;
Between your doubts and questions why
You've stirred dust under cloudy sky--
You're going to see the heavens rain
For having caused your angel pain.
He talked to her like daddy did
On nights she got in late.
Billy, who you trying to kid?
You used to say you'd liberate
Us all if it was up to you.
What happened to the man I knew?
All night long those two stayed up--
Had their fight and then made up.
Making love. Worked every time.
Getting started, couldn't stop;
Playful, shameless, sweet, sublime:
Bedroom, backroom, once on top
Of the bar, the final truck
Was heading home. They loved to fuck.
But don't we all the times it's right
And love just tumbles out
So fast it's there all day and night
And makes you laugh about
Everything that's come your way?
Got so lucky, my oh my.
Ear to ear grin every day;
Everybody thinks you're high;
Every moment seems so full
That you've little time to stop
Like you used to, shoot the bull
With old friends who used to drop
In, but now you think they're stealing
Moments from that loving feeling.
Making love, she'd talk non-stop,
Faster, oh, let me on top,
Squeeze my tits, ugh, harder, yes.
I guess they were a tad obsessed--
But me, I'd be the last to guess
A spanking's what got her off best.
I take that back. I saw a kink--
She got crazy when she'd drink.
Her old man. A man so mean--
Surviving him a fucking scene.
Coming home from Desert Springs
Where she and Billy went to soak,
She gives the sign and Billy swings
Off the road and through scrub oak,
To a spot hid from the road,
Blanket, sand, took off their clothes,
Looking like they might explode.
He eases in, and ahs and ohs.
The trick now, how to make it last?
Cowboy don't get off so fast.
Turn me over, pushes him,
Now spank me. What? Uhh, spank my butt,
Make it sting. But Bill got grim,
Stopped and asked her once more, what?
Driving up the grade and neither
Talk. It's written on their face.
Billy thinking that he's either
Dumb or she's a mental case.
Mona kept her mouth shut till
She couldn't stand it any more.
You're thinking I'm a sicko, Bill.
I've had shrinks tell me before
That spankings help me deal with guilt--
But I don't cry for milk I spilt.
What difference does it make who's right?
All I know is they excite
Me--get me off, O.K., O.K.?
Billy won't forget that day.
Not a clue as what to do.
He even tried to spank her, too.
What a joke. And from then on
Billy watched their love grow wan.
The highs so high, but lows below
The ocean bottom bedrock;
One day the sky, then toe to toe
They'd face another deadlock.
Billy's busy mind abstracting--
Obsessed but he can't bring it up.
Mona does some serious acting
And she gently sings it up.
Impotence: suspicion's toll
Has saddled romance with a curse.
Billy Lee lost all control,
Ramona Shay would have to nurse
Insecurities he had--
Hard to reach, he's ironclad.
Billy set a blind curfew--
Variation meant a clue.
He thought he saw the way it was,
Was not the way she said because
He thought she'd lie, he thought she must
So's not to have to face a bust.
Suspicion worked on him like rust,
Didn't matter if he brushed
It off because next day it's back:
It had a way of keeping track.
He acted out the things he thought,
Making happen what had not.
Now it's down to life for real--
Treats her like a wife. Big deal.
Billy makes her business his
And tries to trap her in a lie.
Used to be he talked of Ms.,
Used to be an O.K. guy.
What's he want? He shares her bed--
Ramona Shay had been misled,
Caught up in a double bind:
Rock and hard place. Same old grind.
How could love turn into shit?
Some nights pass, but counterfeit.
Pretending was the price he paid
To think she was his own.
She pretended, then she laid
As smooth and still as river stone.
Hidden motives made a maze
Out of what was going on.
Getting down to exposes--
Suddenly all the reason's gone:
Condemnation too severe;
No longer kept the closeness dear.
Billy's love was strong and shoved her
In a corner, no escape.
Billy loved her, really loved her,
Badly, though, akin to rape.
She loved him still, without regret,
Might be loving Billy yet.
Makes no kind of difference now--
Mights and maybes don't know how.
Billy Lee decides to let
Her go her before she's caught
Being someone else's pet,
That's what she said, he thought.
Always hoping, impotent--
Either angry, or he'd cling.
Their love died. They parted.
Went Looking for the real thing.
Made his mind up to resist
The tease and be a realist.
Parting, but still felt the pull.
Near morning when they said goodby,
One last kiss and one last full
Moon sank on love two would deny.
Mona stayed up in the hills.
Billy's down on city blocks,
Working evenings, usually kills
Time watching soaps or season's jocks.
Past all chance to make things better,
Billy wrote her in a letter:
"...wish this lovesick boy could find
A way to get you off his mind."
All the love they had now long
Gone into some bluesy song.
Once she gave him all he wanted--
He looks for her in those he meets.
Smell of blooming jasmine haunted
City nights and wrinkled sheets.
Pieces of their conversation
Mushroomed by imagination--
Silhouettes against the moon,
Awake and watching as they lay
Spoon to spoon, a soft cocoon
On seas of love, and castaway.
He remembers love that took
Them both so high their bodies shook;
He remembers love that grew
Wings on which their spirits flew;
Flying high they felt so free
That dreams were their reality.
Happy, yet things of this sort
Don't ever last and soon fall short.
There comes a time to face the beast
That fears us most when we fear least.
The night they let the tears slip past
Their lips that caught the taste of salt,
Ramona said, It couldn't last
But Billy, it's nobody's fault.
After work, as morning nears,
Billy tries to sleep
Through the memories and the tears--
Keep them buried deep.
Yet this morning, like before,
He's pounding teardrops to the floor.
A year went by and he received
Word she's getting married.
Writing Billy, she believed
That what they had and carried,
Was something special, something right.
Billy wrote back, kept it light,
Wishing Mona all the best--
Though he couldn't help but test
The waters--ribbed Ramona that
His undying lust stood pat.
Lengerie, exotic creams
As smooth as down on hummingbirds,
Ramona Shay has touched her dreams:
Money, class, uncommon words,
And parties with a different type;
Billy Lee is left to wipe
Back the tears--his self respect,
Like him, buried to his neck
In bills to pay, and overtime,
Taxes, law and sidewalk crime.
A week went by and topsy turvy
Billy sent a parting shot--
Bull's eye crazy, charged up, nervy:
To remind her what she's got,
He sent a gown like she had made
For paper dolls, one like she played
With as a child. Like, not quite--
He didn't cut up Sunday funnies.
The gown he made read black and white.
No more Blondies, cartoon bunnies,
Sassy, sexy prints to cover
Mona, Billy's paperdoll lover
Who cut and tore
What her dolls wore
To imitate new vogue designs.
Hot off the press
Was headline print and underlines--
A dress made out of rawbone news
Of civil wars and bloody coups.
What's cold as that?
What can I say?
Some wedding day.
Billy caused a little scene
By spelling out his point
Of view, a little mean--
Someone's nose was out of joint,
And you could hear the bridegroom swear
The wrap was nothing women wear.
Ramona, now, a loving wife.
Comfort this time blessed her life.
Had a big house, nice clothes, trips
To sunny spots and gambling strips
Whenever he had time to take
His wife along so they could make
Out like a couple needs to do--
Work in time for loving too.
But the times they get on,
His mind's on precious moments gone.
So. Ramona's living high,
She's living where she's found
That money doesn't let hearts fly--
It chains them to the ground,
Money's like a monstrous stone--
It's hard and cold, it doesn't care,
It likes to keep you all alone--
So chic and charming, debonair.
But it smothers, stunts your growth.
Love and money? Tough having both.
Billy's out of it. He failed.
But still he wants to feel
Like he once felt. So he trailed
Something he thought was real.
Visions that she loved him still
Are leading Billy Lee downhill.
Future faces empty space.
Billy starts to stray.
Sidewalk cowboy's lost all trace
Of his Ramona Shay.
Billy does some substituting--
Desperado comes out shooting.
"Ride me down easy,"
The country song goes;
Ride him down easy,
So nobody knows
This cowboy's one boy who'll become
A sorry case of martyrdom.
Renting just a couple rooms,
Seems he's working or asleep.
Everybody just assumes
He's working hard and living cheap.
No one's there to realize
That Billy's friends are alibies.
The quiet of the tear that slides
Is all you hear when Billy rides.
He's dumb, he's lost, he's on cocaine--
Points for pleasure in the brain,
He knows damn well he might get hurt,
Anytime now, he'll eat some dirt
As bad as any rodeo clown.
He won't lay the needle down.
No pain this feeling cannot cover,
Billy's found a faithful lover.
The rush of pleasure makes him sell
Off years to drain the crystal well.
His new found-lover takes him where
He thought he once had been--
Back to her to smell her hair,
Kiss her neck and then
It's over cause the drug cocaine
Will come on fast but carry pain.
He's waiting till his heartbeat's slowed--
Billy's spacing out each fix;
One. Two. Three. Until he rode
Down to the paper's final licks.
C.C. rider takes a chance
That he'll survive the hollow lance.
Chipping weekends on the rocks;
Tracking veins where elbows crease;
Didn't answer when the knocks
At his door broke brittle peace.
Only move he made was shiver
Off the shadow-matter sliver.
Whoever, left. He filled his spoon,
Paper, cotten to harpoon
Sucking up a healthy dose--
Ties off, doesn't diagnose
His condition, brain is numb.
Slides the point in, takes his thumb
And drawing back, checks for a vein;
Flag rose. Tie comes off again.
Down the plastic tube, his love;
Heart raced like a startled dove.
Oh, so good, moaned Billy Lee,
But oh, my love, you're killing me.
This time was the case for sure.
Billy took too much.
More than just a signature,
He felt his love clutch.
New love's moving in for keeps
To show him where dark silence creeps.
A rush so fast, so clear, so high,
Nothing like it follows.
Billy knows he's going to die-
Air he gets he swallows.
Yellow, white-light overpowers
Eyesight. Gone. The light devours
All his senses, one by one,
To space them through oblivion.
The knock had been Ramona Shay--
The note she left would only say
I have to spend some time with you,
Doing what we used to do.
Billy's death, high as a kite
Brought Ramona grief.
When her father died one night
She only felt relief.
He never knew how much she bled,
Protecting him till he was dead.
No more helpless lovesick junkie
Who lacked plain common sense;
Behind her lay the redneck flunky
Who'd gotten off at her expense;
Both men driven to excess
By a passion to possess.
The Billy Lees and cowboy Shays
Are common through uncommon days;
Another never-ending story--
High hopes dwarfed beside despair;
A would-be hero's search for glory
Motivated by the dare.
Two things you should understand
About this story. ONE:
A cowboy's not the only brand
Of redneck. Rednecks run
In every color--black and white--
City, country, anywhere
Anybody's raised to fight
To secure a bigger share
For himself. A redneck is
Some mother-fucker getting his.
TWO's about this commie stuff:
All Billy might have been was fluff.
Had the revolution seemed
Different from the dreams he dreamed,
He might have come down with those blues
You get in place of paying dues.
Shortly after things got rough,
He started shooting rocks to duff--
Suicide, inch at a time,
Running through another dime
Until it killed him. Had he learned
To trust someone outside of books
He might have not been so concerned
About how some behaviour looks.
Then again, I could be wrong--
He loved Ramona all along.