Drums along the Interstate

When I was just a little boy-boy-boy
my family lived in a house with highway sounds
sometimes my Pop was unemploy-ploy-ployed
sometimes my sisters and my brother were not around
sometimes I’d run off through the tree-tree-trees
and watch all of those cars, some fast, some slow
on Route Ninety-three-three-Three
that’s when I realized I had to find a place to go
I used to have bad dreams-dreams-dreams
and moments of blinding numbing joy
I couldn’t hide the sloppy seams-seams-seams
I had no skin, too many feelings for a boy
I used to listen to the Who-Who-Who
and Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and the Rolling Stones
I smoked dope and drank boo-boo-booze
I was a vandal and a dreamer and I felt alone
sometimes I used to cut my skin-skin-skin
sometimes I’d break things just to hear the sound
you see, I already had sinned, sinned, sinned
there was no point in trying to hold the higher ground
the sound of tires in the rain-rain-rain
punctured my heart and made me want to cry
there was no way I could explain-ain-ain
the way my wires got crossed, the way the sparks could fly
I felt uncomfortable at schoo-schoo-school
I was an underachiever, lousy sense of self
but this left me free to choo-choo-choose
a different path from everybody else
I heard the music in my head-head-head
a fucked-up radio with a busted dial
I heard every word they said-said-said
I found a brand new way to exhort and defile
a fifty-dollar Guild guitar-tar-tar
I met a girl and we started acting like adults
man, I was gonna be a star-star-star
I was gonna get results results results
and still I’d run off through the tree-tree-trees
and I’d dream of going places I didn’t even know
on Route Ninety-three-three-Three
didn’t want to live in my skin, no more, no more.
that’s where the story ends for now-now-now
a hill at dusk above the Interstate
having a smoke and wondering how-how-how
you shake the feeling that you’re always one day late.

bat boy


There were, as far as I knew,
no David’s in my family.  My mother
named me after King David, in the bible.

When I was small she would sing this song
that went “Little David, play on your harp-”
which I assumed meant that I was supposed

to blow harmonica in a blues band, but I
don’t think that’s what she’d intended.  I didn’t
know who I was supposed to be.

Mostly I grew to suspect that I had a
lot of work to do if I was ever going to
be accepted by God.  There was

one narrow road one had to
walk, and I kept
wandering off of it.

I was taught to avoid sex and violence, but the
Bible was chock-full of it.  In fact, my namesake,
who seemed to relish war, got one of his soldier’s

wives pregnant, and then arranged for
the man to be killed on the battlefield.  This
is where I got confused; I believed that the

tiniest infraction was intolerable to God, yet
King David could have sex with another man’s wife and
have him killed and still be loved by the Lord –

if we went to the wrong church, or drank or smoked
cigarettes we would be locked out of heaven.
Our sins were puny but exacted a high price-

how could the murder and betrayal in the
bible somehow score lower than my doubt
and vulgarity and confusion on God’s shit list?

King David played a stringed instrument and
eventually so did I, but he played for sheep and
kings, and I played in bars, so that offered no clue.

Finally I realized why I had been named for
him, and it had nothing to do with my mother or
Sunday School or Goliath; God bless him, David was

a poet.  He sinned mightily, but he wrote the psalms,
and had a bold heart, and I imagine he was doing the
best he knew how, as who he was.

It began to make sense, I
began to make sense.
My cup runneth over.

Original Morrisons

Morrisons (my father Donald Argyle far left)

The Hired Man and the Dog

When I was young my
father told me this story
about the hired man and

the dog.  The hired man was
apparently a good worker, as
my rigid Methodist grandparents

kept him on despite his
drinking.  On Friday nights
he would take his pay to

town for a little relief, and
my grandparents would
admonish him not to stay

out late, as they would put
the dog out precisely at
9 pm, and the dog didn’t

like drunks or gamblers.  In
the wee hours the dog’s growling
woke my father, who would

peer out his attic window to
see the hired man shambling down
the road, and the dog bristling in the

dooryard, standing between the hired man
and his bed in the barn.  The hired man whipped
off his cap and slapped the dog’s nose, then

waved the cap over the dog’s head.  As
the dog lunged and leaped at his new
enemy the cap the hired man kicked him in

the belly until the dog decided that it just wasn’t
worth it, and everyone went to sleep;
the dog licking his sore privates, my

grandparents frowning over the state
of the world, the hired man dreaming
of the straight flush, and my father

wondering what lay beyond the town.
I think my father told me this story
to teach me how to deal with

threatening dogs – I repeated it as
a young man to glorify the hired
man, as I too had felt locked out

for being who I was.  Now, I just
feel for the dog, as it seems that it is
rarely the ones who make the rules,

or even break the rules who
end up getting kicked
in the balls.

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