poem for Captain Beefheart by Tom Waits

Captain Beefheart in 1983. Photo: Deborah Feingold/Corbis

Captain Beefheart in 1983. Photo: Deborah Feingold/Corbis

Tom’s poem for Captain Beefheart

NOW DON IS LIKE THE BONES IN A WATERMELON
OR THE SEEDS IN A FISH AND YOU CAN SEE HIM
THROUGH THE BLUE SMOKE OF A TRAMPS FIRE
IS HE STILL IN 1129 AT THE DAVENPORT HOTEL
IN SILO, MISSOURI? NO…YOU SEE MY FRIEND YOU
WILL NOT FIND HIM THERE. HE CAME FROM THE CLAY
AND HE HAS GONE BACK…LIKE RATS, LIKE RAVENS
ROOKS, AND COAL BLACK ROSES…SHARKS, SHADOWS,
SHOES AND SHEEP. HE IS NOW LIKE THE PLACE ON
THE COUNTER, WORN AWAY FROM YEARS OF MAKING CHANGE.
HE IS NOW A SIREN IN THE NEXT TOWN OVER…ONLY HIS
TAIL IS STICKING OUT OF THE GROUND.
DON, HE WAS A GIANT AND HE WALKED AMONG US ON THIS
EARTH, NOW LONG GONE…
HE HAS GONE BACK INTO THE FROGS CROAKING THROAT…
LISTEN, IN THE DESERT THERE IS A FORK STUCK IN A TREE…
PUT YOUR EAR UP TO IT AND THUMP IT, BOW IT, SWALLOW THE
SOUND AND THEN GROW IT…
DON SEEMS TO BE TELLING US ALL…DO NOT FOLLOW HIM
JUST TAKE WHAT CLUES HE LEFT AND WITH THEM,
GO AND BUILD A STRANGE HOUSE OF YOUR OWN
-TOM WAITS

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