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Half-Written Poems



Foggin' up the window

Kettle sittin' on the sill

Miss Lana cleans the dishes

Trouble drifts out by the mill

That water wheel ain't movin'

Damned stream is dammed again

She spits and sighs and grumbles

How she's chained up to the land

Somewhere across the meadow

She hears, "Pitch up that ol' tent!"

The carnies've come to town again

And they're willing to pay the rent

And Lana must oblige, you see

A widow hurts for cash

She ain't discreet, she thinks they're freaks

But she puts up with the trash

And as the sun comes bleedin' down

She gazes out without a sound

Her guards are up, her head is down

Sun's blaze is gone, she's cryin' now

Sittin' on a thin limb

By her window, second floor

A sweet-tongued, little songbird

Chirpin' church hymns for the world

She traces with her finger

On the cold glass, these four words:

"I'll be happy someday"

And she gives them to the bird

Songbird took the words she wrote

And gave 'em his own spin

And though his tune was pretty

Lana knew it didn't fit

From that day on, she understood

She was meant for the crows

Her joy was found amidst her pain

Her anger and her woe

And as the sun came bleedin' down

She turned away without a sound

Her head was up, her guards were down

She was the blaze, she's smilin' now

Well, Lana joined the circus

No one there could believe

The way she made the children laugh

She finally felt free

At times, her smile was nothin' more

Than paint smeared on her face

But with the lions and ladies

Well, she finally had a place

To call home



I've been gnawin' on my cheeks

I've been worried 'bout my jaw

Bastard shattered all my teeth

On the blow that quelled the brawl

You know that was my first fight?

Oh for one, not one for all

Though I'm bruisin', I'm alright

'Cos now I got a girl to call

It all happened in an instant

That big strongman with the sneer

He asked Lana for a good time

She said, "No," he wouldn't hear

So I tapped him on the shoulder

I could smell the stench of gin

This guy really was a scoundrel

So I tucked my elbows in

Now my eye, it's bruisin' up

Green n' yellow, black n' blue

But they ain't the only colors

'Cos I got some red now, too

There's the heat from all my fury

And blood flow to my feet

But the brightest pop of color's

From the lipstick on my cheek

So I got a bloody nose

I got a toothless grin

And a kiss from Lana Lily

Let me do it all again

I got a mangled fist

I'm feeling like the man

I hope it heals up quick

'Cos I wanna hold her hand



Oh, she's salt of the earth

With her wine in a flask

Fly on, little bird

For this too shall pass

They assault in the street

With their red grapes of wrath

Hold strong, respite fleets

But this too shall pass

When sunrises glow

Put your toes in the grass

Take it in, don't let go

For this too shall pass



Honey, I see the stars

Let's leave while it's still dark

I'll make the coffee now

Half an hour and out of town

Last night, we forgot tomorrow

Stayed up late and drank our sorrow

Now your throat, it burns

Your eyes, they sting

But darlin' don't go back to sleep

Jane, can you see the stars?

Through glass and glare, it is still dark

'Omega' just ahead

I drive us closer to the end

Last night, you mumbled through tears

"Dead stars still shine into the years"

Yeah, but I've never seen a star in the city

Is it not enough when I call you pretty?

Honey, there ain't any stars

The last one faded, here in the car

Last night was our last hurrah

Oh, how I wish that it was still dark



I can't sleep

I've been bothered

A dried-up well befell a friend

If I just had some living water

I don't think I'd drink again

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I shade my eyes at the horizon

Toward all of my empty hopes and fears

The darkness comes, I am not ready

For the winter of my years

I yearn for warmth, I yearn for stillness

I yearn for some sweet Master's loft

A belly full, a peaceful passing

Over hay and wrapped in cloth


I sigh upon a dying sun

My cracked lips move, a voiceless prayer

Jesus, if you really love me

Bring a drop of autumn air


I yearn for warmth, I yearn for stillness

I yearn for some sweet Master's loft

A belly full, a peaceful passing

Over hay and wrapped in cloth


Where cardinals play

O'er weeping willows

And cardinals pray

O'er weeping widows

That's where I find you



Gregory Alan Isakov

The Catcher in the Rye

Across the Universe (2007)

Van Gogh's portraits of Joseph Roulin

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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