“Wanderings” – a poem inspired by the music of Townes Van Zandt …

A poem of mine from a world ago – it seems – originally published in Mojo Risin’ Magazine, and later included in Necessary Motions (Sow’s Ear Press). I make no secret of the fact that I connect with, have always connected with the music of Townes Van Zandt.

A bit of back story: In the late fall of ’96, Townes Van Zandt passed through my town. I’d wanted to write a piece, send it to him – had thought about it for years. So, I drafted a poem, set it aside – thinking, I’ll make this better.

He died a few weeks later, 1 January 1997 … and without ever reading my words. It wasn’t important that he didn’t read the roads – mine aren’t that special – but was important to me that I didn’t send them. I have to tell you I experienced a strong and irrational guilt – inescapable, really. Still have that feeling. My not finishing the piece, my not sending it to him, his not reading it … caused his death. I’m to blame, somehow. I know this isn’t so, but it doesn’t change the feeling.

I did send the poem to his wife.


      — for Townes Van Zandt

Words have wolves in them.
Their tracks stretch with the moon
through vast legends of forest to my window.
They howl into the deep ache of my fire.

The promise of new snow over the mountain
finds me gone by morning.

Highways leave, and towns we know
shrink to specks of light,
but somewhere rivers drift beneath stars,
somewhere they bend their stories south.


I’m including a video of Van Zandt singing “Snowin’ on Raton,” a song that kept rolling through my head while I was writing this piece. The recording is 1994, Ireland.



~ by samofthetenthousandthings on February 9, 2016.

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