Sam Shepard … “In Rapid City, South Dakota, my mother gave me…”

Sam Shepard (1943-2017)

“In Rapid City, South Dakota, my mother gave me ice cubes wrapped in napkins to suck on. I was teething then and the ice numbed my gums.”

And with those words, Shepard begins Motel Chronicles, his amazing hybrid book of poetry, prose poems, flash fiction, creative non-fiction – a work that was the basis for Paris, Texas – a film by Wim Wenders.
A taste…

“3:30 a.m.

is it a rooster
or some woman screaming in the distance

is it black sky
or about to turn deep blue

is it the body of me alive
or dead

is it Texas
or West Berlin

what time is it
Fredericksburg, Texas


“If you were still around
I’d hold you
Shake you by the knees
Blow hot air in both ears

You, who could write like a Panther Cat
Whatever got into your veins
What kind of green blood
Swam you to your doom

If you were still around
I’d tear into your fear
Leave it hanging off you
In long streamers
Shreds of dread

I’d turn you
Facing the wind
Bend your spine on my knee
Chew the back of your head
Til you opened your mouth to this life
Homestead Valley, Ca.


“I used to bring Nina Simone ice. She was always nice to me. She used to call me ‘Daahling.’ I used to bring her a whole big gray plastic bus tray full of ice to cool her Scotch.”

“She used to finish her set with the ‘Jenny the Pirate’ song from Bertolt Brecht. She always sang that song with a deep penetrating vengeance as though she’d written the words herself. Her performance was aimed at the throat of a white audience. Then she’d aim for the heart. Then she’d aim for the head. She was a deadly shot in those days.”
San Francisco, Ca.


“She makes a dash for the hole in the door. He falls on his face. She’s loose in the cattle yard. No shoes. Sinks to the knees in muddy manure. Hears shot from the porch. Waits to feel it. Nothing. Pulls her legs out with both hands. Heads for the light on the hill. Can’t remember who the light belongs to. Can’t remember if the light belongs to people or just some barn. A light is better than no light, she thinks. Any light is better than dark. She’s falling in deep plow ruts. Clawing her way. Any light is better than dark.”
Petaluma, Ca.


“Nothing moves from one end of the highway to the other. Not even a twig flutters. Not even the Meadowlark feather stuck to a nail in the fence post.”
Santa Rosa, Ca.


“I’d just as soon take it as it comes. Not get all het up about it. If I dissolve I dissolve. Nothing to it. Just as soon dissolve in peace.”
Homestead Valley, Ca.


“I watch my kid jump in his dreams
Sleeping sideways in a motel bed

Next door, a couple argues
He keeps saying: ‘Now, Lorraina, don’t’
She keeps saying: ‘Why?’

Swimmers splash in the pool outside
Night swimming
No voices
Only the splashing of arms

My kid jumps
Shifts his head on the pillow
A dream runs through him
His voice
No words

The Grand Tetons loom outside the window

The Sanke River curls around our bed
Hisses into itself”
Jackson, Wyoming




~ by samofthetenthousandthings on August 1, 2017.

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