Guy Clark

April 1, 2019

There is nothing romantic

about Highway 79 

on which Johnny Horton died 

and they keep a shrine for Jim Reeves. 

I rode that road in the wayback,

my fingers pressed to safety glass

that was keeping out the Texas.

Jack had all of Bob Wills’s records

78s and compact discs;

a few Joe Ely cassette tapes

and sometimes death in his back pocket,

folded flat.

I went with him once to Austin,

riding shotgun with him pilled up

looking hard for main offenders

like frat boys in Lacoste polos,

U.T. girls who couldn’t see him,

Aggies off the reservation,

or any unlucky someone

who crossed his path in the darkness

of his waning disposition.

Jack took coffee with his supper

and he looked like Charlie Whitman. 

Once we wrote a song together

in a Motel 6 in Beaumont

but I guess that I’ve forgotten it

(not that it matters anyway).

There is nothing romantic 

about sliding into darkness

your headlights doused and drowning in

a young buck’s black confusion

on ol’ Highway 79.

Later his big sister told me,

when he made it to Eagle Scout, 

he went in their father’s closet, 

cut up his suits with a razor 

then sat down at the family table

with his badge. 

I’ve nothing against the Texas

(I even lived there for a spell)

but I’ve heard it’s furies singing

and I don’t want no part of that. 

You can listen to Guy Clark but 

you don’t have to wear the hat. 

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