dark hole again Michael Timmons/Cowboy Junkies

The Sacred Stephen Dunn

Up Hill Christina Rossetti

Out Where the West Begins
 Arthur Chapman

Song of the Open Road Walt Whitman

200 More Miles Michael Timmons/Cowboy Junkies

dark hole again

Michael Timmons

Stuck in that dark hole again.
Someone throw me a ladder
on which I can depend.
Someone give me a handhold
to help me ascend.
Someone give me a reason
to start up these walls once again.

Lost in those gray clouds agian.
Trying to punch my way through them
as fear settles in.
Earth growing larger as I fall into a spin.
Someone give me a reason
to take on those gray clouds again.

Caught in this rip tide again.
My mouth wide open,
the sea pouring in.
Perhaps I'll just float here
and see where this journey ends.
Until someone gives me a reason
to stay clear of those rip tides again.

The Sacred

After the teacher asked if anyone had
a sacred place
and the students fidgeted and shrank

in their chair, the most serious of them all
said it was his car.
being in it alone, his tape deck playing

things he'd chosen, and others knew the truth
had been spoken
and began speaking about their rooms,

their hiding places, but the car kept coming up,
the car in motion,
music filling it, and sometimes one other person

who understood the bright alter of the dashboard
and how far away,
a car could take him from the need

to speak, or to answer, the key
in having a key
and putting it in, and going

Stephen Dunn


Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin,
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at the door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.

Christina Rossetti

Out Where the West Begins

Out where the handclasp's a little stronger,
Out where the smile dwells a little longer,
That's where the West begins;
Out where the sun is a little brighter,
Where the snows that fall are a trifle whiter,
Where the bonds of home are a wee bit tighter,--
That's where the West begins.

Out where the skies are a trifle bluer,
Out where the friendship's a little truer,
That's where the West begins;
Out where a fresher breeze is blowing,
Where there's laughter in every streamlet flowing,
Where there's more of reaping and less of sowing,--
That's where the West begins.

Out where the world is in the making,
Where fewer hearts in despair are aching,
That's where the West begins;
Where there's more of singing and less of sighing,
Where there's more of giving and less of buying,
And a man makes friends without half trying---
That's where the West begins.

Arthur Chapman

Song of the Open Road


1     Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road ,
2     Healthy, free, the world before me,
3     The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

4     Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,
5     Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing,
6     Done with indoor complaints, libraries, querulous criticisms,
7     Strong and content I travel the open road.

8     The earth, that is sufficient,
9     I do not want the constellations any nearer,
10   I know they are very well where they are,
11   I know they suffice for those who belong to them.

12   (Still here I carry my old delicious burdens,
13   I carry them, men and women, I carry them with me wherever I go,
14   I swear it is impossible for me to get rid of them,
15   I am fill'd with them, and I will fill them in return.)


16   You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,
17   I believe that much unseen is also here.

18   Here the profound lesson of reception, nor preference nor denial,
19   The black with his woolly head, the felon, the diseas'd, the illiterate person, are not denied;
20   The birth, the hasting after the physician, the beggar's tramp, the drunkard's stagger, the laughing party of mechanics,
21   The escaped youth, the rich person's carriage, the fop, the eloping couple,

22   The early market-man, the hearse, the moving of furniture into the town, the return back from the town,
23   They pass, I also pass, any thing passes, none can be interdicted,
24   None but are accepted, none but shall be dear to me.


25   You air that serves me with breath to speak!
26   You objects that call from diffusion my meanings and give them shape!
27   You light that wraps me and all things in delicate equable showers!
28   You paths worn in the irregular hollows by the roadsides!
29   I believe you are latent with unseen existences, you are so dear to me.

30   You flagg'd walks of the cities! you strong curbs at the edges!
31   You ferries! you planks and posts of wharves! you timber-lined sides! you distant ships!

32   You rows of houses! you window-pierc'd façades! you roofs!
33   You porches and entrances! you copings and iron guards!
34   You windows whose transparent shells might expose so much!
35   You doors and ascending steps! you arches!
36   You gray stones of interminable pavements! you trodden crossings!
37   From all that has touch'd you I believe you have imparted to yourselves, and now would impart the same secretly to me,
38   From the living and the dead you have peopled your impassive surfaces, and the spirits thereof would be evident and amicable with me.


39   The earth expanding right hand and left hand,
40   The picture alive, every part in its best light,
41   The music falling in where it is wanted, and stopping where it is not wanted,
42   The cheerful voice of the public road, the gay fresh sentiment of the road.

43   O highway I travel, do you say to me Do not leave me?
44   Do you say Venture not -- if you leave me you are lost?
45   Do you say I am already prepared, I am well-beaten and undenied, adhere to me?

46   O public road, I say back I am not afraid to leave you, yet I love you,
47   You express me better than I can express myself,
48   You shall be more to me than my poem.

49   I think heroic deeds were all conceiv'd in the open air, and all free poems also,
50   I think I could stop here myself and do miracles,
51   I think whatever I shall meet on the road I shall like, and whoever beholds me shall like me,
52   I think whoever I see must be happy.


53   From this hour I ordain myself loos'd of limits and imaginary lines,
54   Going where I list, my own master total and absolute,
55   Listening to others, considering well what they say,
56   Pausing, searching, receiving, contemplating,
57   Gently,but with undeniable will, divesting myself of the holds that would hold me.
58   I inhale great draughts of space,
59   The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.

60   I am larger, better than I thought,
61   I did not know I held so much goodness.

62   All seems beautiful to me,
63   I can repeat over to men and women You have done such good to me I would do the same to you,
64   I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
65   I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
66   I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
67   Whoever denies me it shall not trouble me,
68   Whoever accepts me he or she shall be blessed and shall bless me.


69   Now if a thousand perfect men were to appear it would not amaze me,
70   Now if a thousand beautiful forms of women appear'd it would not astonish me.

71   Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons,
72   It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth.

73   Here a great personal deed has room,
74   (Such a deed seizes upon the hearts of the whole race of men,
75   Its effusion of strength and will overwhelms law and mocks all authority and all argument against it.)

76   Here is the test of wisdom,
77   Wisdom is not finally tested in schools,
78   Wisdom cannot be pass'd from one having it to another not having it,
79   Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof,
80   Applies to all stages and objects and qualities and is content,
81   Is the certainty of the reality and immortality of things, and the excellence of things;
82   Something there is in the float of the sight of things that provokes it out of the soul.

83   Now I re-examine philosophies and religions,
84   They may prove well in lecture-rooms, yet not prove at all under the spacious clouds and along the landscape and flowing currents.

85   Here is realization,
86   Here is a man tallied -- he realizes here what he has in him,
87   The past, the future, majesty, love -- if they are vacant of you, you are vacant of them.

88   Only the kernel of every object nourishes;
89   Where is he who tears off the husks for you and me?
90   Where is he that undoes stratagems and envelopes for you and me?

91   Here is adhesiveness, it is not previously fashion'd, it is apropos;
92   Do you know what it is as you pass to be loved by strangers?
93   Do you know the talk of those turning eye-balls?


94   Here is the efflux of the soul,
95   The efflux of the soul comes from within through embower'd gates, ever provoking questions,
96   These yearnings why are they? these thoughts in the darkness why are they?
97   Why are there men and women that while they are nigh me the sunlight expands my blood?
98   Why when they leave me do my pennants of joy sink flat and lank?
99   Why are there trees I never walk under but large and melodious thoughts descend upon me?
100   (I think they hang there winter and summer on those trees and always drop fruit as I pass;)
101   What is it I interchange so suddenly with strangers?
102   What with some driver as I ride on the seat by his side?
103   What with some fisherman drawing his seine by the shore as I walk by and pause?
104   What gives me to be free to a woman's and man's good-will? what gives them to be free to mine?


105   The efflux of the soul is happiness, here is happiness,
106   I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times,
107   Now it flows unto us, we are rightly charged.

108   Here rises the fluid and attaching character,
109   The fluid and attaching character is the freshness and sweetness of man and woman,
110   (The herbs of the morning sprout no fresher and sweeter every day out of the roots of themselves, than it sprouts fresh and sweet continually out of itself.)

111   Toward the fluid and attaching character exudes the sweat of the love of young and old,
112   From it falls distill'd the charm that mocks beauty and attainments,
113   Toward it heaves the shuddering longing ache of contact.


114   Allons! whoever you are come travel with me!
115   Traveling with me you find what never tires.

116   The earth never tires,
117   The earth is rude, silent, incomprehensible at first, Nature is rude and incomprehensible at first,
118   Be not discouraged, keep on, there are divine things well envelop'd,
119   I swear to you there are divine things more beautiful than words can tell.

120   Allons! we must not stop here,
121   However sweet these laid-up stores, however convenient this dwelling we cannot remain here,
122   However shelter'd this port and however calm these waters we must not anchor here,
123   However welcome the hospitality that surrounds us we are permitted to receive it but a little while.


124   Allons! the inducements shall be greater,
125   We will sail pathless and wild seas,
126   We will go where winds blow, waves dash, and the Yankee clipper speeds by under full sail.

127   Allons! with power, liberty, the earth, the elements,
128   Health, defiance, gayety, self-esteem, curiosity;
129   Allons! from all formules!
130   From your formules, O bat-eyed and materialistic priests.

131   The stale cadaver blocks up the passage -- the burial waits no longer.

132   Allons! yet take warning!
133   He traveling with me needs the best blood, thews, endurance,
134   None may come to the trial till he or she bring courage and health,
135   Come not here if you have already spent the best of yourself,
136   Only those may come who come in sweet and determin'd bodies,
137   No diseas'd person, no rum-drinker or venereal taint is permitted here.

138   (I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes,
139   We convince by our presence.)


140   Listen! I will be honest with you,
141   I do not offer the old smooth prizes, but offer rough new prizes,
142   These are the days that must happen to you:
143   You shall not heap up what is call'd riches,
144   You shall scatter with lavish hand all that you earn or achieve,
145   You but arrive at the city to which you were destin'd, you hardly settle yourself to satisfaction before you are call'd by an irresistible call to depart,
146   You shall be treated to the ironical smiles and mockings of those who remain behind you,
147   What beckonings of love you receive you shall only answer with passionate kisses of parting,
148   You shall not allow the hold of those who spread their reach'd hands toward you.


149   Allons! after the great Companions, and to belong to them!
150   They too are on the road -- they are the swift and majestic men -- they are the greatest women,
151   Enjoyers of calms of seas and storms of seas,
152   Sailors of many a ship, walkers of many a mile of land,
153   Habituès of many distant countries, habituès of far-distant dwellings,
154   Trusters of men and women, observers of cities, solitary toilers,
155   Pausers and contemplators of tufts, blossoms, shells of the shore,
156   Dancers at wedding-dances, kissers of brides, tender helpers of children, bearers of children,
157   Soldiers of revolts, standers by gaping graves, lowerers-down of coffins,
158   Journeyers over consecutive seasons, over the years, the curious years each emerging from that which preceded it,
159   Journeyers as with companions, namely their own diverse phases,
160   Forth-steppers from the latent unrealized baby-days,
161   Journeyers gayly with their own youth, journeyers with their bearded and well-grain'd manhood,
162   Journeyers with their womanhood, ample, unsurpass'd, content,
163   Journeyers with their own sublime old age of manhood or womanhood,
164   Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe,
165   Old age, flowing free with the delicious near-by freedom of death.


166   Allons! to that which is endless as it was beginningless,
167   To undergo much, tramps of days, rests of nights,
168   To merge all in the travel they tend to, and the days and nights they tend to,
169   Again to merge them in the start of superior journeys,
170   To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and pass it,
171   To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may reach it and pass it,
172   To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for you, however long but it stretches and waits for you,
173   To see no being, not God's or any, but you also go thither,
174   To see no possession but you may possess it, enjoying all without labor or purchase, abstracting the feast yet not abstracting one particle of it,
175   To take the best of the farmer's farm and the rich man's elegant villa, and the chaste blessings of the well-married couple, and the fruits of orchards and flowers of gardens,
176   To take to your use out of the compact cities as you pass through,
177   To carry buildings and streets with you afterward wherever you go,
178   To gather the minds of men out of their brains as you encounter them, to gather the love out of their hearts,
179   To take your lovers on the road with you, for all that you leave them behind you,
180   To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.

181   All parts away for the progress of souls,
182   All religion, all solid things, arts, governments -- all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the procession of souls along the grand roads of the universe.

183   Of the progress of the souls of men and women along the grand roads of the universe, all other progress is the needed emblem and sustenance.

184   Forever alive, forever forward,
185   Stately, solemn, sad, withdrawn, baffled, mad, turbulent, feeble, dissatisfied,
186   Desperate, proud, fond, sick, accepted by men, rejected by men,
187   They go! they go! I know that they go, but I know not where they go,
188   But I know that they go toward the best -- toward something great.

189   Whoever you are, come forth! or man or woman come forth!
190   You must not stay sleeping and dallying there in the house, though you built it, or though it has been built for you.

191   Out of the dark confinement! out from behind the screen!
192   It is useless to protest, I know all and expose it.

193   Behold through you as bad as the rest,
194   Through the laughter, dancing, dining, supping, of people,
195   Inside of dresses and ornaments, inside of those wash'd and trimm'd faces,
196   Behold a secret silent loathing and despair.

197   No husband, no wife, no friend, trusted to hear the confession,
198   Another self, a duplicate of every one, skulking and hiding it goes,
199   Formless and wordless through the streets of the cities, polite and bland in the parlors,
200   In the cars of railroads, in steamboats, in the public assembly,
201   Home to the houses of men and women, at the table, in the bedroom, everywhere,
202   Smartly attired, countenance smiling, form upright, death under the breast-bones, hell under the skull-bones,
203   Under the broadcloth and gloves, under the ribbons and artificial flowers,
204   Keeping fair with the customs, speaking not a syllable of itself,
205   Speaking of any thing else but never of itself.


206   Allons! through struggles and wars!
207   The goal that was named cannot be countermanded.

208   Have the past struggles succeeded?
209   What has succeeded? yourself? your nation? Nature?
210   Now understand me well -- it is provided in the essence of things that from any fruition of success, no matter what, shall come forth something to make a greater struggle necessary.

211   My call is the call of battle, I nourish active rebellion,
212   He going with me must go well arm'd,
213   He going with me goes often with spare diet, poverty, angry enemies, desertions.


214   Allons! the road is before us!
215   It is safe -- I have tried it -- my own feet have tried it well -- be not detain'd!

216   Let the paper remain on the desk unwritten, and the book on the shelf unopen'd!
217   Let the tools remain in the workshop! let the money remain unearn'd!
218   Let the school stand! mind not the cry of the teacher!
219   Let the preacher preach in his pulpit! let the lawyer plead in the court, and the judge expound the law.

220   Camerado, I give you my hand!
221   I give you my love more precious than money,
222   I give you myself before preaching or law;
223   Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me?
224   Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?


Composition Date:
not known.
copings: sloping top of a wall.
efflux: expiration.
seine: fishing net.
Allons: "Let us go" (French).
formules: prescribed rules.
thews: muscles.

200 More miles

Michael Timmons

Atlanta's a distant memory
Montgomery a recent blur
and Tulsa burns on the desert floor
like a signal fire

I got Willie on the radio
a dozen things on my mind
and number one is fleshing out
these dreams of mine

I've got 200 more miles of rain asphalt in line
before I sleep
But there'll be no warm sheets or welcoming arms
to fall into tonight

In Nashville there is a lighter
in a case for all to see
it speaks of dreams and heartaches
left unsung

And in the corner stands a guitar and
lonesome words scrawled in a drunken hand
I'm travelling paths travelled hard before
and I'm beginning to understand

That I've got 200 more miles of rain asphalt in line
before I sleep
But there'll be no warm sheets or welcoming arms
to fall into tonight

They say that I am crazy
my life wasting on this road
that time will find my dreams
scattered dead and cold

But ahead there is a light
drawing me to reach on
and when I reach there, I'll turn back
and you and I can begin again

I've got 200 more miles of rain asphalt in line
before I sleep
But there'll be no warm sheets or welcoming arms
to fall into tonight

I've got 200 more miles of rain asphalt in line
before I sleep
But I wouldn't trade all your golden tomorrows
for one hour of this night

Atlanta's a distant memory
Montgomery a recent blur
and Tulsa burns on the desert floor
like a signal fire