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Sweet Mary


I lived at home as a young man
full of fears that paralyze
I was a believer in truth
and the truth was a lie
then I slept with Sweet Mary
and she made me realize
there are more ways to be born
than there are ways to die

When I was a young boy
I could count one to ten
I caught snakes in glass jars
and kept them for friends
A glass jar’s good intentions
but no natural bed
coiled and uncoiling
and your days never end

I saw the black bird on the sapling
I saw the snake on the stone
Black bird flew down
and took him for her own
That’s the world turns,
that’s the way we must go
You can never be free
till you can be swallowed whole

I’ve stayed true to Sweet Mary
she hides my pain when I call
Her throat’s like cold whiskey
she’s my wailing wall
And her breasts turn the leaves
spin you dreams where they fall
Go to her forgotten and empty
She will give you them all


I think Sweet Mary was the first song I ever wrote, maybe the second. It was more like a poem. I used to call it Sweet Mary Catbird, but then one day I learned that catbirds don’t eat snakes; they’re vegetarian. I was confusing the bird with the mammal, and changed catbird to black bird. A black bird could be a crow; and crows, like the French, the Chinese, the very rich, and me, will eat just about anything including snakes. So black bird meaning crow does fine. And of course a black bird could foreshadow death, snake on the stone devoured, perhaps a hint of Poe, The Raven, one of my favorite poems.

There are other verses I wrote later that have to do with this song as well. But I think they may become another song.

Sweet Mary was a very nice lady
very first lady I ever knew
She said, “Hey boy,
don’t you just stand there
Don’t you be shy now
Come over here.”

I walked to her
like the first steps of baby
following a butterfly
I walked to her
all through the daisies
I walked to her

I could never think of a last line and as of now end it with the egotistical I. Perhaps one day I will think of a final line. But it’s OK as it is. The thing is being comfortable and I am. When you don’t feel comfortable, it isn’t done, it isn’t you. Let it rest. Sleep on it. If you are lucky, live a year or two. Desires are meant to happen (if you keep them there somewhere in your mind and heart). And time will tell. All things are possible tomorrow.



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