Sunday, August 23, 2009

Darkness Visible - Series of Dreams #12

Darkness visible
Rain Clouds audible
So long, Maggie
I'm goin' back to Indiana….

The last song.The last lights go out on the carnival Midway. Circus Tent comes down. Clyde Beatty throws horsemeat to his two old African lions. The midgets are doing amyl nitrate poppers. The train is leaving. Out on the highway, the circus front man is one town or two states away; nailing posters up on creosote poles. He's got a headlight out. In more ways than one. His girl ran off with The Holy Ghost of Indiana. At least he thinks she did. He can’t be sure. Depression and bone-deep confusion run in the family. He does not have intellectual access to Williams Styron's book, "Darkness Visible," but he feels the whole thing anyway. By hillbilly osmosis.
Fell in love with the pony ride girl
Round and round her little pony's twirl
Sparkling eyes and curly curls
She went back to Indiana….

Something is closing in…out in Texarkana he sees an old guy pushing a shopping cart full of empty tin cans and broken bottles. Our carnival man pretends he is not seeing his future. He pulls into Shorty's Super Mart; goes in for a bottle of strawberry soda. Big Red. Tells Shorty he's heading for Indiana, in search of his one true love. Shorty laughs. "Didn't you say the same thing on your last three go-rounds through here? Let me tell you somthin' kid. Dreamin' dreams is like chewin' gum…chew too long, it all turns to stone." And there we'll leave our man as the credits roll. Dazed. Between the plains of the buffalo and the wild dogs of Mexico.
Turn the record over. Medicine for the ritual. Begin the circle again. The carnival circuit. The real message, in these series of dreams, lies somewhere between the blood and the candle smoke. Don't look down, friends, the ground might be burning.

And this road is dark at night
When you've only got one headlight
And you've lost your appetite
For idle dreaming….
Nailing posters up on creosote poles
Fallin' asleep, running off the road….
Don't ask for whom the bell tolls
It tolls for me…In Indiana.

(Series of Dreams #12. The final episode of stories concerning 12 songs on the coming album: Blood and Candle Smoke. Now available by pre order from


Saddle Tramp said...

" I do not like happy stories "

Quoted from a cartoon caption that randomly popped up within the digital edition of The New Yorker's August 24th edition article " State of Grace " [ Leonard Cohen's Return ] and it is fortunate for us, but unfortunate for Leonard, that he was forced back on the road due to a black hearted manager that absconded with all but a fraction of his money ...
The story begins in a mental hospital ...

" Honesty is a fine quality Max, but it isn't the whole story "
Another random cartoon caption ...

saddle tramp

Via: Omaha, Nebraska under the giant Coffee Pot water tower at Sapp Bros. Truck Stop ...

Anonymous said...

Uhhh, yeah...

And as for the rest of the gawkers and maniacal madmen, we were left speechless.

Saddle Tramp said...

Point well taken Abner and with a reverential silence I bow to your sentiment ...

The appreciation for Tom's spellbinding post has I am sure hastened the pre-orders for Blood and Candle Smoke as it did for me. Leonard Cohen knew well the Darkness Visible and that was the connection for me when I came upon the New Yorker article. Unless you have been one of the unfortunates ( as I have been ) to be consumed and shackled by this darkness, you cannot fully appreciate the debilitatating nature of it. This song reaches to the depths
of me. Leonard ascended to Mt. Baldy to overcome his darkness which had been inescapable up to that point. He achieved the " Happy Leonard " state he is now in as a result of his Mt. Baldy experience. He could at last
appreciate a shiny chrome bumper for the first time in his
life on his return back to Boogie Street. However, many
fall victim to the fate of the circus front man as in Tom's song. It ain't pretty! I have had my arms around madness
as well. The stigma of mental illness is not an easy one to overcome and an even more difficult one to live with. Yes, darkness is visible and it can feel like a curse with an
anchor of guilt that drags you down to the furthest depths
of despair at times. There must be a heaven because I have seen the innocent ones here in hell ...
And yes, the ground just might be burning ...
And I also believe there are manholes in hell.
Dante knew more than a few things about that as did the author that inspired the title of this song ...

saddle tramp

Via: Greenwood, Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

this is a great find. i'm a longtime fan and fellow songwriter, i've always found your work inspirational though a bit daunting.

keep it up, man. i hope the new record does well. take care of yourself out there.

kasey anderson