Talkin’ Sam Beckett Blues

I haven’t had a chance to pick up the new Bob Dylan album; so I don’t yet know what sort of horrors Bob has in store for us. I understand, however, that there’s some stuff about being sick set to Mexican music. You can derive from that what you will.

In the meantime, I thought I’d channel Bob a bit, see what I could pick up. I put on a denim jacket, slung my guitar around my neck, and walked around strumming E minor and talking through my nose long enough that I received the following transmission. Warning: objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

QUARTER TO HELL

Down in the bunker
It’s cold and it’s clean
You know what you need and you say what you mean
You’re thanking the gods for an artesian well
‘Cause up on the surface it’s a quarter to hell

Mistakes were made
By someone or other
Maybe the president or maybe his brother
But the oceans are swimming with a poisonous gel
And the topside winds blow a quarter to hell

Every day is like winter
With the snow ten feet deep
You can’t stay awake and you can’t fall asleep
Like to open a window and breathe fresh a spell
But the air is like kerosene dripping in hell

There’s pictures of yesterday
Fading out in their frames
All your friends and your places have forgotten their names
And the maps are all useless when you’re locked in a cell
Drawn up by architects on retainer to hell

Memory’s a parlour trick
That changes each day
You think that you got it when it just slips away
Was it dream or it real? There’s no way to tell
When you’re watching the clock at a quarter to hell

It’s too late to repent
It’s too late to regret
You can’t get it back
And you can’t get it yet
You can’t count the minutes
That’s gone or to come
All you have now is here
And that’s better than some

I guess you keep going
What else can you do?
The rough patch’ll pass in a century or two
Till then keep listening for a clear, piercing bell
That signals the time is a quarter past hell

About Steve Patterson

Steve Patterson has written over 50 plays, with works staged in Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Tampa, and other U.S. cities as well as in Canada and New Zealand. His works include: Waiting on Sean Flynn, Next of Kin, Farmhouse, Malaria, Shelter, Altered States of America, The Continuing Adventures of Mr. Grandamnus, Bluer Than Midnight, Bombardment, Dead of Winter, and Delusion of Darkness. In 2006, his bittersweet Lost Wavelengths was a mainstage selection at Portland Center Stage's JAW/West festival, and, in 2008, won the Oregon Book Award (he also was an OBA finalist in 1992 and 2002). In 1997, he won the inaugural Portland Civic Theatre Guild Fellowship for his play Turquoise and Obsidian. View all posts by Steve Patterson

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