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Nine Stories


Tracks in the tall toadflax where he crawled,
Past Dodge Summit toward Athabasca falls,
Practicing his Avocets and Gnatcatcher calls
Walrus trudged along
While low in a lodgepole branch nearby
Barnyard Owl watched with an amorous eye

"What unprecedented gift does this afternoon provide?"
"I've flown across the sea where the soldierfish swam,
I've slept inside the shoe of the world's tallest man,
I saw Charlotte Corday with the knife in her hand;
It was nothing new
I've perched on Steele, Dakota's sandhill crane
I flew among the Paiutes before the Mormon rain,
I was in Virginia City for the stringing up of Clubfoot Lane
But I've never seen anything like you."
All untied, by and by!
But I'd pour the matrimony wine
All untied, by and by!
So if you're ever so inclined?"

"What from the air now calls to water on the land?
What from my seclusion does this charlatan demand?
What to do now with my best-laid eremetic plans?
I've been to the Arfaks where the Sicklebills fly,
Seen Tangier's acrobatics nine stories high
I was there at Appomattox back in '65 when the General arrived
But I've never been in this room before!
[aside] All untied, by and by!
That same old dream's trapped in my mind
I'm bound in ropes and on the firing line
Well, I wake up disappointed every time

[to Owl]: If the weather ever withers up your vine
Jacob knows a ladder you can climb
If that old thorn is still buried in your side,
Jacob knows a ladder you can climb?"

"Well, if your pacific rivers all run dry
Their clouds will fill my loud, corrupted sky
And if the pleasures of your heavens (should) ever end
That very ladder just as well descends!"

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