© 2019 Mark Browning All Rights Reserved

​TAKE ME TO THE WATER

Heart of spring
Dances in a robin’s throat
And out from nowhere comes
The sun’s first sudden glow. 
Bound to the struggle
Bound to the rhythm and rhyme
And from the hills and valleys
Rise men and towns

   Take me to the water
   Let the water flow down
   Take me to the water
   Let it take me where I’m bound

Into the clearing 
Strides a buck in stoic grace
And the archer’s arrow flies
Right into place
Before the evening fire
Eyes lock in passionate heat
While the ever changing nature
Of time strikes a beat

   Take me to the water   

   Let the water flow down   

   Take me to the water   

   Let it take me where I’m bound

 

Down from the mountain
Float leaves of gold and brown
While the remnants of winter lay scattered
Cross frozen ground
Whispers in the lamplight
Whispers in the wind on high
And in the cold hour of dawn
Comes a new born baby’s cry.

   Take me to the water
   Let the water flow down
   Down, down, down
   Down, down, down, down!
 

       EMMA MAE

There ain't no doctor 
That can cure this achin' heart
There ain't no lawyer
Gonna tear these laws apart
Just a pretty blue-eyed girl
Somewhere in the world, it’s up to her.

I leave a crowded club
And go walkin along the curb of the street
I go out to the pier
And stand looking out to sea
And as I turn
I see her starin at me                                                               

    Come slowly, come softly
    Emma Mae!

Children in rags they search
And through the streets they run
And all around them now
Pours the sound of foreign tongues

But the ringing note we make
Is quite clearly sung


That lonesome beggar finds me
And tells me with a sigh
There's no hope left for us now
And the time is drawing nigh
I look past his face
To the stars up in the sky

     Come slowly, come softly
     Emma Mae!

I take the path that climbs the hills
Up, up into the night
And breathless at the top I stand
Peaceful in the night
From here the town 
Is but yellow squares of light

All the ancient stones and paths
Lay covered in the rain
But the design is everywhere
Every object calls your name
And the beat of the sea
Is like the blood in my veins

     Come slowly, come softly
     Emma Mae!

My hand is now outstretched
And it will not go away
My voice has joined the wind
And there it seems to stay
And the ship with white sails
Is waiting in the bay

       Come slowly, come softly
       Emma Mae!
 

 

              DARK MOON

 

A wind kicks up from nowhere, rattling the panes

Slams all the doors shut, then opens them again

People look around them and they know that something’s up

But they just can’t find the pulse and they feel so out of touch

 

Hear the people talking, talking about events

They talk around in circles, then they come back again

No one’s ever told them how to exit from this room

But there’s no talking sense up in Quicktown in the light of this dark moon

 

        Dark moon, lost in reddish haze...

        Dark moon, affecting all our days...

 

Better to live your own life by your own device

In a time when the laws of nature are the only that apply

You might get lonely but at least you’re standing in the sun

Just don’t let them kill you by degrees, make them take you all at once

 

I remember your sweet face the last time that we met

You turned to walk away, then you stood there on the step

We both had words to say but it was happening too soon

And then you disappeared into the light of this dark moon

 

Dark moon, in my heart you dwell...

Dark moon, when will you break your spell?

 

In the abandoned chapel lays an open book

The wind blows through the pages as if to take a better look

Babies are crying, men are strategizing war

And the threat of the ages shakes the people right down to their core

 

The curse of Oppolamayah lingers around like smoke

The more the people hear those words, they know that they’re no joke

And from the firelight they wander in the gloom

With all eyes on the sky in the light of this dark moon

With all eyes on the sky in the light of this dark moon

With all eyes on the sky in the light of this dark moon

   CALIFORNIA BREEZES

California breezes

Shake your raven hair

Smile that smile of pleasure

That would be noticed anywhere

 

She came in over the ranges

She came in over the sea

She got mixed up with moonlight

And some ancient mystery

 

And in our seaside tower

We dance a dance no dance can be

And I can only watch in wonder

As she walks in the evening breeze

 

And she turns in a certain fashion

And her eyes burn dark and bright

Her hips twitch just like a kitten’s

And her lips seem so full of life

She says, there’s a storm comin honey

You need to hold me tight

 

I came in here from nowhere

Even the wind didn’t know my name

 

I feel flocks of birds sailing

Over a sea of black and gold

Tropical winds a-blowing

Across this planetary soul

Nighttime curtain’s falling

The stars turning blue and cold

Come here and touch me

And make this moment unfold

 

California breezes

Shake your raven hair

Smile that smile of pleasure

That would be noticed anywhere

      MYSTERY

 

When that mockingbird sings at midnight

The world is like a dream

Nothing's what it used to be

There’s a veil over everything

 

Reflections on the water

Reflections in my eyes

It seems all these reflections

Are but a thin disguise

 

No answer to my question

But silence is the key

I will go as I came

Lost in mystery

 

My best thoughts come at midnight

My mind goes out for miles

It roams the rings of Saturn

And stays here all the while

 

My past plays like a movie

It's such a ribald tale

The people I have known

I see in fine detail

 

No answer to my question

But silence is the key

I will go as I came

Lost in mystery

 

Li li li li li ….

 

I keep trying to pull that curtain

From that hidden face

I think I catch a glimpse of it

But it keeps falling back in place.

 

Everywhere there’s a voice

That’s sings in no man’s tongue

Everyone gets to hear it

They just can’t tell anyone.

 

No answer to my question...

But silence is the key

I will go as I came

Lost in mystery

 

Li li li li li ....

 

There’s no way to name

With what I commune

The night is my cathedral

My chalice is the moon

 

The sky’s a velvet blanket

The stars are silver jewels

And the mockingbird sings his heart out

Are we angels or are we fools?

 

No answer to my question...

But silence is the key

I will go as I came

Lost in mystery

I will go as I came

Lost in mystery

         NO TIME LIKE THIS

 

There’s something happenin here baby

Come take a look

This breeze blowin through the window

Just shut my book

The neighbor lady’s plantin flowers

There’s mud on her knees

The dog’s runnin circles all through the trees

 

Sunshine pourin down

Castin patterns of shade

Honey grab your hat

Let’s promenade

Beneath the branches

Of the blowin trees

Let’s just keep them company

 

                And down that road

                Where your footsteps flow

                You can see all the way to where your heart

                Wants to go

 

                And there’s no time like this to make dreams come true

                Yes, no time like this to make dreams come true!

 

Crescent moon arisin

Through that indigo sky

That cow that jumped over

Man how she could fly!

Little kids tellin stories

On the old stone wall

Laughter and whispers

Tell it all

Old man standin straight and tall

Red bird singin

Hear him call

Hear him call, hear him call, hear him call, hear him call

Hear him call, hear him call, hear him call, hear him call

Hear him call!

 

                And down that road

                Where your footsteps flow

                You can see all the way to where your heart

                Wants to go

 

                And there’s no time like this to make dreams come true

                Yes, no time like this to make dreams come true!

BOY GOIN HOME

When first you came knocking
To my door
Barefoot and smiling
How innocent we were
Love striking two hearts
To start a boy going home

When first you came knocking
To my door
Barefoot and smiling
How innocent we were
Love striking two hearts
To start a boy goin home

Cats in the window
In our house on the hill
From all appearances
All was going well
Except for a certain unpaid debt
Of a boy going home

Lights of the city
Burning busy and bright
Where the eyes of a stranger
Could seem so full of light
Until the dealer flicked the switch
On a boy going home. 

Drawn to a fire
I fed from dusk to dawn
Little knowing that what I burned
Was the love I lived on.
Such is the darkness of the road sometimes
For a boy going home

Now I’m doing solitary
There’s not a soul around
It’s a funny prison though    
All the walls are blown down
It takes some time for the world to return
To a boy going home

New moon rising
Eyes growing clear
The feeling that someone I know
Is standing so near
The reflection in the water shows
The boy that came home. 
 

         AMERICAN SKY

 

Red dirt field in muscadine shade

Pretty little girl selling lemonade

You get your brothers and I’ll get mine

And we’ll play ball till whippoorwill time

 

Crack of the bat and roll of the ball

Can’t you hear your momma call?

Laundry hanging on the line

We might get home by suppertime

 

   Red dirt field

   Warm and bright

   There, it burns in my memory.

 

Don’t you know we were growing up?

Don’t you know we were wild and tough?

Don’t you know we were drinking from the cup

Of the American sky?

 

Bully coming on way too strong

I beat him on the bases all day long

He came at me with fist and foot

I gave to him as good as I got

 

Blue jay in the persimmon tree

Jody Turner waving at me

Blood running fast in my veins

A thousand dreams running through my brain

 

   Red dirt field

   Warm and bright

   There, it burns in my memory.

 

Don’t you know we were growing up?

Don’t you know we were wild and tough?

Don’t you know we were drinking from the cup

Of the American sky?

 

Scarlet sun hanging low

Rollin river in the afterglow

Fisherman casts in his line

The wind rises softly in the pines

 

Chorus of calls in the night

Ancient book opened to the light

Moths against my window pane

Tomorrow comes another day

 

    Red dirt field

    Warm and bright

    There, it burns in my memory.

 

Don’t you know we were growing up?

Don’t you know we were wild and tough?

Don’t you know we were drinking from the cup

Of the American sky?

​                 A MILLION MILES FROM SALVATION

You’re playing blackjack in the anteroom with a monkey and a priest
The monkey won’t stop jabberin about how you’re such a beast
Your skin is crawling from the awful thought that the monkey's really where it’s at
Well you’re a million miles from salvation
But two steps away from a tin foil hat

There’s ten men in a darkened room deciding all our fates
You’ve given up on everything and now all you do is wait
Every time your teacher calls out to you, you think that it’s a trap
You’re a million miles from salvation
But two steps away from a tin foil hat

When the wise man approaches you and tries to tell the truth
You point your pistol to your head and say, “One step closer or I’ll shoot!”
When he stoops to tie your shoelace you run screaming off the map
You’re a million miles from salvation 
But two steps away from a tin foil hat

Your savior was coming back for you just about any day
But it seems he got distracted somewhere along the way
So you throw the knowledge of the ages on the junkheap and sell it off as scrap
Well you’re a million miles from salvation
But two steps away from a tin foil hat

Someone yells there’s a concrete wall just around the bend
And you grab the wheel and hit the gas and scream “Full speed ahead!”
You can’t help but smile and say, “I’m no fool for this conspiracy crap.”
I’m a million miles from salvation
Now will you please hand me that tin foil hat!

 

 

​​
 

                 WALKIN INTO TOWN

 

Walked on down the forested hillside through the slowly‑rising silver of early winter haze

Tired trees smothered in some clinging vine, woods littered with plastic jugs, old tires and battered cans

      of paint

Reached the border of the new six‑lane expressway and watched my shadow dance along the base of a

     thirty foot retaining wall

And crossed high above it all on a catwalk covered with wire‑mesh to keep the people from throwing

     rocks on the cars below

With "I love Chrissie" on the wall, along with hearts and swastikas...

With the life‑blood of the city flowing at sixty miles an hour beneath my feet

 

     Toss a prayer to the open skies

     Like a magic arrow piercing concrete lies

     Into the heart of history's long lonesome cries

     And now I’m standing here so revitalized

 

Overhead, like an arrowhead, a Cooper's hawk folds its wings and disappears into distant country

I pass the cold foundations of demolished homes jutting out of the hillside like old man's rotted, broken teeth

Worn cellar stairs leading nowhere...except maybe the imaginary beds and living rooms of just faded

      years

Where the ghosts of conversation, prayers, and oaths, and incantations still linger

Each step like a question mark to which all these ghosts have no reply...

And a dry wind blows across town and scrapes the weeds against the stones

 

     Old Man King, come and see

     Pass some judgement, let it be

     So these children can finally shake free

     From all these wagon loads of destiny

 

In front of the old corner church a faded poster of paradise beckons all souls to come on in

I nearly slip on a gob of infected spit in front of the x‑rated theatre promising unknown passion and

      forbidden sin

Across the oily river the city hums and gleams like some silver-platinum castle in the sun

Where the sun itself is split into ten‑thousand  images of hungry, burning tongues of flame

Some guy on the corner says "What you starin' at?"  And I say "Never mind, the wizard is gone."

Meanwhile behind curtains of light and shade a hand moves that is really no hand at all...

 

     In this jumble of love and waste

     Try and find some sacred place

     To hold these myths you've finally traced

     Search in every changing face...