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#1109810 - 07/01/16 10:02 PM An Unkindness of Ravens  
Joined: Dec 2000
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couchgrouch Online content
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cochise, az, usa
An Unkindness of Ravens ©2016 Robert George BMI

Me and my old donkey loped across the barren flatland
And my only weapon was the cross tucked in my hatband
We rode down a valley of mesquite and many thistles
And the four winds in the sunset were like pennywhistles
I could see that cow town looming in the distance
And I knew we’d make it there by moonrise with persistence
Cemetery Hill was just a mile outside that old town
And I saw a hunchback lay a tiny coffin in the cold ground
And a grieving mother knelt down by the gravesite weeping
And his hand upon her shoulder said her boy was only sleeping
Hounds began to howl and vermin rustled in the alleys
And there came a ghostly chill, black clouds gathered on the hill
And they blotted moonlight from the valley

Like an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens


I passed through a farm with acres that were dry n dusty
Crickets crawled across an axe and pitchfork that were rusty
Then I rode through town and saw that windows had been boarded
Sour breezes filled the streets and ev’ry breath was sordid
I recalled that town was founded by a cattle baron
And back then I felt a passion for his daughter Karen
I was just a young priest fresh from Tulane Seminary
But I lost my church and collar to her poison cherry
Long before me she’d corrupted many saints and martyrs
With her laudanum and lace and leather belts and garters
When I held her I had felt her deeper than a lover
When we coupled, merged and kissed her dark hair seemed to hover

Like an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens


Well, I passed the empty laundry and the livery stable
Hitched my donkey near the bar and took a window table
A one-legged girl pianist played some hymns and dirges
While a cowboy walked upstairs to satisfy his urges
That pianist’s hair was tinted with the hue of honey
But just like before the whores took all the cowboys’ money
Well, I tipped that girl a whiskey and a silver dollar
And I asked about the town I’d known as Titus Holler
She said there were strangers hereabouts like Swedes and Cajuns
Rumors flew of Pinkertons and other hired agents
There’d been wicked night wings perched upon the Baptist steeple
There’d been death and devil spawn, something unknown fed upon
This village and its people

Like an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Some say they’re a flying hearse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens


Until recently few maladies had proven fatal
Snakes bites here and there or infants dying in their cradle
Sometimes drunk prospectors fall and drown in flooded sluices
Rowdy lynch mobs hangin’ rustlers in a grove of spruces
Ropes around their necks they’d stand upon a wood crate scaffold
Some men’s eyes would bulge, some went blank and some looked baffled
Lady Primrose snuck out to the wetlands with a squire
Then a wig and derby were found floating in the mire
Since then spooks were spotted near the ruins of the Spanish Mission
Some repented of their deeds, clutched their crosses and their beads
Full of fear and superstition
And just last night some poor child had been exsanguinated
And some locals think the evil omens are related

To an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens


Old Doc Seward was a sawbones, dentist, vet and undertaker
He’d mend you and your mule and then help you meet your Maker
Seward’s wrists and elbows were afflicted with arthritis
It took hours and a quart of hooch to take an arm from Old man Titus
And though that procedure would be painful, long and risky
Seward never offered Titus one drop of that whiskey
Her own leg was crushed beneath a pig when she was seven
Yet she swore his shaky saw delayed her flight to heaven
Before he left old Seward said the village had a virus
And although his words were vague, he described a plague
Older than Anubis or Osiris
It was like the children of a mystic, dark Madonna
Picked the skeleton of this fat cow town like piranha

Or an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens

Then she said there’s no one left to press her dress or groom her filly
With Marie long gone this town feels lost without her café’s chili
And since old man Titus passed the town has seemed misguided
Few believe in what the city fathers have decided
Hopsing’s Chinese laundry and his stable are deserted
Some say his proposal to Marie was poorly worded
And the new young Pastor wouldn’t sanctify their marriage
They said their vows anyhow, and left there in a horse and carriage
Sheriff Wilson took off with his fam’ly last week in a wagon
With ten kinfolk packed in tight that ragged rig was draggin’
And someone behind the scenes had pulled the strings with cunning
Some townfolk were dead, some townfolk had fled
But me I had no stake in running

From an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens

When she said “goodnight” I walked up slowly to my room
Laid my hat beside the bed and lent my thoughts to gloom
And I dreamt about a tiny box inside a hateful hole
There were leaning crosses and dark wings on mossy stones
And I wondered if there was a way some lonely bones
Were a withered vessel for a free and grateful soul

Maybe all those eerie dreams provided me a warning
Cos I heard a knocking at my window in the dark of morning
Floating outside was a boy whose face and hair were muddy
Clods of sod were clinging to his blazer and his teeth were bloody
Though I headed for the door and my poor mind was muddled
What was waiting in the hallway left me even more befuddled
It was Karen and I felt my fleshly heart turn traitor
She was lovely and my greed for sin was even greater
Any moron can resist a graven idol
But desire is a bronco that few men can bridle
Then she looked into my eyes and threw her arms around me
I smelled foulness at my neck and felt her hair surround me

Like an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
some say they’re a flying hearse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens

Well, I grabbed my cross and pressed it up against that demon
Sulphur smoke poured off her pale skin and she started screamin’
She dove through the glass and bore the boy on wings of evil
And I thought of legends superstitious and medieval
Shibboleths of haunted castles that were European
Spooks who hailed from hoodoo islands in the Caribbean
Such a thing had passed through town and Karen was infected
Now she reigns as queen and innocents must be protected
I had much to be atoned for and my faith was tested
I deduced these demons had a lair where they nested

Like an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens

First I feared for that pianist in her little shack
She’d invite a boy in not suspecting an attack
And her breast would fill with futile silent screams
There were ranchers’ houses just outside of town
Gentlemen in long johns…Ladies fair in evening gowns
And their breaths could end in brutal violent dreams

With his tweed suit, curved pipe, spectacles and thinning white hair
Giles sat down to read and left the window open for the night air
He read Chaucer’s sonnets and sev’ral of Lord Byron’s
And then fell prey to a trio of seductive sirens
Seth the fiddler kept the Torah down to ev’ry jot and tittle
Soon he’ll hover outside windows with his crimson fangs and fiddle
There’s a shadow looming near the old hunchback grave digger
And he pulled his pistol but he never pulled the trigger
I unhitched my donkey when the darkness had retreated
We rode westward for a weapon that I needed
One thing I was sure of…Karen’s brood was quickly breeding
But only darkness knows, where the dead repose
When they’re finished feeding

Like an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens


I returned and searched the hotel rooms with daylight’s blessing
Karen could be anywhere and I was only guessing
And that top floor had been painted like a Mexican bordello
Rooms were red and brown and some were trimmed in yellow
When I checked that last room it was almost nightfall
She was in a purple armoire near a pink and white wall
She was sleeping peaceful and she had a ghostly pallor
And I told myself my desp’rate deeds were mostly valor
I petitioned God for power and my heart grew bolder
And I swung that farmer’s rusty axe above her shoulders
Then a spray of dark foam spattered on her lace and leather
Black blood burst out from her neck just like a thousand feathers

From an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Some say they’re a flying hearse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of raven
s

Well, the sun had almost vanished from the western sky
So I ran downstairs and dumped out jugs of rye
And my hat and cross were specked with scarlet stains
Went out to my donkey then I tossed a match inside
Checked on the pianist and I offered her a ride
And she held me tightly as we crossed the starlit plains

Lightning forked the distant foothills just like varicose veins
And the damned rode straight to hell in funeral cars of ghost trains
And the night wind carried echoes of my donkey braying
And the haunted bowing of a demon’s fiddle playing
Righteous men who stray will find redemption is a strange brew
Just a mouthful from its ancient mystic cup can change you
Although there are many things ahead of us we don’t see
We have faith the wings awaiting our demises won’t be

From an unkindness of ravens
Some feel they’re a curse
Others say they’re something worse
That those forsaken by the light
Are then taken by the night
Into an unkindness of ravens


Two months later near a brothel outside Monterrey
There’s a young whore feeding kittens in an alleyway
And the moon is decorated by a silver wreath
And there’s a hunchback with a wicked grin and pointed teeth…
[i][/i]

Last edited by couchgrouch; 07/02/16 03:17 AM.
#1110050 - 07/06/16 06:06 PM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Jun 2006
Posts: 7,712
Jim Colyer Offline
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Posts: 7,712
Nashville, Tennessee usa
Good story from Arizona!

#1110125 - 07/07/16 02:00 PM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: Jim Colyer]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,450
couchgrouch Online content
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cochise, az, usa
Thanks Jim...and you deserve a medal for wading through all that. smile

#1110135 - 07/07/16 04:05 PM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 10,377
John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2000
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If this was mine I'd....

What AM I saying. I could NEVER EVER accomplish something like this.

Oh and added kudos for exsanguinated smile



If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

iAccountant --- Info L inc --- Taxboard
#1110138 - 07/07/16 04:19 PM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: John Voorpostel]  
Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 5,920
Vicarn Offline
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Vicarn  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2010
Posts: 5,920
UK
This is an epic.
I found myself singing along to the tune of "A hard Rain's gonna fall".
Excellent write.

Vic


It's never too late? Yes it is, so do it now.

If, given time, a monkey can write the complete works of Shakespeare maybe there's hope for me.

http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/vicarnold2

http://www.soundclick.com/vicarnold

http://soundcloud.com/vic-arnold

#1110411 - 07/10/16 03:43 PM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: Vicarn]  
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couchgrouch Online content
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cochise, az, usa
Thanks guys. I was mentally exhausted after writing this and have just written my first two lyrics since. smile

#1122055 - 01/06/17 11:35 PM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,450
couchgrouch Online content
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couchgrouch  Online Content
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cochise, az, usa
Bump. smile

#1122059 - 01/07/17 03:10 AM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2016
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Deej56 Offline
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Deej56  Offline
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Wow, I used to get grief about my "long" poems that were but a haiku compared to this. It's an incredible effort to pen something this long with a rhyme scheme, and I appreciate what it must have taken. Thanks for sharing.

#1122114 - 01/07/17 07:23 PM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,450
couchgrouch Online content
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cochise, az, usa
thanks DJ...I think it took about eight hours. it was pretty grueling but I'm fairly proud of it. I hope to look back on it with a similar pride as I get older. smile

#1145333 - 10/12/18 10:35 AM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2000
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cochise, az, usa
Bump for All Hallows... smile

#1145360 - 10/13/18 08:11 AM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 82
rubysshoes Offline
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Joined: Jun 2009
Posts: 82
columbus ohio
THIS. IS. EPIC.

Robert, I bow to your skill. I had chills all the way through.

Pure genius.

#1145364 - 10/13/18 10:50 AM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2000
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cochise, az, usa
Thanks Ruby. If you like this, have a listen to the Underground Railroad medley on the mp3 forum. smile

#1146564 - 11/28/18 09:45 AM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Feb 2005
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Dave Rice Online content
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Dave Rice  Online Content
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Texas
Just curious... I know this is a fairly old lyric-post... but I wonder if you ever recorded it? I'm guessing that... IF YOU DID RECORD IT... it would probably take three sessions... LOL!

I have trouble remembering my own lyrics and despite the wonderful storytelling here... I don't believe a person with incredible memory skills could get it done in one session. Then, if commercial viability is to be considered... unless you get a big name artist to record it... the five minute rule is probably going to spell "doom" from the start.

My advice, fool that I am, would be to begin whittling and do your best to pare the story... "Song" if you will... down to something less than four minutes.

It really is a great story. Perhaps you might prefer to turn it into a Novel! LOL!

Finally, I wish you wouldn't give poor Ravens such a bad rap!

Thanks for sharing... and I hope you know I'm only poking a little fun at you... and feel free to poke right back at me!

All the best, ----Dave

#1146566 - 11/28/18 10:24 AM Re: An Unkindness of Ravens [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,450
couchgrouch Online content
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cochise, az, usa
Dave, this was originally an idea for a novel. At the time I thought I didn't have it in me to write a book. I just finished my fourth and I'm proofing it before it goes on Kindle.

I don't think this could ever be a song. It's too long and involved. I just consider it a poem. Along with the six poems that make up the Strange Cargo tale, I think it's the best writing I'll ever do. And maybe Pyramid Scheme.

Two of the Strange Cargo poem/lyrics were turned into The Underground Railroad medley with the wonderful aid of Ricki and Mike.

You can read the whole Strange Cargo saga in my book of poems/lyrics and short story called Americana on Kindle for 2.99. It's also free somewhere on JPF and Taxi. smile

Last edited by couchgrouch; 12/05/18 01:32 PM.

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