Portrait by Bill Daniel - creator of 'Who Is Bozo Texino?'


Coaltrain Hobo Music

Coaltrain they called him
He came out the east
Riding the rail in the
Thin trails of light
He ignited a fire
Set about a howling
Torching, tire-squealing feast
For he packed green notes
In a pewter pot
Long rolls of dough
To blow through
On wine
On women
On song
On knowing everything and nothing
And fixing to belong
And fighting in the dirt
Fighting standing up
And falling down
Fighting as a verb, as a noun
Fighting tooth and nail
For belief, for passion
For freedom
Against pale prejudice
For coins
To avert bitterness
Fighting over lonely eyes
For hunger
For the play of the wind in an empty street
Fighting For Air
Without cease
Without remorse
Breaking skin, still less peace
And even the band stops playing
And the dogs release
As they brawl
For he came from the east
Cast in copper pawl
Soon the time with money
Was bare memory
Scant mentions of
Slim little honey-notes
In the foothills of more encroaching daylight
And even his taste for a fight was worn
Gathered coins gritty
There was pity
Pretty little tongues of scorn
That he read
And learned
to dread
And roared at the night, said
'I am not nothing
I am I
And this I shall be
Until I die'
Then the jackals crept
Amongst his limbs
The hyaena laughter carried
To all ears
And Coaltrain slept between
Bare gutters
The stutters of a wreck or
Mannish boy
These faculties we employ
To protect
And destroy the parasites
Are veneer
Paper thin vestiges
Of the daily fight
To disappear
Which way to implore?
Which way is right?
The music is his last delight
Cold comfort;
Death takes him
In full sight sold
To the marching, unknowing, unfeeling throng
Denied the right to belong
The last Coaltrain Hobo Song