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The Train Back to Ne' Orlins

            
 
 
                   The Train Back to Ne’ Orlins
                 
 
           Copyright 3-2008       Al "Doc" Mehl
 
 
I caught the train back to Ne’ Orlins, to Ne’ Orlins where I’m bound,
’Cause that’s the city where the mother of Black Ashton can be found.
He made me promise that I’d find her if this day would ever come,
He made me promise that I’d tell her that I’d known her only son,
He made me swear that I would share with her that I had been his friend;
That if he wasn’t always honest, he was loyal in the end.
 
I think I’ll tell her that he held his own ’round horses, men, or cattle,
Prob’bly tell her how he looked when he sat tall up in the saddle.
I’ll not tell her that he killed one man by gun, and one by knife,
Nor that he seemed convinced he’d never meet her in the afterlife.
I will not tell her when he fell his left foot caught up for a while;
Best I not tell her how he looked once he’d been dragged a quarter mile.
 
The whistle shouts out to announce that I have reached my destination;
Folks are starin’ at my cowboy hat as I walk out the station.
I stroll into town and ask around to find Loumiza Patches,
Someone points me to the river, says to find the steamboat “Natchez,”
Says she works there as a maid, but, in an odd discovery,
I find her standin’ on the roof, playin’ a steam calliope.
 
She’s makin’ music in the midday sun, a balmy half-past noon;
Up high, she plays her hymns and marches, and her song’s almost in tune.
You see, the boiler turns the water into steam that turns the paddle,
But some steam is lost, a tired exhaust spews from the churning battle,
And the engineer has plumbed that steam through pipes of different measure;
And Loumiza’s keyboard plays the tunes that give the white folks pleasure.
 
I climb ’board the boat, explain my purpose, with permission granted
I climb up the ladder to the roof, approach… then, both feet planted,
I reach out to shake her hand, I give my name, take in the views;
Then comes a terr’bly awkward pause… and then I break the awful news.
She nods her head, looks to the sky, and then she stares down at my feet;
She eyes the boots that mark me cowboy, as I quietly retreat.
 
I nod a “thank you” to the captain starin’ out the wheelhouse window,
As Loumiza’s fingers make the steam sing out “Cielito Lindo.”
In her mind, the faded remnants of a dream now cruelly taken;
In her melody, can’t help but see this mother’s heart is breakin’.
Then she sails away, and, though I couldn’t say I saw her cry,
I think I saw one drop of Mississippi mist…  there in her eye.
 
 
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