a red heart painted on a white wall

Rat Sailors

All music, words and performance by The Paltry Sum
The clipper ship rolled down the Hudson steering into port
On it's bow a black freight liner and on it's helm was caught
A returning sailor coming home from sea
Shouting all you who have sailed far
You're coming home to me.
To me.

All the Jim Jims in this town have left for the Vermont Hills
Some fled to Connecticut
Some they paid the bill:
The city is up for sale
Two peas in a lone brown shell
A handful of beads
A white line from William Tell....
I won't tell
The Captain he approached the dock
Set forth his Bill of Demands
You give this city back
To the lost and the forlorn
The Leather Jackets, the Mau Maus, the artists 
And the Freaks
In return we'll bring peace and calm
To those at land lost at sea...
You see...

Captain Jack and the Metal Machine Man
Were singing of Berlin,
As they loaded the cannon
And the sails they did trim
The Captain wore a silver wig
He carried a big cigar
Saying, "We can do this peacefully
Or we can go to war."
What's more...

I was sweeping the dorms in the
Old Chelsea Hotel
I had changed all the sheets
Drawn water from the ink well
Standing around, gathered 
In a crowd were the few
Souls that were left
Chanting
There are diamonds
In the mine
There's still treasure in the chest:
What's left?

We've Bobby guarding the bottle down on Desolation Row,
Ike's been a good old boy, he's gonna go with the flow.
The weathermen say there's one temperature and it's 
Hot in the city tonight,
Pirate Jenny's made up
And the Rider's have the Right
To Fight.

They've run the rigging up to steal 
Lady Liberty's cheap perfume - 
It's being used as smelling salts
For the fisher king, who's
Standing on the tomb
Of the ghost of a smile
The spirit of the haze
The walkers on the east side
Say it's been a perfect day...
No way...

Boiled bagels, antique labels
Margot Fonteyne's left shoe
Are thrown into the cooking pot
To brew that bitch's stew
I served it up in a leather cup
To the remnants of the scene
Drink deep all you sailors
Who have been lost 
At sea with me.

Peeking around the corner I saw Lester and little Jack Horner
Pulling thumbs and assorted plums out of a 
Television run on quarters
Dangling by a silken thread in the neon dome spotlight
The gardener and the Station Master 
Were testing out the lights
Turn on, tune in
The time's right.

Twenty thousand dollar silken vests
Hundred buck coffee cups
Were hurled at the painters
The hustlers and the schmucks
They returned fire with Plato
Verlaine and old Rimbaud
Throwing flowers at the 
Potter's field,
Hanging fairy lights
As they go...
So low...

I don't mean to suggest that
This is everything left that's pure
This city ain't seen that shit
Since Manhattan was goats and manure
Since fiddlers had songs to sing
Since the iron curtain fell
It's just this dirt is honest
And there's still stories
Left to tell
In Hell.

The Governor came to the gang plank
Solemnly carrying a cheap Macy's bag
Full of glassine envelopes
And mortuary toe tags
Here are the keys to the city, boys
Be sure to turn out the lights
I'm leaving for Cape Cod
Before day turns into night
Tonight.

As they disembarked the Captain
He handed out
Copies of the vinyl single - 
B side of Twist and Shout
Two hundred ermine brushes
A hundred burnt notebooks
Singing here are your weapons
If you need anything else
You had better loot..
Go look...

The fish truck's unloading yesterday's old news
Onto the streets where violence does spew
The rats they mounted a full attack
On an army of racoons - 
Who armed with rusty switchblades
Are protesting the right to chew
..Anything they choose..

The survivors are pleading with tears in their eyes
This is all just garbage,
It's not worth so many lives.
The racoon leader stood up
On his one remaining paw, 
Squinted rakishly and said
"Hey what's the score...
Anybody want some more?"

The rats all ran onto the retreating ship
Emptied of it's crew,
Claiming victory whilst on dry planks they chew.
The racoons feasted on the Golden Goose's egg:
The Tribeca is full of sharks
But none of us are dead...
Not yet.

The moral to this story, the end to this fairytale
Is not all rats are sailors, and not 
All racoons are for sale,
Not all keys are worth the dying,
Not all songs are to be sung;
The heat is not a cure
For that you need the sun...
I'm not done...

Heading out to San Jose
I made to turn around - 
I'd heard about some Luau
Going down in the next town,
They were burning effigies, 
They were cooking pork and beans,
So I rode into the sunset
Where a woman can be free
Not to please.

Postscript
Holding out a flower, holstering his gun
The Sheriff said "Don't leave, we're going underground...
Don't make a sound...

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