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Potter's field

by Tom Waits


Well you can buy me a drink and i´ll tell you what i seen
and i´ll give you a bargain from the edge of a maniac´s dream
that buys a black widow spider with a riddle in his yarn
that´s clinging to the furrow of a blindman´s brow
i´ll start talking from the brim of a thimble full of whiskey
on a train through the bronx that will take you just as far
as the empty of a bottle to the highway of a scar
that stretched across the blacktop of my cheek like that
and then ducks beneath the brim of a fugitive´s hat
and you´ll learn why liquor makes a stool pigeon rat on every face
that ever left his shadow down on saint marks place

hell i´d double cross my mother if it was whiskey that they payed
and so an early bird says nightsticks on the hit parade
and he ain´t got a prayer and his days are numbered
and you´ll track him down like a dog
well it´s a tough customer you´re getting in this trade
Óause the nightstick´s heart pumps lemonade
well whiskey keeps a blindman talkin alright
and i´m the only one who knows just where he stayed last night

he was in a wreckin yard in a switchblade storm
in a wheelbarrow with nothing but revenge to keep him warm
and a half a million dollars in unmarked bills
was the nightstick´s blanket in a febuary chill
and as the buzzard drove a crooked sky
he was dealin high chicago in the mud
and stackin´ the deck against a dragnet´s eye
a shivering nightstick in a miserable heap
with the siren for a lullaby singing him to sleep
he was bleeding from a buttonhole
torn by a slug fired from the barrel of a two dollar gun
that scorched a blister on the grip of a punk by now
is learnin what you have to pay to be a hero anyhow

he dressed the hole in his gut with a hundred dollar bandage
a king´s ransom for a bedspread that don´t amount to nuttin
just cobweb strings on a busted ukulele
and the nightstick leaned on a black shillelagh
with the poison of a junkie´s broken promise on his lip

he staggered in the shadows screaming i ain´t never been afraid
and he shot out every street light on the promenade
past the frozen ham and eggers at the penny arcade
throwin out handfuls of a blood stained salary
they were dead in their tracks at the shootin gallery
and they fired off a twenty one gun salute
and from the corner of his eye he caught the alabaster orbs
and from a dime a dance hall girl and stuffed a thousand dollar bill
in her blouse and caught the cruel and unusual punishment of her smile
and the nightstick winked beneath a rainsoaked brim
ain´t no one seen hide nor hair of him see
no one but a spade on rikers island and me
and so if you´re mad enough to listen to a full of whiskey blindman
then you´re mad enough to look beyond where bloodhounds dare to go
so if you want to know just where the nightstick´s hidin out
you be down at the ferry landin oh let´s say bout half past a nightmare
when it´s twisted on a clock you tell ´em nickels sentcha
whiskey always makes him talk
and you ask for captain charon with the mud on his kicks
he´s the skipper of the deadline steamer
and she sails from the bronx across the river styx
and a riddle´s just a ticket for a dreamer

cause when the weathervane´s sleepin and the moon turns his back
you crawl on your belly long the railroad tracks
and cross your heart and hope to die and stick a needle in your eye
cause he´d cut my bleedin heart out if he found out that i squealed
cause you see a scarecrow´s just a hoodlum
who marked the cards that he dealed
and pulled a gypsy switch
out on the edge of potter´s field





 

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