— Thanks to Bukka White & Julia Fields
Ghost Girls of Kansas City, northern Jersey, central Georgia, where you are flesh you inhabit the pimp’s embrace. Where you are flesh, Manitoba, West Virginia, tens on twenties on turnpikes to the motel you go for his mink, for his chromium cane, you go for things that help you hold on, dresses, tables, meals, time to dream in his El Dorado. Ghost Girls of South Carolina, please sit up and listen; this is no indictment. This is only fact and it is strange how gentle things like flowers like songbird songs like childhood mornings are the same as his hard earned gifts, an encouraging word, a room, a shower, a gold plated lighter, a gown. You don’t live off of flowers, don’t live off of songs, don’t stay a child all of your life. So the sadness of my song is the failure of my vision of you as the children of the ideal loving parents, is the failure of love and its harsh manipulation; the pimp is holding you closely in the dark of his all night sex, the future drawing you on to become a ghost, to lose control, to be pushed around as a matter of survival; the sadness is the lack of power to make it otherwise. Ghost Girls of Minnesota, you are not alone. It is 4:15 in the telephone ad-room. Star Alexander, a year out of high school, waits for the phone. 4:22. Nothing. She smokes a long cigarette. 4:26. She is paid for each minute, paid like the rest, everyone of us a beggar. Star, I multiply you times the birth rate and death rate. The world is a room. The world, the room, Ghost Girl Star, is vanishing under your smoke and the thoughts you hide, under the total product of our lives. Ghost Girls of Western Long Island, Buenas Aires, Saluda, Richmond, Virginia, Rene Allen is gone, qualuded out on the living room couch. The TV is on. The voice that bumps against her is the voice she’s tried to cultivate, voice of an actress, one of those people, the ones we know are real somewhere. Ghostly, fading, Rene, where? Ghost Girls of mid-state Missouri, insurance men of Sioux Falls, podunk mayors, steady handed sharks, all weak at the center, all fading like the weather, all bring themselves to bear in the face of one more lady: Jesse, by the track. Her man’s looking for dimes. She’s worried about what time the train will arrive. We’ve been singing about Jesse for a long time now. We treat her like Hell. then moan when she’s gone. She heads for the stationmaster. “What time does the train come in?” Cool, tall, the stationmaster points toward the track. “Go lean your head down, baby. When the rail starts popping you know that train is near. When you hear that whistle you know damn well it’s here. That’s how we tell time. Don’t need no clocks or watches. Train time’s our time. Brings the bacon home.” All these guys are assholes. Jesse finds a seat when the train arrives. She falls asleep beside a stranger. Ghost Girls of Mississippi, Gnome, Chicago, New York, Ghost Girls of California, Indiana, Sao Paulo, Quito, Spain, stuck between details and always ridden down by facts, by flesh that brings you to this song, It is love, love, love! that fills your fleeting with such sorrow.