Exit 178

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cd cover: the feral crow by scott ainslie©1997, Scott Ainslie. All rights
reserved.

I found you burying your face, like a boy who cries:
Ragdoll legs and broken arms, one shoe off and one shoe on.
Rain trickles inside the collar: Yellow slicker, 3:00 a.m.
Silent, skewed and thickening—-I touch your shadow with my hand.

And just outside the cast of the headlights,
Off the back of retinas rich with blood
Comes a reflection—barely seen,
Wild eyes turn from the road.

I still see the trailer weaving. I still see the misty lights.
High above the hillcrest dancing, brakelights smear a charcoal sky.
And tonight a stranger empties your pockets:
a toothbrush, comb, six dollars and change.

Lying alone on the pavement, your T-shirt soaked with a darkening rain
And just outside the cast of the headlights,
Off the back of retinas rich with blood
Comes a reflection—barely seen,

Wild eyes turn from the road.
Semis, like guardian angels, on the overpass tonight,
Standing on a shining highway, in the beautiful circling lights.
Dawn comes with its back to me—a dervish spinning crazily.

The wounded night still bleeds—something in my memory:
I used to fear the unknown eyes that held me in their hollow light.
Somehow they would always find me—Did they come for you tonight?
And just outside the cast of the headlights,

Off the back of retinas rich with blood
Comes a reflection—barely seen,
Wild eyes turn from the road.
Semis, like guardian angels, on the overpass tonight,

Standing on a shining highway in the beautiful circling lights.
Somehow they would always find me,
will they come for me tonight?

Personnel:

Scott Ainslie
Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Scott Petito
Bass
Jerry Marotta
Drums/Percussion
Marc Shulman
Electric Guitars
Peter Vitalone
Piano
Leslie Ritter & Beth Reineke
Harmony Vocals

The title of this song refers to an exit off Interstate-85 in Durham, NC, where coming home one evening at a little before three a.m., I found a motorcyclist who’d dumped his bike.
I managed to stop the late night truckers behind me by pulling into the center of the two lanes and slowing down, flashers on. I parked on the shoulder and got to him first.
The bike was laying on its side, quiet, its headlight staring off into the woods, a hundred yards beyond the rider who was wrapped in a yellow rain slicker, lying diagonally in the center of the road.
We protected his body and shepherded his soul, in the headlights of those tractor trailers, in a drizzling rain.
Over the next three days, I wrote a poem about it. A month or so later, I expanded it into a song.
Sometimes we write to embrace life, sometimes to put a little distance between us, a buffer.

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