Ashland

Written 1988

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waiting on a Greyhound in Ashland, Tennessee,
a too-thin woman is eying the sky nervously
and from the bigness of her eyes, I’d say
she’s been afraid for a very long time
the lady in pink is smoking a cigarette,
she’s blocking out the world with an old tape player, and yet
when she lifts her sunglasses to smile at me, I look down and walk away
I’m headed home and there isn’t too much to say.

and the high school student strikes a pose, gazing up at the sun
her bleached-blond hair permed back unwillingly
but I think she could be pretty, yeah, I’m sure she could be pretty
waiting for a bus in Ashland, Tennessee

a man buys his son some lunch from a vending machine,
a bag of cheese doodles, and some kind of soda that’s green
then he gives the boy a plastic egg, and it’s opened up with glee
the plastic gun inside is a gift, you see
the teenage couple stare, they seem confused
he’s looking grimy, she’s looking tiny and used
and her childlike feet seem out of place in a tight pair of black leather shoes
I don’t know where they’re going, but I hope they get there soon

and the high school student strikes a pose, gazing up at the sun
her bleached-blond hair permed back unwillingly
but I think she could be pretty, yeah, I’m sure she could be pretty
waiting for a bus in Ashland, Tennessee

there is an old black man moving luggage from one bus to the other
and he’d look the same on a black and white TV
but he moves so softly, no one sees him, hardly even me
maybe he is waiting to die, maybe he is waiting to retire
maybe he’s just waiting for the bus to leave

and I guess were all just striking poses, gazing up at the sun
you make up your own analogy
but I think this could be pretty, yeah, I’m sure it could be pretty
waiting for a bus in Ashland, Tennessee

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