Dear Cleveland

Dear Cleveland – A Short Play


Fat Bessie on the corner stares and glares

Watch your bony back, kid

Your small toy life is at auction

You’re about to be outbid

You’ve got this saint-like face

And this feline-like soul

And those juice-sniffing street mutts

Wanna devour it all

Kid on the corner glares and stares

Listen up Fat Bessie

My raven soul ain’t gonna fall

I’m gonna toil these tight streets

And I’m gonna lurch tall

I know these street-sniffing juice mutts

Are sniffin around the pall

But I ain’t no two-dime hoodwink

I’ll show em this Kid’s got gall!

Fat Bessie is an imp-tooth skeptic

She looks The Kid in the eye

I like you kid, but I sense you high and dry

Those shady businessmen,

They gonna pitch you ivory dreams

They gonna slide em through your veins like silver poems

And slip em like songs into your bloodstream

They’ll sniff for you when your earthly load

Is about to cut you down

When you are grinding low and ragged

Beneath your Satan’s crown

They’ll take your diamond eyes

And turn them into into glass

And you’ll be their new piece of shattered crystal

Bone-quick, and whip-fast

They’ll mount your memories on their walls

A badge of honour attached to their suits

In this city of sin and the wailing cat-calls

You’ll be their cutest new recruit

To keep you on the straight and slim

The only way to ride before the grim

Is to avoid the tempt of the amphetamine hymn

Before the lights go out and the sunny shine dim

The Kid is a short-tooth idealist

He looks her in the eye

I like you Fat Bessie, but I sense your words are awry

Fat Bessie, I’ve walked the streets of St Louis

Those wet pavements make silver muck of the clueless

I’ve seen murders and stick-em ups, and everything in between

I ain’t no backwater hillbilly, and I ain’t no kid in the meadow-green

I know you’ve walked the beat a right long time

You’ve seen the moonshine go up to a thousand and one rhymes

But you never met a Kid like me, No Sirreeee!

I’ve got this suit of armour and this brain of knives

I’ll take em lime green dollars and wink em into fives

Fat Bessie starts to fret

She quickdraws on her cigarette

Lemme tell you a story about a Boy I once knew

Not much older than you, and whip-cunning too

His ol papa love’ the booze

His ragged mama, too high to move

Uncle used to show his love to this boy

In that way that should never be proved

So Boy took the midnight bus from Asheville to Ohio

Left those falling leaves, to go dance where the wild lake wind blows

Started off smart, by husslin and gambling on hands that he couldn’t lose

Made some smooth cash and smoked some smooth hash and avoided the tourniquet bruise

Got himself a pretty young girlfriend, and a wee white-eared pup

Called that pup Eliza, and ruled those streets buck-up

Got emselves an old flat in the hills, and grew vegetables til frost

But a Christian soul gone to the devil always walks the path that’s the most lost

This boy had been livin the dream, happy as I had ever seen!

Til the day the devil o time came-a-callin for him

He fell to the the tempt of the dragon hymn

And after that his luck was slim

He rode that hellbreather into the grim

He had played a hand he was guaranteed to lose

And suddenly his luck was no longer somethin he could choose

Kid had no yards to pay up the debt collector man

So he gave up his wee trustin pup to the dog fight scam

That honey-natured puppy pleaded to the boy, don’t let em take me man, please

But the shadow man took poor Eliza, into a short future of pain and misery

Boy’s precious girlfriend started pushin off and she pushed her way to death

With a gun to his head and a needle in his arm, he wept  

This is not the life I imagined, ‘fore he took his final breath

Kid is silent, he’s watching Fat Bessie’s wet mouth move

I ain’t no fool like that Boy, I ain’t got no thing to prove!

Kid walks into the dark streets of Cleveland

A light skip in his sober stride

See you tomorrow, Bessie

To my blessed life you should pay me no mind


Up to the corner walks The Kid

His once clear eyes are empty, he looks like he’s been outbid

Fat Bessie these streets are weighing me down

I’m grinding beneath your Satan’s Crown

I bid my last dollar in this hustler playground

Jesus won’t never let me wear no white wedding gown

I wanna buy that lyrical high from the trench-coat man

I just wanna get some sugar relief as fast as I can

Fat Bessie on the corner glares and stares

Oh Kid. I knew these red streets would grey yo golden hair

In the dead of the beat, all I can hear is the Last Adam’s Prayer

There ain’t no town

Like misty Dear Cleveland

It’ll keep even the purest poet man

From his soul-warmin and his day dreamin

Eliot Ness

Said it best

When he left that mess

In this city we egress

It’s the serial killer town

It’s America’s tarnished crown

It’s the Jack O’ Lantern’s frown

These beige buildings will all fall down

It’s Bob’s Bizarre Bazaar

It’s a skeleton on a freight car

You’re a drifter, not a star

And you’ll never get far

It’s the Butcher of Kingsbury Run

It’s East America’s handgun

You say you having fun?

Kid, the blood hasn’t even begun

The Strangers will pour you a drink

While Jeffrey glims and slinks

It’s a City on the brink

So don’t you stop and blink

You’ll be a drop-dead smile

A black addict with no file

Remember, this is not “their” lifestyle

Kid, you’ll be thrown on the trash pile

Fat man was no Fidel

But those girls were sealed in hell

We gotta start the groundswell

In this Middle America bone cell

Beautiful young Ohio!!!

Appalachian Plateau

It’s the Zodiac Killer game show

So make sure you lay low

It’s the Lady in the Lake

It’s not your day

And those Halloween displays

Will always stay up til May

They’ll fish another floater

In Cleveland in October

But no one cares about no deranged loner

As long as they can placate another voter

Out here you like meat to the stray dogs

These businessmen and street bangers prey on your black night fog

You gotta avoid the hustlers, and tell the foreign chemist about your aches

If you’re gonna win this hand, you gotta play your last ace

Lab coat will nod

And hand you a bottle pills

And you and your new friend

Can have you some nice thrills

The Kid walks away, a heavy step in his beaten stride

To the dark lovesong of the Cleveland night he had become the fallen bride


(To Be Continued…)