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May 19, 2018

PROLOGUE

A  ragged  vagrant ambled toward me with a familiar pace,
In the spooky twilight, I could not make out his face;
I felt fear as he drew closer, I knew I could not flee,
When he blocked the pathway forward, I saw the bum was me.

The sight of him before me stabbed me like a knife,
I had drained his heart of passion, and all love of life;
He had a right to kill me, with no doubting or delay,
Like a final coup de grâce in a farce or tragic play.

He looked at me in silence, waiting for a word,
A word of honesty and wisdom, that he had never heard;
It’s too late, I said, to make excuses, to be one who contends
That there’s some purgatory where I can make amends;

One needs a hand of magic to restore a soul that’s shattered,
Like touching up a mural on a wall weathered and battered;
So run now–naked, along a seaside strand,
Your toes can squish and squirm in the cold and gritty sand;

Paint the furrowed brow of age with a splash of youthful mirth,
Like a caveman dancing to the music of the earth–
To the wind-song and the bird-song, and sounds along the shore,
The clapping of waves lapping, and the deep-voiced ocean’s roar;
O’er a prairie watch clouds blacken, when lightning will perform,
Feel the roll and rumble of the thunder in the storm;

You’re able to admire genius, and understand a sage,
Sing and write new melodies, and dramas for the stage.
Relish the joy of knowledge, ponder works of art,
Rekindle that quiet frenzy that smolders in your heart.

Go meet minds bright and caring, in a land that you’ve dreamt of,
Allow soft arms to hold you, and know a woman’s love;
Search no more for answers, or someone to accuse,
Race on, dear man, race on, race on! You have no time to lose.

ODE AT TWILIGHT

Old age crept in upon me when I thought I was immune,

How did this thing happen– to be so old so soon?

Death is as real as rock, as names on tombstones show,

Desperate dreamers in spite deny this fact all others know;

Clearly do they see the truth and don’t believe their eyes,

Hearing myths of mystics that Death’s a mere disguise;

(Perhaps this is a cause to grieve–
that we can know and not believe.)

Shadows loom not far ahead–that eternal shade,

Night is fast approaching, a fact I can’t evade;

Like flocks that flee the winter, just so the years have flown,

Memories come to haunt me, and weigh down like a stone;

I lost so much so early when I was strong and young,

Far more than gold or silver, when my life had just begun,

I squandered all youth’s treasures, through both word and deed,

Years with my soul imprisoned, captured by a creed;

I was awed by lettered churchmen and their scholastic treason,

The fake faith that they fostered, posing power over reason;

Faith led me like a lemming, like one who’s blind and dumb,

I became a nothing person, hollow as a drum;

But wait! Must I pay a penance to clear a youthful debt?

Dredge up shame and sorrow for failures I regret?

Must I don sack-cloth and ashes, and parade sins for review–

The things I did, dishonest, and things I did NOT do?

Is there need to bare the secrets I’ve kept on a hidden shelf,

That list of loves that I betrayed when I betrayed myself?

(David cautions not to muse on all that might have been,
The misty past holds nothing that I can lose or win.)

The crowd remains indifferent, though some may turn with sneers

At the scroll of crimes committed, the disgrace of wasted years;

Though I see the scythe of the Reaper and hear its dreadful swish,

I’ll waste no tears lamenting what I was or wish;

For I’m not a crippled victim foiled by fickle Fate,

Andrea’s poem reminds me that it is not too late,

Not too late for purpose or for a selfish plan

Not too late to do what is proper for a man;

The body’s limbs with age grow lame, as they’re so designed,

The timely downfall of our frame is not true of the mind.

Energy and health may go, body parts may fail,

And though the youthful heart may slow, wisdom doth prevail.

Now some preach that man is dirty, formed of clay and clod,

And brush away this precious life as a sacrifice to God.

Arabs hear an angel’s voice and read a holy book,

Wrap in raiment of submission, that feigns a holy look;

–The haughty Mullah at his mirror, posing there and preening,

For the Moslem and his empty soul, hatred gives life meaning;

Hot-blooded young men milling–millions around the earth–

Await a call to combat–war gives their lives some worth;

Most run where-ever duty calls so they’ll have a place to go,

And jump whenever sergeants shout, there’s nothing else they know.

Knights seek the Grail of folklore, or a dragon they can slay,

Serfs heed the calls of blue bloods, commands they can obey;

Soldiers thrill to drumbeats of a stirring Sousa march,

And oft’ parade in glory through a gleaming victors’ arch;

Modern warriors face their foes with both pen and gun

Their patriotic duty for a war that’s never won;

(Saul vows that this is theater–just whimsy and caprice,
Their show would be heroic if they would act for peace.)

Leaders laud obedience and demand you be resigned

To buttoning a uniform and zipping up your mind;

The future’s not predestined, men aren’t predoomed or fated,

Free will’s role is to create, not to be created.

Courageous rebels pester me to join a godly tide,

A crusade to end oppression, to commit tyrannicide;

But armies foster group-think, each man becomes a drone,

I must remain on guard, and face tyrants of my own.

While others fight where-ever, for me it is not so,

I’ll renew an ancient conflict that started long ago;

A struggle for survival without sword or shield,

To defend the ownership of self, a cause I cannot not yield.

A private battle raging is fiercest that can be,

The field of warfare is the mind, the enemy could be me.

I won’t fight for truth and justice, nor for family or for God,

Nor slog away in foreign fields that my ancestors trod;

I won’t sacrifice my valued years because of threats or blame,

Or bristle at some disrespect or to try to make a name;

Robin Hoods tout “Equality,” their collective plot,

I won’t join their masquerade and be someone that I’m not.

I’m not a Caesar with his Legions, bringing shock and awe,

To pacify barbarians and spread the Roman law;

Nor Charles Martel, “God’s Hammer,” whose slashing bloody sword,

Changed the course of history, and turned back the Moslem horde;

Nor an Isaac Newton, a titan of the mind,

Who plundered nature’s secrets, and gave sight to the blind;

Nor a “Deep-browed Homer,” who sang of warring rabble,

With songs that soothed savages and brought culture to their babble.

I don’t have to be a hero and rescue victims everywhere,

From dungeons and disasters, desperation and despair;

I won’t fantasize of noble deeds, works of my creation,

That banish brutes from power, and save civilization.

I am who I am–

The old man who appears before me, the one I owe the most,

Whom I’ve abused and bullied, or ignored much like a ghost;

To him I’ve cheated and tormented, like a helpless elf,

I have an obligation now–the duty to myself.

I’m comforted by rich music and the glory of its sounds,

I’m nourished by fine art and earth’s beauty that surrounds;

I’m abetted by some oddballs, kindred souls who think ,

Who face witch-doctors and their kin and never ever blink;

They roust socialists and shamen with philosophic wit,

And detour ‘round a comfort zone, as if it were a pit.

As I start my final journey, they poke me on my way,

A trek that’s just beginning, the start of a new day;

Nudged by these eccentrics and the philosophy of Rand,

I’ll search forbidden places for Ayn’s Promised Land;

I’ll become a stand-off outlaw–I know taunts will be hurled–

To accept myself at twilight is how I’ll save the world.

.

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October 27, 2017

THE CHASE

An ape-like form appeared with club in hand,
Cast by seraphs from a peaceful land,
The crafty outcast, battered child of strife,
The king of killers, now, that honored life.

The teeming world he claimed as his domain,
And, clad in color, challenged Death’s dreary reign;
The creature stood erect and laid his plan
Against the Tyrant, so the chase began.

As the outlaw trailed Him down the centuries,
Death called on gods from all the skies and seas;
Then rallied other allies standing by,
Those who hated life but lived a lie:

Priests in black who promised paradise,
Shabby saints with creeds of sacrifice,
Politicos with power as their aim,
All parasites for whom theft was a game;

O’erwhelmed by truth, all these fled the fray,
And the hunter found his foe alone one day,
When even Time had left its twin behind,
Vanquished by the weapon of the mind.

–June 2013, added to “Sonnets to the Hunter”

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September 18, 2017

(Theme of the “Ode”:
Civilizations of marble become decayed,
Haughty empires fall and fade;
Has the fire of freedom we remember
Thus become a dying ember?)

Meade always lays his cards on the table,
Yet is clearly a man you can’t tag or label;

Not a man to shrink or shirk
From whatever calls for good hard work,

He can fix a sewer or pave a street,
Dig a trench or lay concrete,

Yet he’s no slave to duty’s call,
He knows how to unwind and sprawl,

He’ll drink good whiskey, straight and strong,
And sing and dance the whole night long,

Or play tenacious tennis and fast hand-ball,
Defending his game ‘gainst one and all,

Yes, Meade’s no one you can classify,
His maverick style will mystify;

You’ll find him in the kitchen a lot,
Concocting a brew in an old crock pot,

Mixing mystery omelets or secret stew,
Foods unknown to me and you;

Swinging a spoon like a magic wand,
As if he’s lost in some great beyond,

Or he’ll oft escape to a cozy nook,
And lose himself in a history book,

Again, he’s not someone you can pin down,
– cool with hicks in the country, or slicks in town;

Is he with believers or heretics,
When he debates religion and politics?

For he never fails to take a stand,
Whether it’s Donald Trump or Ayn Rand;

But Meade is a traveler most of all,
He seems to hear far voices call;

Trudging on tundra, mukluks laced tight,
He’s chatted with Aleuts in the Arctic night,

Diving with Aussies or with Club Med’s crew,
He plays with the fishies, deep in the blue;

He’s hiked the savannah, o’er Africa’s plain,
Climbed high in the Andes in Inca domain;

He’ll laugh, bouncing on rapids in a leaky boat,
Or muse, gazing afar from a mountain shelf,
Seeking truth and beauty, like the poet’s quote,
Or, like Socrates, in search of himself;

This is a man of many places,
Whose song is a medley of many races;

He hurries ‘round the globe, ‘cross every clime,
In that fateful chase with Father Time,

Daring to try the untrod trail,
Perhaps looking for Eden in a hidden vale…
.

But why all the rhyme and chatter? What does the life of one man matter?

Our country has troubles, inside and out, Maybe some we can’t surmount;

We see crime and strife, impossible debt; Wars on end and nuclear threat,

A populace that’s confused and numb, While cynics predict a collapse will come;

In the light of all that’s going on, Isn’t one man just a pawn?

Are we a brotherhood whose day is done? Is America like a setting sun?

Professors say we’re doomed by Fate, That we’ve lost old values that made us great.

No rebels stirring that they can trace, Who drove the whirlwind of this land’s birth,

No one left from that storied race, That brought hope and freedom to the earth.

No man to say, “By damn, “My life belongs to me, not to the State or society!”

One who will shout till his last breath: “Give me liberty or give me death!”

With a voice unfettered we can believe, And a presence that proves what we’re made of,

And a certain face that cannot deceive, And actions that tell how deep we love;

If somewhere such a man be found, They’d know those values are still around;

But scholars scribble a hopeless screed,

Claiming they’ve searched high and low,

Yet what if these pundits met Bill Meade?

What would they say? I think I know:

“Men of America! We found him!” they’d have to say,

And watch gloomy theories blown away;

Then laugh and run where a spotlight calls,

Or return to the haven of their ivied walls.

So let fools and cowards weep and wait,

But for all of us, it is not too late;

Cast to the wind that lie from hell,

That claims we’re caught in some fatal spell;

Strike up the music, Give out a cheer!

We can be confident that all is yet well,

As long as men like Meade are here.

–for Bill Meade’s 80th birthday
22 Sept. 2017

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July 25, 2017

Opinion piece, Arizona Daily Star

Each day we hear that we have a right to health care , a right to education, a right to a job, a right to clean water, etc. Is this accurate? What is a “right”?

A right is a moral principle that gives each individual freedom of ACTION. Rights pertain to individuals and to actions: each of us has the right to speak freely, to debate, to write; I have the right to travel and move about, to trade with others and make money; I have the right to create and invent in a thousand ways.

The foundation of all rights is the right to life. This means that I as an individual have the right to take the actions necessary to prolong and enhance my life. At the same time, my right to life defines other people’s right to their lives. I have no right to enslave others, they have no right to enslave me. A right, therefore, is a moral principle that applies to everyone.

Obviously, I do not have a right to THINGS, “things” meaning anything that belongs to or is created by others. This includes such blessings as health care, education, a job, or clean water. No individual or government has a right to rob or enslave one group in order to provide these benefits for another group. Each of us must earn these benefits, or pay for them, or create them ourselves.

You can tell a politician’s view of rights by his or her actions on issues like those mentioned above–health-care, education, etc. Clearly, few of them understand what individual rights are. Most presume that my life belongs to the State, to society, or to God. My wishes and desires are secondary. Only a tiny minority affirm that I have a right to ALL aspects of my life (Rand Paul); a few say I have a right to MOST of my life (Donald Trump); a majority concede that I have a right to SOME small percentage of my life ( U.S. Congress); and the remaining fringe deny that I have a right to life at all, that the State retains the right to dispose of my life and property as it sees fit in order to create an ideal society (Bernie Sanders).

If you agree with this definition of a “right,” you must feel, as I do, that you are a voice crying in the wilderness. But take heart and remember kindred voices: Patrick Henry’s rallying cry for freedom, Susan B. Anthony’s quest for equality, Martin Luther King’s campaign for justice. These heroes remind us that governments must never be allowed to enslave our minds or bodies. Keep crying out. Your rights depend on it.
.

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March 21, 2017

MY IDEAL

I was false to you, My Darlin’, I know I made you grieve,
I left you in the mist past of dreams and make-believe,

I was looking for an idol, some kind of an ideal,
All the while you waited, close to me and real;

I mooned about a goddess, a phantom of my mind,
Living in a fairy land that I could never find,

I sought a special lady, someone not routine,
I fancied someone perfect, but what did “perfect” mean?

How could I think you lacking? That you were not enough?
That you were tainted by your troubles, someone too raw and rough?

Your struggles and your squabbles made you swear and sweat,
But you silenced all the liars, and paid off every debt;

You were eager about living, and always did hard work,
Ever strong and steady, not one to shrink or shirk;

You knew how to wrangle, to barter and to bicker,
How to haggle and to horse-trade with any fast-talk slicker,

There were times you had to call it quits, and fights you couldn’t win,
But you didn’t brood forever on all that might have been;

You knew when to laugh and loaf, and when it was time to play,
When to dream and ramble, and still not lose your way;

You weren’t like a mystic, moaning in a trance,
You loved to hoot and holler, you loved to sing and dance.

I was like Don Quixote, reaping ridicule,
Who thought he was a hero, but only was a fool,

Who wanted to be someone that he could never be,
To save a damsel in a castle in a land of reverie,

Now the years have fled from me, like flocks from winter flown,
And left me like a tumbleweed, drifting and alone;

I spent my strength on fantasy, searching for a prize,
The treasure I was looking for was in your loving eyes,

I lost your love forever, for being so untrue,
I knew too late, my dear one, that my ideal was you.

Copyright © 2017 Jim Douthit

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February 27, 2017

PENELOPE PIANO

Penelope Piano ought to be your name,
Magic on the keyboard is going to be your game;
But pious Papa worries that you might go astray,
And Mama taught you from the crib always to obey;

Preacher Jones says sacrifice is some golden rule,
And makes you play the organ for the brats in Sunday school;
This berg is like a prison where freedom is taboo,
You’re eighteen, Penelope, your life belongs to you;

They treat you like a servant, like you’re some Santa’s elf,
Your serving days are over, Girl, it’s time to serve yourself.
We need a classy cowgirl to perk up our cowboy band,
And we’ll play the kind of music that you can understand;

Play backup to my old guitar, you’re a wizard on the keys,
Our songs ain’t complicated, it’s goin’ to be a breeze;
Let’s hit the road, Penelope, to a whole wide world out there,
Undo that tomboy pigtail, let out that golden hair;

Playing country music fills your soul with song,
If do-gooders try to mug you, they’ll find you’re proud and strong;
Salvation is on the open road, you’ll be what you can be,
The Promised Land, Penelope, is any place you’re free.

Copyright © Jim Douthit 2017

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February 19, 2017

MAUD’S SONG (DUET)

The verdict came down “Guilty” On my first offense,
The jury wouldn’t listen to my plea of self-defense,
They said I should have chatted with the man who shot at me,
And sent me off to Huntsville, To max security;

I said to Maud, “Get goin’, I’m going to set you free,
Put on your boots and cowgirl hat, Find something more than me;”
Maud said, “We made a deal forever, Don’t try to turn me loose,
We vowed till hell froze over, I ain’t goin’ to vamoose;

We promised through every sorrow, Through all the storms and strife,
I ain’t leavin’ now or ever, I’m stayin’, I’m your wife.”

I said “ Listen to me, I’m telling you the truth,
You won’t make me happy, Wasting all your youth,
Pain just ain’t what life’s about, You’ve got happy things to do,
Life is short and precious, Girl, Your life belongs to you;

Life ain’t no dress rehearsal, You get no second act,
I’m gone from you forever, You’ve got to face the fact;
If you want to do the right thing, Here’s what you can do,
Forget you ever knew me, ‘Cause I’m forgetting you.”

Prison was a hell-hole, Where evil men can thrive,
You morphed from man to monster, If you wanted to survive;
You’re tested every moment, And treated like a slave,
If you’re human you won’t make it, You’ll be headed for a grave;

The bull-horn always blaring, Made my head feel sore,
Every day a battle, Like fighting in a war,
Faces sneered and threatened, You knew you were alone,
It sucked away your goodness, And turned your heart to stone;

Maud had written to me, And she had tried to phone,
I didn’t ever answer, And it cut me to the bone,
She came and tried to see me, Most every visit day,
I said she was a bother, And had her turned away.

She kept writing country music And playin’ on the stage,
Groupies came to concerts, And fans of every age;
They heard her on the radio, Strummin’ her guitar,
People loved her yodelin’, And Maud became a star;

When the warden said, “Your time is up, go out and breathe free air,”
It didn’t matter to me, ‘Cause now I didn’t care,
I was simmering and silent, Twenty years had made their mark,
I hated every sunrise, My soul was something dark;

On a flat-bed truck outside the gate I saw a country band,
Maud was giving orders, The “mike” was in her hand,
When she saw the gate swing open, There wasn’t any dread,
She shouted at the cowboys, “Here he comes!” she said.

Maud had on her cowgirl hat, Quite a sight to see,
She began to sing a country song, Some words she wrote for me:

“The years have flown, My Darlin’, Like leaves are blown from trees,
No sense to try to catch ‘em, They’re swirling in the breeze,
We’re not lookin’ backward, Like some fools chased by Fate,
We’ll twang the beat-up banjo, ‘Cause it is not too late,

Not too late to climb a mountain, To struggle and to sweat,
Or pick a spot along the trail, To watch a red sunset,
Not too late for splashin’ barefoot Along a sandy shore,
Or watch the seagulls diving, Or hear the ocean roar,

Not too late to see the bluebirds, Comin’ back in spring,
Or hear thrushes in the bayou, When they start to sing,
Not too late for laughter, Not too late for song,
We know what we are after, We know where we belong;

We’ll make new beginnings, No matter where or when,
Music is our magic, Hon, And we’ll be young again;
We’ll take back from Mr. Time, The joys that we’ve dreamed of,
It’s not too late, My Dear One, It’s not too late to love.”

Maud had kept my pick-up truck, I told her I would drive,
She cuddled close beside me, It was okay to be alive,
With this crazy woman, The trip was goin’ to be a fling,
I looked out the side-window, And saw bluebirds on the wing.

I wondered about the road ahead, And forgot about the past,
With Maud and country music, Life just might be a blast;
I thought about the song she wrote, Tears made my eyes glisten,
A lucky thing for fools like me, Some women never listen.

Copyright © by Jim Douthit 2017

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January 30, 2017

Ol’ Shep

If you got a dog like my ol’ Shep, You’ll never be alone,
Shep don’t need no riches, Just an old soup bone,
He’s always glad to see me, Friendly as a lamb,
Never tries to judge me, Takes me as I am;

I was playin’ hands of five-card stud, Doing the best I was able,
But I lost two-weeks’ paycheck At Bailey’s poker table;
I guzzled too much Guiness And got a little woozy,
Then got a little side-tracked, Flirtin’ with some floozy;

I got home ‘round 3:00 A.M. And parked my pick-up truck,
Thought I’d find the door locked, That I’d run out of luck,
But the front door was standin’ open, Much to my relief,
So, I took off my cowboy boots, And snuck in like a thief;

I knew if Myrna heard me, My name would sure be mud,
(Ol’ Shep was there to greet me, Always my best bud)
When I turned on the hall light, And looked around the room,
The whole durn place was empty, Quiet as a tomb;

Myrna had cleaned the place out, Took everything we had,
I must’ve sure done somethin’ wrong To make her awful mad;
Myrna had up and flown the coop, I wasn’t sure what for,
But right then I knew that Shep and me Would be sleepin’ on the floor;

She probably wasn’t happy, That was plain to see,
Myrna wasn’t patient, Like a woman ought to be,
I thought she had religion, And hung on when things got tough,
You suffer to get to heaven, Hell, women know that stuff;

She should’ve been more grateful, I treated her like a queen,
I bought her a brand new dust mop, And a good used washing
machine;
I got her a stove for Christmas, And an ironing board last week,
I thought she read the Bible, That she’d be mild and meek;

Maybe I ain’t perfect, But I ain’t gonna mope,
Women ought to be loyal, Ought to know how to cope,
Myrna had some girlfriends, Always on her case,
She started gettin’ uppish, Like she didn’t know her place;

She was workin’ waitin’ tables, And thinkin’ about her rep,
She should’ve been more humble, Behaved more like ol’ Shep;
Now and then I think of her, When I’m at the park,
Wonderin’ why she left me, Then Shep will start to bark;

He tires me out from playin’, He’s got a lot of pep,
I ain’t had no luck with ladies, But I’ve always got ol’ Shep.

–January 2017

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January 22, 2017

COME ON WITH ME, MYRNA

Come on with me, Myrna, Leave that poker table,
The dealer is a shyster, ‘Cause winnin’ is a fable;
Every night in Vegas, We watched them tinhorns lose,
Throwin’ caution to the winds, Swillin’ lots of booze;

Gamblin’ is like dreamin’, And sometimes dreams come true,
But you got to play the cards you’re dealt, Life ain’t a sneak preview;

I never tried to run through fire, Or shoot kewpies off a shelf,
When I stepped out on that stage, I was bettin’ on myself;
So, Honey, let’s just bank on us, You yodel and I’ll croon,
You and me can beat the odds, We’ll sing and shoot the moon;

Twang that beat-up banjo, That’s what I love to hear,
I’ll tune up my ol’ Gibson, And load the travel gear;
Put on that sexy skirt you got, You’ll really make a splash,
I’ll wear my ol’ cowboy shirt, Just like Johnny Cash;

We’ll play the honky-tonks and bars, And the Clark County Fair,
Some rodeos and ball rooms, And hotels everywhere;
We’ll be winners, Myrna, When we play and sing,
Makin’ music ain’t a gamble, It’s always a sure thing.

–January 2017

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January 16, 2017

COME WITH ME, MATILDA

Come with me, Matilda, It’s tough here on my own,
Bring that beat-up guitar, I’m no good on stage alone;
I don’t want to sing a solo, Let’s have some harmony,
I can sing the bass notes, While you sing melody.

Your voice wakes up memories, As only you can do,
When you’re yodeling and hummin’, You make the old songs new;
Keep swayin’ to the rhythm, And strummin’ that guitar,
When the cowboys hear you singing, You’re going to be a star.

Come with me, Matilda, We’ll try some unknown trails,
You’ll like it on the open road, Freedom never fails;
You’ll love the limelight, Honey, Don’t you pout and fret,
When you play in front of footlights, You live without regret.

Music is our world, Girl, We’re born to sing and dance,
Life is just a one-shot deal, We get no second chance,
Your folks will try to keep you, When you try to scram,
But we’ll escape their humdrum, Like prisoners on the lam.

It’s us and music, Sweetheart, While we’re young and strong,
When heartaches try to catch us, They’ll find that we’re long gone.
We’ll be happy, Darlin’, Working as a team,
With our love and laughter, Living out our dream.

–January 2017

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