John the Baptist in the Rain

By Nathan Payne | pablosmoglives | 2 Nov 2022

Wow the U.S.
is a madhouse on ice

run like mice
through the streets of Jerome

Phoenix is gone,
smothered in drug-clouds

My buddy is twisted, sleeping
in buckets

Driving is easy,
like navigating a birthday

Cake when you're 8

The highway is ringing; my tires sounding
a dial tone,

A monotone opera

I can tune my guitar to the sound of the road

But I don't belong here

It's too easy to communicate;
everybody thinks I'm being presumptuous
when I talk to them in Spanish

And it never occurs to them to think
that maybe I've started
thinking in Spanish,

And that responding in Spanish
is a habit, I have no
interest in un-

(in fact I might even be afraid to lose it)

And that I haven't actually "returned,"
but am only physically here
to take care of
my heart remains gone,
broken and melting

(There are cracks in the Jell-o
nobody sees)

But they look at me with eyes that have never been anywhere,
sunken in tree wood

Hateful and crazy

Jealous and cold

Gringo distrustful

An igloo in flames

And I feel like I'm standing
in front of an open

Just speaking in English

And it never occurs to them
that returning to the language of contention
and constant explanations
is like breaking into
to bum a smoke from
the inmates
who couldn't kill me the first time

It ain't no kinda fun

Even the Natives, the obvious
Moxicans Nuevos,
Apaches immersed
in their gringo-less

Even them,
displaced as they are
on the Booze Reservation,
their children's
sing with clear ringing
in the juicy-fruit aisle
at the end of the


Or the blue one?

They sound like cartoons—
accents like mallrats
crystal & clean,
clear as TVs

And I wonder if I wandered
onto the set
of a sitcom, some
haughty production,
instead of into a small grocery
store in W. Texas
for coffee and

It ain't no kinda fun

But it's not all bad

Though the prices exist on the very
fringes of credulity;
unbelievable numbers
at me with malevolent
everytime I look
to the point that every store feels
like a casino
mixed with a math class

Laundry is easy

You can do it at the hotel

You don't have to give a bag of it
to a lady with dirty hands
for pickup tomorrow,
or wring out your
over a sink full of scorpions

And you have or maybe get to
pump your own gas

And seeing those people
really was

Bomber at the #1,
I thought,
staring at the back
of his greaser-mop
refugee haircut,
what's up with this madman?

Is he even in line?

And then he turns around,
and it was like finding
a Teddy Bear



A million years!


You look like a roadmap!

Your pavement has aged!

And we had a smoke
by the van,
and I talked to his kid

And Christopher


like a bear,
I embraced him like a war buddy,
my fellow veteran of need,
because he lived in a cave
and understands
what it is
to be a burden,

Smoking with him
on the Waterfall Steps
was like looking
for daisies
in a minefield of weed,
even though I didn't smoke
weed with him
(only a rollie),
though it's legal now
in AZ

I saw him when I left

He was walking down the hill,
at the exact time
and place
I was turning to leave,
and so I honk at him and shout,
"hey gringo!"

And he waves back
and says I'll call
you later,
but I said I was leaving,
and he winced as one deeply
and I told him I loved him,
and I told him
I meant it,
as I maneuvered my van
on the steep, twisty
and I wanted to bring him
to Mexico,
get him out
of this freezer,
but there was no way,
and the cops and the traffic
waited like patients
for the moment
to pass

And then walking to the Fire Station
I saw the punk-rockabilly
whose name I can't remember
though he was the first
person I met

And talking to him,
it was like
no time
and there at the
moment was where
we were spoze to be,
standing there talking
on the sidewalk
with one tooth
still missing

And Jennifer in black,
standing on her back porch,
talking about travel and

Seeing them was great

And I wish I could drag them
through the river
of fire
that is constantly weeping
inside my heart;

I could not join them

Will they ever join me?

Where would we meet?

On the River Euphrates?


The street?

And the horrible knowledge
of the infinite end
is the only
thing keeping
the ground on my feet

Cuz I didn't want to be in Illinois either,
on and off for 10 million
but if I hadn't...

And while it's easier to drive up
here in Henry Miller's
so easy, in
that road rage is actually
which it isn't in Mexico
(no time to get angry
when you're driving
a jackhammer
a popcorn maker)

And so it's easier to drive

And the kids all sound like smart TV shows

And while everybody understands
every word that comes
out of my mouth

(which is not what I'm used to)

I'm afraid they have less clue than ever
about what I am trying
to actually say


1 November 2022
Moriarty, New Mexico



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Nathan Payne
Nathan Payne

I am a songwriter and bandleader who travels the world in search of the golden ticket.


Replacing my blog at

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