Monday, December 1, 2014

River Phoenix Back Then

I ran into River a few times

On the streets of Gainesville

In the crowds we both moved around in

In a scene stitched together

By threads of music, art, and skating 

I also crossed paths

With his little brother once

Back then

His brother went by a different name

Name change or not

Weren’t we all different?

Back then

When River was being born into this world

I was being conceived

Nine months and seven states separated us

Until his family made their way to Florida 

The times I was around him

And he around me

River seemed

Locked into something

Most never know exist

But we all know

Existing means very little without knowing

Back then

He would come and go

From the city of angels


To some faraway movie set

Act out another role for the watchers

Become another side of

What the world would perceive him as

Cut away at the rough

Like the facet of a diamond 

The last time I saw him

He seemed closer than ever to the knowing

He was raising hell at a hemp festival

In downtown Gainesville 

Trying to swing from the ropes

Of the courthouse flagpole

Like a modern day Tarzan

At least this looked like what he was trying to do

Until two cops walked over and ID’d him

Back then

You could be jailed for a joint

Cars were confiscated for containing a seed

So, I’m sure the cops were looking for any reason

For Tarzan to take a ride with them

But River was let go

I watched him disappear

Into the street shadows of night 

Someone standing close by said

He was pissed because his band 

Was booked to play a few blocks away

The crowd had gathered

To see several bands for free and fly high at the festival

They weren’t going to pay to see his

But we know

Some say a lot about what happens a few blocks away

River was passionate about his music

Hell, he was passionate about many things

Back then

The next time I heard River’s name

Was over a small box radio

While stocking shelves in a hardware store

They said he died on a sidewalk in Hollywood

River was gone forever

He had gotten as close to the knowing

As one could get

That decade started out with Alice singing

“We Die Young”

Many of us never thought we would grow old

But all of us agreed

River left much too soon

Back then

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