Straight Lines

5. Straight Lines / Road Jigs

Poem Written by: Pete Sutherland
© Pete Sutherland
Jigs traditional Irish

Mike Agranoff: vocal & English Concertina
Connor Dugan: fiddle
Kris Lamb: flute & whistle
Doug Healy: Guitar
Marco Brehm: upright bass

Pete Sutherland is a fiddler, guitarist, bandleader, songwriter, and general mover and shaker in the Vermont folk scene.  I forgot where or when I heard him recite this poem.  But I remember thinking immediately that aside from the fact that I am from New York City, not New England, it was something I could have written...if I could have written it.  Pete's linearity, his directness of thought and approach to life and people really spoke to me.  (Even though he has written some of the crookedest tunes this side of the Balkans.  But that's neither here nor there.)  The poem seemed a fitting prelude to the three jigs, which are, in order, "The Top of Cork Road," "The High Part of the Road," and "The Tar Road to Sligo."

So I went to a funeral this morning,
And I guess that I shed a few tears
For a woman, a teacher who'd unwrapped a gift
That I had kept hidden for years.
Seems I've always loved words and music.
Never gave it much thought, I confess.
And 'twas she who'd unwrappet the gift of creation
In this child. And others, I guess.
Seems we should have held hands in a circle,
Danced and swayed like the wind in the pines.
But those eulogies just drowned themsleves sensless
In that church we sat in Straight Lines.

Now I was raised up in New England.
I'm as Yankee as pie and plaid shirt.
My roots go way down where the bones of my fathers
Decay, become one with the dirt.
We build fences of fieldstone and picket.
We make arbors for grape vines to cling.
We step forward and back in dances that mimic
The gardens we plot every spring.
With our telescope houses and long barns,
With our steeples tall, white, and divine,
From here to the henhouse or heaven
We measure it all in Straight Lines.

Now the curve of the Earth gently beckons
Where another geometry lies.
Where poetry, music, and art find expressions
In flashes and crashes and cries
And there's times when I've yearned to bend my hard edges
And sing with those free-flying birds.
When I try, it all goes discordant, and dark,
And I can't make out tune or the words.
So I shelter instead in the old rock and refuge
Of meter and measure and rhyme.
For I come from a place where it's still no discrace
To lay out your thoughts in Straight Lines .