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We all have heard the stories
Of spirit ships and ghosts
That sail upon the oceans
And up along the coasts

This tale is a whopper
And I'll not forget the day
So as God is my witness
Listen now, to what I say

We were sitting in the tavern
Telling tales of days of old
When the door, it burst right open
And Bill came running from the cold

His face as white as ever
Like he just had seen a ghost
When we told him that we thought this
He said " I did, just up the coast"

We laughed and ordered whiskey
To warm us up inside
"I did, by gum, I saw it"
"I saw the Nell McBride"

"There's no way that you saw that boat"
"It's been sunk a hundred years"
"A hundred sixty" said a voice
As we tended to our beers

"The Nell McBride was lost boys"
"Late eighteen  and fifty nine"
"You didn't see her Billy"
"She's sunk down in the brine"

" I did" said Bill , "I saw her"
"I was standing  on up the beach"
"She came out of the clouds there"
"Aw, Bill... cut back on the screech"

"I haven't had a drop today"
"And you know, I don't tell lies"
"I saw the Captain up on deck"
"I looked right in his eyes'

The wind was really howling
We all huddled round the fire
As far fetched as the story was
Old Bill, he was no liar

"The Nell McBride was lost at sea"
"All 14 men were drowned"
"The ship went to the bottom"
"And no bodies were found"

The barkeep chirped "We have ghosts here"
"I have seen a few"
"With all those lost at sea near here"
"I believe in them, don't you?"

We laughed at him and Billy
Ghosts, nope, dead is dead
Bill just sat there shaking
He believed the words he'd said

Now, me, I was a pup then
Just a minnow if you please
But, I sat and felt my hair rise up
I'd not heard of ghosts like these

"The last time the Nell McBride"
"Was seen was in ought four"
"Old Johnson, at the light house"
"Said he saw that ship and more"

"They proved Old Johnson crazy"
"All alone out with the light"
"Was just the moon a playing"
"There was nothing there that night"

Another man chimed in then
"Old Johnson was no loon"
"His diary says he say that ship"
"'Twas no trick of the moon"

"Okay then boys, tomorrow"
"We'll meet here and head on out"
"We'll see the ghost out sailing"
"Or we'll see that she is now't"

The wind was really whipping
It was getting louder as they sat
Nobody was heading home
They were safer where they sat

"Ghost ships sail the waters"
"I believe to warn us still"
"I believe The Nell is out there"
"I believe in our boy Bill"

"There's tales of ships and mermaids"
"There's been sighting of great whales"
"Their stories boy's just stories"
"They ain't nothing more than tales"

At this the wind was screaming
Like a wail now or a scream
My hair was up directly
This could only be a dream

"I remember when Mike Watson"
"Said he saw that woman all in black"
"Waiting on her rooftop"
"For her husband to come back"

"I remember that as well" said Bill
"God, old Mike he loved to talk"
"He saw her on the roof in black"
"On the iron widows walk"

So, tomorrow it was settled
We would meet and hit the coast
Watching for the Nell McBride
Waiting for the ghost

"Boys, we never made it"
"We don't talk about that night"
"See, Billy boy, he left us there"
"And he disappeared from sight"

"Turns out Billy Boyle"
"Drowned early in the day"
"Was it his ghost come calling"
"It is not for us to say"

"Bill Boyle washed ashore you see"
"About two...yep he was dead"
"So just was it that came to us"
"And said the things he said"

"There's ghosts out on the water"
"Like the ghostly  Nell McBride"
"I swear and cross my heart now"
"But, boys...you must decide"
Vexren4000 Dec 2016
Hidden taverns in city blocks,
Tucked away in dark back alleys
filled with cigar smoke and ash.
Boisterous voices,
yelling in earnest, with happiness and rumors of
treasure, stories of Heros and villains,
Gangsters whispering intricate plans.
Workers free from the long hours of work.
All men are equal here,
under the seductive spell,
of the tucked away tavern.

©BAS
JAMIL HUSSAIN Oct 2016
Jab Raat Dhali Aadhi Maikhane Ko Hosh Aaya
Angrai Li Botal Ne Paimane Ko Hosh Aaya

When the night cast halfway, tavern came to its senses
The bottle took a yawn and the cup came to its senses


Utha Jo Naqaab Unka Deewane Ko Hosh Aaya
Jab Shamma Howi Roshan Parwane Ko Hosh Aaya

They appeared from their veil, crazy came to their senses
Then the flame became evident and the moth came to its senses


Phir Dard Utha Dil Mein Phir Yaad Teri Aayi
Phir Teri Mohabbat Ke Afsanay Ko Hosh Aaya

Then the pain grew within, your memories unfolded
And then your affectionate tale came to my senses


In Mast Nigahon Ne Girtay Ko Sambhala Hai
Sagar Ke Saharay Se Mastanay Ko Hosh Aaya

Intoxicating glances have balanced the tumbling
With the support of a cup, the drunk came to their senses


Woh Daikho Fana Daikho Jaam Aa Gaye Gardish Mein
Woh Mast Nazar Uthi Maikhane Ko Hosh Aaya*

Look there O’ Fana, see the cups are quickly rotating
Emergence of intoxicating glance; tavern has now come to its senses


— Translated by Jamil Hussain, Poet Anwar Farrukhabadi, Sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Gwar'th, a scranny peasent boy
from Deastbhillow
Frequented the tavern to hear the local bard play
Enthralled by stories of shipwrecks, cataclysms, Corpses rising from their graves.
He begged the bard over and over.
"Please! take me on your next adventure?"
Gwar'th locked eyes with the bard
Gave him every bit of attention.
The bard always declined,
"it's too dangerous for a child." He said,
"But I'll sing you a song.
The tale of the Red Metal Lute."
~~~
The sky was black
pouring buckets.
You couldn't see but walls of rain
you couldn't hear a ****** thing.
Not even each other speak
Until A loud wail rose from the sea
shattered every window and bottle on board.
In the distance, a figure
unwaivered by the storm.
A ghostly figure,
with a red metal lute
Seemed to fly,
Loom on the rain.
the figure plucked a single string
wailing screams from years of forgotten dead
some sailors on board went mad
The woman and children ran inside.
The captain headed out the cabin.
Grabbed his lute from off the wall
Walked right up to the ghostly demon
Challenged him to a duel.
"I win, you lure me the biggest fish
inside this ghostly sea
Once we haul it back to shore,
you let my sailers leave."
The ghostly demon preached back in wail
"My spoils claim each drop of blood
left upon your ship,
you'll join all the eternal tongues
wailing from my instrument."
They played their lutes so hard that storms whipped bruised wailed and brown
Lighting struck, fire popped and squeltched under the heavy rain.
Not a soul on board could hear the music, for they all deaf from the banshees wail.
But one small float snuck cloaked in shadows from the duel above the sails.
It had a mother and a brother
a baby in the mothers arms.
They made mostly to shore.
The oceans trials took all the family, but I, the baby,
A boy.
I don't know who won, the Captain, the Demon.
But I know one thing is true.
The power that lies within' an instrument
is more then anybody knew.
~~~
One foggy night in Deastbhillow
Long after the tavern closed
The bard was packing for a 'venture
loading up the partys caravan to head out of town
Gwar'th snuck on behind the treasure chests.
It stopped in front of a cavern
Five adventurers stepped off
A knight, a priest, a bard, a Clairvoyant
And In the shadows,
Gwar'th.

Down in the belly of the cave
Past the bones and the torches
there was a red glowing from the end
THE RED METAL LUTE
Gwar'th, excited, lunged from the shadows
Alerting the party.
The knight drew his weapon
The bard struck a chord
The priest prayed
And The Clairvoyant read the boys mind.
Together They killed the boy in cold blood.

"What did it look like to you?" Said the Preist
to the knight who slaughtered the boy.
"A beautiful woman.
What did it look like to you?" The knight asked the priest.
"My god."
"What did it look like to the boy?" The bard asked.
"An instrument," said the Clairvoyant, "A powerful instrument.
What did it look like to you?"

The bard looked down.
"The boy."
The night was over
The band was done
Time to hit the lights
Another Friday
In the books
And we only had two fights

One busted speaker
A broken chair
A proposal killed at ten
Time to close
And shut it down
Until we start again

Ashtrays full of hopes and dreams
Burned away with no success
Half filled bottles and empty glasses
Just signs of more excess
Time to clean away the night
And sweep away unanswered prayers
Wash the lipstick from where it stayed
And clean up the nights layers

Another morning
after another night
of at least ten broken hearts
where remnants of
scattered hopes
were dead before their start

An empty shell
hopelessness...tempting
once more..'have a try
where once the band
is finished up
you can all go home and cry


Ashtrays full of hopes and dreams
Burned away with no success
Half filled bottles and empty glasses
Just signs of more excess
Time to clean away the night
And sweep away unanswered prayers
Wash the lipstick from where it stayed
And clean up the nights layers


Each day starts fresh
Last night is gone
Nothing ever lasts
The beer is cold
The bar is warm
Last night is in the past

Regulars arriving
Band is tuning
The staff is in position
Fake Id's
abound tonight
with cougars on a mission


Ashtrays full of hopes and dreams
Burned away with no success
Half filled bottles and empty glasses
Just signs of more excess
Time to clean away the night
And sweep away unanswered prayers
Wash the lipstick from where it stayed
And clean up the nights layers


Ashtrays full of hopes and dreams
Burned away with no success
Half filled bottles and empty glasses
Just signs of more excess
Time to clean away the night
And sweep away unanswered prayers
Wash the lipstick from where it stayed
And clean up the nights layers
Another empty bar room
Playing songs for empty chairs
A deaf dog and his blind master
Are in the crowd and no one cares
The singer tells his stories
No one really wants to know
They're trying to watch the tv
No one cares about his show

A break comes and he's sitting
Talking to the tender of the bar
On a torn and worn out bar stool
Eating pickled eggs out of a jar
Complaining of his station
How he is just playing, making rhymes
When a voice out of the corner asks
"Can we talk...if you've time"

I've been around for ever
Since time began for sure
I can help you if you'll let me
I can open up the doors
I'm known by many titles
Silver tongued, though I may be
I can help you if you'll let me
But, my help....is not for free

I've helped singers before you
Wives, and mothers, fathers, sons
I've helped with politics and warfare
I've been at both ends of the gun
In your case, it is simple
I'll talk of music and of muse
And I'll give you some advice boy,
Some advice, I think you'll use

I was there back in the fifties
When Hank Williams died en route
Who'd you think was driving?
I helped him pick his suit
I made deals with Elvis Presley
One too many so it seems
I help many climb the mountain
They deal with me to reach their dreams

I've been around for ever
Since time began for sure
I can help you if you'll let me
I can open up the doors
I'm known by many titles
Silver tongued, though I may be
I can help you if you'll let me
But, my help....is not for free


Talent is a godsend,
****, I hate that word
But, it only gets you started
You don't move on, if you're not heard
I was there with Jimi Hendrix
I sat and watched him die
He was only one of many
Who could look me in the eye

I've crashed cars and downed airplanes
I've watched so many play the fool
I was there back in the sixties
Pushing Brian Jones into his pool
Keith Moon and countless others
Have sought my help to move along
They gave their souls for ever
For the small price of just a song

I've been around for ever
Since time began for sure
I can help you if you'll let me
I can open up the doors
I'm known by many titles
Silver tongued, though I may be
I can help you if you'll let me
But, my help....is not for free




I helped a man named Chapman
Buy a gun and change his time
He wanted to be famous
And I wanted his soul to be mine
I helped Belushi load his needle
I was there with music ******
I remember how Jim Morrison
Shut his eyes, and closed the Doors

I can help you if you'd let me
Take you far from clubs like these
Put you far up on a mountain
Where people come crawling on their knees
The man looked at the stranger
The barkeep couldn't see
Don't worry said the stranger
Right now, it's you and me

I've been around for ever
Since time began for sure
I can help you if you'll let me
I can open up the doors
I'm known by many titles
Silver tongued, though I may be
I can help you if you'll let me
But, my help....is not for free


There's a deal upon the table
It might be vague, but trust me son
No one else in life will help you
I'm the only one
As there's a god in heaven
He doesn't care if you get rich
And face it, aren't these taverns
Just enough to be a *****
I can have you playing big shows
Selling out, folks know your name
You can be the one controlling
Not just playing in the game

A handshake, all I need right now
The contract, I'll work on
Just tell me that you'll do it
And from now on, I'll be gone
I was Allen Klein to many
Colonel Tom to others too
I've been Beelzebub and Faustus
I've been many names to you

I've been around for ever
Since time began for sure
I can help you if you'll let me
I can open up the doors
I'm known by many titles
Silver tongued, though I may be
I can help you if you'll let me
But, my help....is not for free


The offer is a good one
Just look around and make a choice
You came here on a greyhound
You'll leave in a Rolls Royce
Time will be your ally
You will have all the time you need
To reach the music high ground
To have the fame, to succeed

The barkeep broke the silence
The singer went back to the stage
But, somehow he was different
It seemed the singer turned the page
What answer did he give him
Did he take the Devil's deal
Was this just a drunken vision
Or was this devil's offer real

We may never know the answer
For talent only goes so far
And for now the singer's singing
To a deaf dog in this old bar
The silver tongued kibitzer
Disappeared into the night
Did our singer sell his soul or
Did our singer do what's right?
You could feel it in the atmosphere
Things were set to change
The girl from the Midwest was here
And things got mighty strange

She came from Kansas, the mid west
She was country through and through
But when she came in wearing that red vest
You never knew what she would do

She's a Kansas sized tornado
coming back from Kansas way
You couldn't click your heels
to get back home
This girl, she came to play
Like the storm that dropped
Upon the witch
This girl, she was a force
No red shoes there to help you out
You'd best get on your horse

Not a big girl..full of fight
You'd best stay back a bit
She was wound up really tight
And she knew just how to hit

Leaving damage in her wake
Seemed to be what she did best
Just leave her be when she comes in
And she's wearing that **** vest


She's a Kansas sized tornado
coming back from Kansas way
You couldn't click your heels
to get back home
This girl, she came to play
Like the storm that dropped
Upon the witch
This girl, she was a force
No red shoes there to help you out
You'd best get on your horse

Flying monkees in the sky
couldn't stop the storm she brought
She was nasty trouble, by and by
Like a devil can't be caught

You'd kick your heels and wish she'd leave
Back with the wicked witch
Cause when she showed up in our bar
That night would be a *****

She's a Kansas sized tornado
coming back from Kansas way
You couldn't click your heels
to get back home
This girl, she came to play
Like the storm that dropped
Upon the witch
This girl, she was a force
No red shoes there to help you out
You'd best get on your horse
Brent Kincaid Jun 2015
It rained all day that Tuesday
When Link McCoo hit town.
He checked into a rooming house
And began to look around.
He found the most run-down dive
And pulled himself a chair.
He took one look around to see
Who else was drinking there.

Nobody much noticed him
Except for Esther Masterson,
And she walked right over to him.
She knew she’d found herself a good one.
She asked him to buy her a drink
And he shook his head slowly no.
He said he wasn’t in the renting mood
So she might just as well go.

Esther like the way he looked
That he wasn’t to be a pushover.
She moved her chair next to him
And slyly told him, “Move over.”
She said, “I’m not a working girl
I own this stink-hole of a place.
So, being seen with the likes of me
Is not some kind of a disgrace.

That started them as something hot
Flame hot enough to set fire.
Nobody looking at the two of them
Could miss the heat of that desire.
Then, about a month later on,
Johnny Wacklin came back to stay
He and Esther were once a thing
And he was here to have his way.

But Esther had moved on by then
And told Johnny right up front.
Johnny paid no attention, said
“It don’t matter what you want.”
He grabbed her hand and dragged
Nearly taking her off her feet.
Link came in right about then
Knocked Johnny into his seat.

Link tucked Esther behind himself
And he warned Johnny not to try
Or he would be leaving there
With no time to say goodbye.
Johnny was always long on mean
But pretty much short on bright.
He figured he could whip Link
In a short but brutal fight.

So, they squared off and circled
And scowled for a few feet.
Link punched Johnny in the throat
And knocked him back into his seat.
Choking Johnny still attacked
So link kicked him in the knee.
He said “I don’t play slap and cry.
I don’t fool with those who attack me.”

Link and Esther have stayed there
As two knitted into just the one.
The bar has cleaned up clientele
And is a place for having fun.
Johnny Wacklin went away and
Spent some time in a clinic.
I can say he deserved what he got
Without being branded a cynic.
Make them suffer, fall in love
Words dripping with emotion
You're the singer....alchemist
Words and Music are your potion
Make them cry, laugh, and sing
Make them react to every line
Stir the *** some....Alchemist
On a tightrope made of rhyme

One chance is all you get
Working without a net
No one will hear you fall
You're tightrope is made of words
On stage at the Bluebird
You've only one chance...that's all

Write your thoughts out, share your dreams
Do it in three four time
Put it to music, bring them along
On your musical tightrope line
Go out and sell yourself, nightly
And make them feel what is inside
Remember, you're up on a tightrope
And each night, is a completely new ride

One chance is all you get
Working without a net
No one will hear you fall
You're tightrope is made of words
On stage at the Bluebird
You've only one chance...that's all


There's no support but words and music
At the Bluebird, you're on your own
Make them a part of you, do the best you can do
Make them all family, sing to them each...alone
Don't forget don't look down, just focus on the light
Come on now, Alchemist, stir the *** some more
Make them all cry again, make them remember when
Sing from the tightrope and they'll fall in love once more

One chance is all you get
Working without a net
No one will hear you fall
You're tightrope is made of words
On stage at the Bluebird
You've only one chance...that's all
Better days were in the past
For the bar and all inside
Windows broke and lights burned out
The bar had long since died

Carpets gone and floors all worn
Scorch marks on the wall
Smells of stale beer in the air
the bar had it's last call

Welcome to the Stagger Inn
Good Food and Cold Beer Too
Live bands every single night
And it's air conditioned too
Welcome to the Stagger Inn
A bar befits it's name
We'll take you the way you are
And we're mighty glad you came

The stage was now an eyesore
As was most of what was here
Way back in the corner
Sat a woman with her beer

Hair was streaked with boot black
From a time, who knows when
The bar was dead or dying
As were most in this old den

A few nights folks would still come here
To see the towns old jewel
What once was gold and glistened
Now was just no longer cool

The lady way back in the corner
Hadn't danced since eighty three
Ten times a night she'd go and
Play the jukebox tune  5B

A song about the devil
calling him silver tongued was  her pick
She'd hit the worn out buttons
While giving her  chapped lips a lick

Sitting in the back and nursing
A beer as dead as the bar
On a steady diet of Winstons
That had made her voice as thick as  tar

Welcome to the Stagger Inn
Good Food and Cold Beer Too
Live bands every single night
And it's air conditioned too
Welcome to the Stagger Inn
A bar befits it's name
We'll take you the way you are
And we're mighty glad you came


Maybe fifteen people came here
When the other places were full
You could see the worn out tiles
Where there once was a mechanical bull

Trends were never big here
Though they tried a few to survive
The bar was dead and dying
Housing folks who now were barely alive

The last band that they had here
Was a cover group from down in NC
They didn't last the evening
Getting out done by  old 5B

The woman in the corner
With the boot black streak of wild
closed her eyes and listened
To the memories she had compiled

If you ever choose to come here
I don't think you'll stay long
But, I know you'll hear a singer
Talk of the devil in that 5B song

The door is always open
At the dead and dying Stagger Inn
A place that still lives through the ages
And the folks remembering what might have been

Welcome to the Stagger Inn
Good Food and Cold Beer Too
Live bands every single night
And it's air conditioned too
Welcome to the Stagger Inn
A bar befits it's name
We'll take you the way you are
And we're mighty glad you came
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