Listen & Peruse
Miles to Go
Every single movie is ending
faded to the black
Whether it’s a coronary violence
(a massive heart attack)
Or it’s a flyer from the fire of an automatic Mack
You get a go and then it’s over
And you never coming back.
Every single planet’s just a
small exploding rock
On ours, the lives of all the greatest men
Like Roosevelt and Bach
Are interlocking with the beggars
And the traders of the stock
Still the universe surrounding them
Is winding down the clock
Every single life is ending
Pretty much the same
As just a struggle for the money
Or the love
Or for the fame
And it’s a fight like every night
For all the hungry sick and lame
And then you die a year goes by
And no one even knows your name
For every single friend of mine
I’ve ever had to lose is still a
ghost that I am carrying
inside my tennis shoes.
The nihilist is wandering past the woods,
so lovely dark and deep
‘Cuz for them
I still have miles to go
Before I sleep.
“I asked my friend Coco, who I knew to be a brilliant writer, to write a lyric for this project, and within about an hour, they’d sent me this expertly-crafted text. From the exquisite rhyming, driving scansion, and poetic references, you can clearly see their brilliance, anger, resignation, and resilience. For Coco, and many of my other homeless friends, their lives are marked with the relentless grief of losing people they love to overdose, exposure, violence, and despair, and this text beautifully captures the experience of slogging forward with those ghosts. Our homeless community walks upwards of 10 miles a day, from meal to meal, camp to shelter, and from one place they’re not welcome to another. When the lockdowns happened at the beginning of the pandemic and all the shelters and libraries and fast food dining rooms closed, our homeless community literally had no other legal place to be except trudging endlessly along the sidewalk, as their feet bled and their shoes disintegrated. Thus, I chose to set the text using a blues work-song because the experience of homelessness is a relentless, involuntary, dehumanizing, and often fatal form of oppression that is well represented by a musical tradition that was developed by enslaved Black people, and was continued into the 20th century by hard-labor prison chaingangs. The driving foot stomps are characteristic of this genre, and are also reminiscent of the endless walking of our homeless community.” – Katie Kring
Coco is a survivor of over a decade of collective homeless experience, domestic violence, and addiction. They have ridden the rails, slept in vans, tents, and trap houses, overcame addiction, been locked up for petty poverty crimes, and parented some terrific children. Throughout, they have remained a loving parent, a brilliant writer and communicator, and a fierce advocate for justice for those experiencing poverty and marginalization.
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