This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Speak to Me?
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No One's Son

written by: Bob Jensen


performed by: Shane Howard



I was born upon a brilliant day
In August such as this
My mother’s birthday
When they remember how
the Queen of Heaven cheated death
And the corruption of the flesh
Or so they told us on our Fete Nationale
But I made no such assumption
Nor was I likely to

For my solitary fear
When the silence was replete
And my soul was stark and naked
in the absence of deceit
When bravado took a breather
And the day was nearly done
The arrant recognition
That I was no one’s son

I was born with broken bones
A breached deal
Over zealous in the womb
Anxious, fidgety
Not willing to clear customs
In the usual way
For there was a highway
And a sunset
A grackle’s joyful call
A paperboat upon an orange horizon
And a hidden pond
Bursting with mystery

One small arm appeared
One small hand beckoning
I had not yet arrived
And already I was in serious trouble
For I was not prepared to wait
To be processed in the accepted way
Born with the stamp of a trouble maker
My arms pinned
Shoulder broken
And a lifelong detestation
For clearing customs
In the usual way

And my solitary fear
When evicted from the womb
For the cutting of that cord
Was a dreadful kind of tomb
Was that trouble at the border
Obliged me now to run
A brand new desperado
And I was no one’s son

I was born of two fathers
One soft and gentle
One hard and stern
One kept me on his knee
And one, on bended knee
For a while I waxed
Into my filial indenture
I was the good and obedient son

But then there was a highway
A sunset
And the mysteries of the night
The fragrance of the flesh
The urgent lure from innocence

I chose the world
And turned my back on two fathers
Closed the door behind me
On two houses
To sleep rough in the world
I returned to one
When I was cold and hungry
For I did not have to genuflect
In that abode
I did not feel the eyes
Of judgment upon me
At my father’s table

I was the errant son
The prodigal progeny
Perennially impoverished
With a deep and unassailable thirst
And empty pockets
Vigorous under the moon
Indolent in the blinding glare
Of the midday sun
Always searching for a highway
When there was hard work to be done

And my solitary fear
lay dormant in the night
When the room was filled with the cheer
The crowing cock nowhere in sight
But the truth could not be hidden
‘Neath the cruel, relentless sun
That I had failed both fathers
That I was no one’s son

The road was filled in equal parts
With sunshine
And bone chilling cold
With epiphany
And self loathing

I did not think that it would be
A long road
Thought that it would come
To a quick, abrupt end
Halting as a tombstone
Hard, fixed, immovable
And blocking the horizon

But the road was long
And I chose it easily
There was no destination
No designated terminus
Only a highway
Meandering and rough
Fraught with danger
And a sparsely stocked larder
Of certitude
A daily dram of chance
Morsels of adventure
Crumbs of love
A fleeting glimpse of eternity
Moments of startling clarity
Small parcels of ecstasy

There were cold nights too
With darkness so complete
It seeped into my bones
Permeated my unvarnished soul
And tried to tear it
From bone and flesh

If I had not held fast
With one uncertain hand
On that cliff at the edge of the world
It might have slipped away
Into the vast ether
I might have passed into that night
That is not rescued
By the warming rays of dawn

But the sun did circle 'round the earth
In a most Catholic orbit
To rise and warm my bones
And breathe the soul
Back into my body

For I was born of the sun
Of earth, wind and fire
Born of the Son
running towards that final pyre
Born of two fathers
A runaway pram
Nobody’s son
Born on the lam

And now I sit along the roadside
In October’s warming glow
Surrounded by beauty
In the pleasant afternoon
Out of breath
Out of pocket
Out of virtue
While the hourglass
Becomes more sober
Less tipsy
With every fleeting grain of sand

November and the climbing path
Loom before me
I do not find
The even footing of spring
And this road
Does not possess two lanes
The ascending path is narrow
Rough and rocky
Fraught with peril

But who would build
Such a road
Unless there was some sanctuary?
A cabin
With a warming fire at the end?

I choose to believe
That there will be
For such is the naivety of faith
I choose to believe
That my fathers
Have set a candle in the window
And I rise from my long drink
Of Autumn’s blood red wine
To climb

And my solitary prayer
With the sun behind that hill
My soul empty of light
In the autumn’s evening chill
Set the table in that cabin
For one and one and one
And one more chance
I pray thee
To be my fathers’ son

Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen

Bob Jensen has been writing poetry, music and prose his whole life.
He currently resides in Prince Edward Island, Canada where he works as a booking agent for folk musicians from around the world.
His award winning novel, The Matchbox Funeral, is available on Amazon.
Bob Jensen

Latest posts by Bob Jensen (see all)

Shane Howard

Shane Howard

Canada has Bruce Cockburn and America had Pete Seeger. The premiere voice of conscience in Australian folk-rock and one of the country’s greatest songwriters, Shane Howard first achieved notoriety with the rock band, 'Goanna', releasing 'Solid Rock' in 1982. That song has become somewhat of an anthem on the continent and was one of the first contemporary songs to broach the subject of Aboriginal rights. The album, 'Spirit of Place', was released in 35 territories, worldwide.
Shane was awarded the Order of Australia in 2016.
Shane Howard

Latest posts by Shane Howard (see all)

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