art by jeffrey donato

sweet jezebel

In Louisian’ where swamp is land and cotton falls like snow
Where alligators slink, mosquitos drink, and wild things love to grow
It was past midnight, I had one headlight and my gas pedal on the floor
I was tired of watching clocks, taking hard knocks, and locking my dreams in a drawer

Up ahead in the night a deer took flight as warm rain started to fall
Heard my tires squeal as I jerked the wheel and drove straight into an oak tree wall
My head in a daze, I escaped through a maze of busted steel and glass
In silk pantyhose with holes in the toes, I started running through the tall wet grass

I saw a house all alone, as bare as a bone, like someone had thrown it away
It reeked of smoke and neglect that choked memories of a better day
I stood at the door, soaked to my core and feeling just a little insane
When the door opened wide, a man stood inside and said come in out of the rain
Come in out of the rain

His eyes were dark like the eyes of a shark, his face was neither young nor old
I paused for a beat before moving my feet and crossing that wide threshold
It was a summer night and a fire burned bright, but I began to shiver and shake
He gave me a coat of fur, a smile demur, and a plate full of devil’s food cake

He sat down on a chair like a lion in his lair and lit up a thin cigar
With an air of conceit, reached down by his feet and picked up a red guitar
He ran his hand down the strings like his fingers were wings and a strange silence fell
He said this is my story my life and my glory, this is my sweet Jezebel

Jezebel was slim with ebony trim, and I stared in wonder and awe
Her neck was inlaid with pearl and jade, and I couldn’t find one single flaw
He started to play, and I started to pray as that fire burned hotter than hell
And I could feel a hole burning clear through my soul as I listened to sweet Jezebel
I listened to sweet Jezebel

She sang about sin and places she’d been, and I found myself lost in her spell
Murder and lies, deceit and disguise, was the song of sweet Jezebel
Like a siren of the sea she sang it to me, and each note was calling my name
And the harder I fought, the closer I got, to standing in that red-hot flame

A faint morning glow, through a dusty window, washed over me like a flood
And the song of a sparrow came straight as an arrow through that guitar red as blood
There was fear and surprise in those cold shark eyes as I reached for sweet Jezebel
And the flames leapt higher as straight into the fire I threw that guitar back to hell
Threw that guitar back to hell

An unholy scream cut through my dream, and I woke with my head on the dash
My car smelled of smoke from the rain that had choked the fire that flamed from the crash
I jumped from my seat away from that heat and kneeled on that rain-soaked ground
I prayed till I cried, till the fear in my died, and on that lonely road I was found

Never again will I be taken in by a stranger in the night
I take the path narrow and the song of a sparrow leads me straight into the arms of the light
But sometimes in the dark I see the eyes of a shark, and I’m lost in a dream for a spell
Before I can wake, I eat devil’s food cake and hear again sweet Jezebel
Hear again sweet Jezebel

lyrics & music: Mary James


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