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#1157823 - 10/15/19 08:02 PM Strange Cargo  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,602
couchgrouch Offline
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couchgrouch  Offline
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Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,602
I generally avoid intros bu-ut...this was the six-part story I wrote several years back. At the time, I couldn't find Mast in the Mist so I wrote Strange Cargo to replace it. In a way, this is the written version while Strange Apparitions is the musical version...

for the season. smile

Strange Cargo ©2012 Robert George BMI

Vessel docked in London harbor
Near a phantom shroud of fog
And a demon’s time had come, and its ink was scarlet rum
When it penned the captain’s log
Night wings in a distant belfry
Signaled gargoyles on a ledge
And an icy crescent moon, pried a doorway into doom
Like the thin edge of a wedge
There was howling near the harbor
Carriage mares began to neigh
Something wolfish, grey and dank, hastened up the entry plank
And became a stowaway

Some have said it’s foolish and naive
Some have claimed it’s superstitious
O but is it ghoulish to believe
That the dark fulfills the devil’s wishes

On the fourth night of the voyage
Watchmen found a man on deck
All his time had slowly drained, from two pin pricks in a vein
On the left side of his neck
And the crew was prone to whisper
And their appetites were cruel
Some thought it was heaven sent, since their bellies knew it meant
They would split his share of gruel
And the men were mostly cut throats
Who were shanghaied from their cells
Fortune saved their fallow souls, from appointed gallows poles
With a trap door into hell

Some have said it’s foolish and naive
Some have claimed it’s superstitious
O but is it ghoulish to believe
That the night fulfills the devil’s wishes

They dropped anchor in the darkness
On a far, exotic shore
In the cool before the dawn, heathen souls were herded on
And then they set sail once more
When the natives started dying
Chanting was their medicine
Midnight waves lit by the moon, welcomed them like white-washed tombs
When the dead were jettisoned

But a shaman was among them
And he didn’t fear the curse
And one night that pagan priest, struck a bargain with the beast
For a dark, eternal thirst

Some have said it’s foolish and naive
Some have claimed it’s superstitious
O but is it ghoulish to believe
That the night fulfills the devil’s wishes

More than half the natives perished
And the voyage was in vain
Were they better off at sea, with their briny liberty
Than to live their lives in chains
Then a grey wolf and a black wolf
Slipped off soon as they reached port
And the captain of the ship, suffered lashes from a whip
When his cargo came up short
One wolf made his lair in Salem
And the other headed south
He spread hoodoo on the wind, he poured rhythm mixed with sin
In the Mississippi’s mouth

Some have said it’s foolish and naive
Some have claimed it’s superstitious
O but is it ghoulish to believe
That the dark fulfills the devil’s wishes

Soon the hearts surrounding Salem
Had been seeded with a hex
And the message of the Cross, was becoming blurred and lost
In apocalyptic sects
Then the demon sailed to England
Feasting on a schooner’s crew
When the vessel reached the shore, he took victims on the moors
Ripping London’s harlots, too
His disciple roamed the delta
And created rock n roll
Taught a kid to play guitar, at a crossroads ‘neath the stars
And in trade he took his soul

Some have said it’s foolish and naive
Some have claimed it’s superstitious
O but is it ghoulish to believe
That the dark fulfills the devil’s wishes

Somewhere through the steamy southern nights
In the delta sweat and dust
Legends say a phantom bluesman rides
On a haunted Greyhound bus…

Lantern on Willow Hill ©2004 Robert George BMI

There was an old skull on a stake,
high upon the plantation gate
as a warning to any who'd run
but wind whisp'ring through its eyes,
told every slave to rise
and run for the sake of their sons

hushed words hovered in negro shacks,
'bout a train on a freedom track
that took runaways past Baltimore
and Seth sawed on his fiddle at night,
he knew if those rumors were right
the signal he was looking for

was a lantern on Willow Hill
hung low on a steady limb
a flame burning for the free
when moons were down and light was dim

Massah sweated on his sickbed,
with Missus wringing rags on his head
and having poultry mashed for his meals
but his son beat negroes like steeds,
till they spit teeth like melon seeds
and old women fell cold in high noon fields

and Seth imagined how long ago,
his mother rocked his cradle slow
now the hands of time rocked her grave
he fiddled for her after dark,
he knew in the pit of his heart
if there was light left for a slave

it was the lantern on Willow Hill
hung low on a steady limb
a flame burning for the free
when moons were down and light was dim

freemen snuck in early from the north,
they bore the risks back and forth
when the train was near they flashed the light
Seth grabbed the fiddle by his cot,
he left the rest of his past to rot
when he hopped that gate in the night

Massah's son roused a dozen hounds,
that could sniff track a shadow down
they chased Seth through swamps and riverbeds
but Seth made it safe to that hill,
three screech owls and a whipporwill
watched Massah's son take one to the head

near the lantern on Willow Hill
hung low on a steady limb
a flame burning for the free
when moons were down and light was dim

three freemen led Seth to that track,
the only way he looked back
was with his mother in his eyes
night was still...they were safe for now,
but they each knew devils somehow
always return in a diff'rent guise

steam soon mixed with silver fog,
and the low moans of mourning dogs
mixed with fiddling on the train
well Massah's son was never found,
but shadows took the oil lamp down
and candles in a three-eyed skull became

the lantern on Willow Hill
hung low on a steady limb
a flame burning for the free
when moons were down and light was dim

Ghost Train On the Trestle (c)2018 Ricki Bellos/Robert George

Deep within the woods of Caroline
Mist is thin among the midnight pines
Is that starlight on the railroad steel
Or the shimmer glow of haunted wheels

It casts no reflection
On the muddy river
When the coal car passes
Even shadows shiver
Half moons hang the lantern
Hoot owls are the whistle
Steam up to the heavens
Ghost train on the trestle

Long ago a secret northbound train
Carried people from the chill of chains
Bullwhip scars across their naked backs
As that engine whispered down the tracks

It casts no reflection
On the muddy river
When the coal car passes
Even shadows shiver
Half moons hang the lantern
Hoot owls are the whistle
Steam up to the heavens
Ghost train on the trestle

It was blues and old field hollers
That soon began to pass the tale
Slow train crawlin’ cross the water
And dynamite along the rails

And when slaves rebuilt the river bridge
They heard freedom ringing from the ridge
Cos the darkest track to liberty
Sets a desp’rate soul forever free

It casts no reflection
On the muddy river
When the coal car passes
Even shadows shiver
Half moons hang the lantern
Hoot owls are the whistle
Steam up to the heavens
Ghost train on the trestle

Superstition Coast ©2013 Robert George BMI

Bonnie thanked the driver of the 18 wheeler
She was far from home but hoped the miles would heal her
She’s a grounded realist…a born survivor
So she listened with suspicion to the driver
When he told her “honey, this ain’t Indiana
This is hoodoo country in Louisiana
Legends say this bayside’s been infested by the undead or a dark warlock
Well, she smiled and once again she thanked him kindly
And her faith in proven facts would lead her blindly
To the shoreline and a place to sleep beneath an old amusement park boardwalk

Little did she know that folks were disappearing
And the city council had convened a hearing
Some had said that pothead surfer hit a riptide
And he’ll meet the Grateful Dead there on the flipside
Only one man in the village formed a theory
When they found the pale white corpse of Father Leary
Cos the Rev’rend’s cross was burned and crushed and blood was spattered on his white collar
Now that Padre’s in a warm celestial Eden
O but somethin’ out there fed while he was bleedin’
Was the dead of a night a talisman or haven for a hungry nightcrawler

And an old gravedigger nursed his knees and aching joints
As he carved his shovel handle to a sharpened pont

Bonnie woke up to a rumbling roller coaster
Strolled the boardwalk past the missing person posters
And the nervous vendor’s hands were gnarled n knotted
Said a bum was found with holes in his carotid
Then the vendor offered her some cotton candy
Whispered she should keep some holy water handy
And avoid the beach at night cos that’s where cops’d said that something could happen
Sure enough the minions of an undead warlord
Slept beside him right below some loosened floorboards
While a german shepherd stood guard on the shoreline by a beach front wood cabin

Well, the wizened old gravedigger’s almost eighty
And he knows those legends spread as a far as Haiti
Delta crossroads echoed songs of phantom bluesmen
Yet no one believed those tales but tabloid newsmen
Now the sun was setting slowly on the shoreline
And he walked the sands as stealthy as in wartime
Till he found some bodies strewn like ragdolls all around a smold’ring campfire
There were rum and roaches and some suntan lotion
And some fading footprints headed for the ocean
Drops of red on bodies drained had been the only traces of a vampire
Down the shoreline monsters rose up in their master’s thrall
Many walked but one would grab a surfboard near the wall

Well, the sharp old timer had begun a journal
Soon as he had learned the killings were nocturnal
He went to his trailer and he wrote by lamplight
Mulled the murders from the surfer to the campsite
And he knew the victims would become immortal
Somewhere in the darkness Hades had a portal
And he knew that out there on the bayside was the lair of the gatekeeper
So he dimmed his lamp and closed his eyes and rested
Come the dawn he’d locate where the undead nested
With a cross around his neck he prayed that sunshine wouldn’t be a late sleeper

Underneath the dock was chilly, damp and rancid
It was dark and Bonnie thought she had to chance it
Laid her blanket down and thought she’d made the right call
Better she stayed hidden after nightfall
Once her life was phones, the twitterverse and hashtags
Now she hauled her bed and home around in trashbags
And she had to brave another long night in a town controlled by black curses
Then she grabbed some driftwood and she started screamin’
When she saw the fangs and red eyes of a demon
Then she stabbed it and it turned to ash as clouds rolled by like Cadillac hearses

And yet hitchin’ home would never cross young Bonnie’s mind
Cos her new step-father was a demon of another kind

Well, the old man heard some noises by his trailer
Was it devils or another drunken sailor
But it was a young girl so he brought her in and wrapped her in a wool afghan
Bonnie told her tale and though her thoughts were hazy
She could tell he didn’t think that she was crazy
Right at sunrise they set out with bags of old fence pickets and a full gas can

Bonnie still had doubts about the superstitions
But her heart found purpose in the old man’s mission
Nearing dark they found the cabin and the hellhound
And at first his growl and red eyes held them spellbound
Then the old man stabbed the wild beast and he killed it
And its flesh dropped off its skeleton and wilted
Then he doused the place with gas and lit a match and burned the church of black masses
Twilight echoed with the wailing of the wicked
Some escaped but Bonnie killed them with a picket
And the old man was relieved that young kids aren’t all just pampered slackasses

After that the murders stopped and things were quiet
If a tourist asked the locals would deny it
But the old man read the nearby papers closely
And he’d clip out items that seemed strange or ghostly
Then one night a surfboard came ashore at high tide
Where some kids’d partied till their dreams were tie-dyed
And the old man read about another beach town with a string of odd killings
He had wondered if the dead still roamed the region
Or was that the last of Papa Legba’s legion
Either way with Bonnie’s help they’d rid the south of hell’s disciples…God willing

There’s a demon up the coastline surfin’ by the moon
And he’s made a vacant lighthouse his unholy tomb

Cloak and Dagger ©2013 Robert George BMI

I was standing by the ER…leanin’ on my broom
Keepin’ one eye on the TV in the waiting room
Action News at 6 replaced their crusty weatherman
With a gal that looked just like a busty Heather Graham
And she joked how sometimes full moons make folks seedier
And that night the moon’d cross paths with a meteor
Lotsa older nurses saw the bad signs in the sky
Later on they said that that was why
Tourists found that first dead body outside Fuddrucker’s

Were the killings fueled by grief ‘r sadness
Or what codgers still called “reefer madness”
Either way nobody cared about a local jeweler’s claim of missing silverware

By the witching hour streets became a smorgasbord
First they found a headless hooker in the 13th ward
I was helpin’ out and wheelin’ gurneys to the morgue
Took my iPhone out and looked up “Urban Myths.org”
Read a murky tale about an old man and a blonde
Some folks said she carried stakes…some said a magic wand
They were seen last summer near a boardwalk up the coast
They’d been called to hunt down ghouls n ghosts
And they rid that boardwalk town of undead bloodsuckers

And detectives here had been assumin’,
That the heinous murderer was human
But a coupla nurse’s aides with Creole in their blood though somethin’ else was in the air

Now the only witness was a drunken, hapless clown
When his blind date was dismembered in her strapless gown
Though he said the park was filled with phantom swirls of fog
Moonlight found the teeth belonging to a rabid dog
And although I don’t believe in too much hi-tone crap
I downloaded one cool urban legend iPhone app
And where lights are gallows and the ghostly shadows hang
Folks’d seen a beast with bloody fangs
And bats replaced the pigeons on the tops of skyscrapers

And I read some more and got to thinkin’
That the moonlight curse just might be Incan
And that any poor unlucky soul who felt its wicked bite and lived had best beware

In the darkened alleys that are strangers to the dawn
Cold, malignant spirits swim the night winds there to spawn
And a dealer counts his cash and climbs a fire escape
Where the shadow on his shoulder has a monstrous shape
As he ducked in through his window he could feel its breath
Then its lupine jaws released a pulsing creek of death
Then the four winds ate their fill of hundred dollar bills
And his chalky skin began to chill
And his corpse’s sticky blood became like flypaper

And his dank apartment was a pig pen
But his Rolex was a ghetto Big Ben
Cos it doesn’t matter where you’re staying just how good you look while staying there

When my shift was through I took a foolish shortcut home
I heard growlin’ and my flesh bid farewell to my bones
Then a blonde girl darted from behind a stack of crates
And she wore a scarlet cloak and wielded silver blades
And an old man watched behind a dumpster near the street
As a beast approached whose fangs were red with blood and meat
Then the old man kicked a can and caught the monster’s eye
As the blonde girl yelled a warning cry
We both saw the demon bite the old man’s right shoulder

Then she stabbed it with her silver dagger
And the creature howled in rage and staggered
Then it lay down and transformed into a naked man whose death restored a peaceful stare

Well, the old man’s bloody hat blew down the alleyway
As the blonde girl knelt beside her mentor where he lay
As she held his head he made a quiet last request
Then she kissed his cheek and sank her dagger in his chest
Someone heard the noise and wailing sirens bit the night
She sat on some boxes and I stood there by her side
When the lawmen and the coroner had fin’lly gone
Her gold hair was like a sister to the dawn
Yet her teardrops seem to make the morning light colder

And my whole life seemed to lose its meaning
As if I’d been wasting time and dreaming
While this young girl and her teacher had been doing what no other souls would ever dare

So I treated her to breakfast at a donut shop
Then when went downtown and answered questions for the cops
And she just smiled pretty…acting clueless, dumb and vague
While I knew she’d saved the city from a mystic plague
We were there awhile and thought they questioned her at length
They were lookin’ for a killer with inhuman strength
Then we took an evening trolley to her rented room
And the night felt safer from the moon
As we sat for hours and we had a heartfelt chat

And the blonde girl said her name was Bonnie
And a duty was conferred upon me
As I realized the young girl’s lonely mission was a fate that I’d been called to share

Come the dawn I quit my job and then we made two last stops
First she spent some money at a vintage clothing shop
Then we took a silent cab ride out to Potter’s Field
Where a cheap pine box made sure the old man’s time was sealed
Well, we got there right before the lid was hammered on
And they let poor Bonnie say a prayer and read a Psalm
But an old caretaker said it was unorthodox
When she opened up a fancy box
Wiped a tear and then took out a brand new dark felt hat

He had been her savior and her teacher
He was holy although not a preacher
And she hoped it wouldn’t matter where he’s staying just how good he looked while staying there

Mystery Train to Mount Zion ©2013 Robert George BMI

Me and Bonnie left that bookstore in my beat up Opel
She had works on haunted catacombs,
Satyrs, manitous and Gallic gnomes
And a demon who had dined well in Constantinople
Then we drove coastline ‘neath a morning double rainbow
She read news reports and ancient texts,
Thinkin’ she knew where he might be next
Following a trail of murdered drifters and a Jane Doe

Then a Gulf Stream Great White ended up with ashes in his mouth
When he bit the head clean off an undead surfer way down south
And then gradually the trail cooled down
Me n Bonnie hit some beachfront towns
Layin’ out and blastin’ oldies like The Smiths and Mudhoney

She read cavern drawings, hieroglyphics and acrostics
Photographs in scholars’ articles
Scraps of scrolls and parchment particles
Long forgotten legends of the Druids and the Gnostics
Found a tabloid story on a foggy Balkan fortress
How some farmers stormed the stony walls,
Searched the dungeons and the secret halls
And they drove the owner out with chants and torches

Then a Balkan freighter sailing for the southern USA
Reached there as a ghost ship in a tiny Carolina bay
And the story said the local law
Hid and whitewashed ev’rything they saw
And explained it as a tale of pirate myths and blood money

And then river barges ran aground with missing crewman
And when drunks and drifters disappeared,
Superstitious priests and locals feared
That the midnight prowler was both more and less than human
Then a blood drained farmer was discovered in his grain cart
Beauty parlor whispers passed the word,
How the cemetery was disturbed
Corpses had gone missing near the fence line by the train yard

Me and Bonnie whittled stakes and sharpened up her hurling axe
Then we chased the moonlight down some lonely railroad tracks
Sometimes late at night she’d hardly speak
As we walked across old rocky creeks
In the land of sons of sons of slaves and Jim Crow sharecroppers

Then she said the early Church was full of sects and schisms
But in all the volumes she had read,
Once the demon prince was fin’lly dead
His unholy children would be cured of vampirism
We found hidden drug shacks full of weed and meth and Quaaludes
There were undead lairs in old tool sheds,
She would pierce their hearts or slice their heads
But we both we sure that such discov’ries were just preludes

One night near a trestle we could a train approaching fast
And yet it did not appear or form a shape as it went rumbling past
Still we gave no heed or paid no mind
Bonnie’s mission was another kind
No distraction or an unseen enemy would dare stop her

For her ancient foe was born near Sodom and Gomorrah
He took victims throughout Palestine,
Then inspired sacred poles and shrines
In defiance of the Sinai tablets and the Torah
Yet that night he moved as mist across a nearby meadow
Eyes in hollow oak trees watched him drift
Then they saw his shape begin to shift
As he moved up toward the tracks he cast a lupine shadow

It was almost sunrise…he was headed for his nearby lair
Then he spied a scruffy teen-age boy and girl with golden hair
And his proud eyes saw just easy prey
They ignored the coming break of day
And the shining hills lined the distant east like wainscoting

He took human form with pearly fangs and chalky pallor
And his breath was brimstone stoked in hell,
Bonnie drew a stake and fought him well
Yet there’s sometimes more to fate than bravery and valor
Then there came a distant rumbling down the misty trestle
And an ancient instinct in the night,
Told her this time she should stand aside
And allow salvation from another chosen vessel

And so this I swear and to my dying day I can attest
Bloodlust was beheaded when a phantom train was manifest
It was gone in dust and starlit smoke
And it clung to Bonnie’s scarlet cloak
While some ghostly night wings watched it all like they were trainspotting

Then that old train started glowing like it was enchanted
And as morning found the eastern sky,
In a flash that train lifted high
We heard voices sing that liberty was fin’lly granted
And then victims started waking up from something monstrous
Kicking free from hidden packing crates,
Leaving crypts and climbing iron gates
Feeling blessed and born anew as soon as they were conscious

And yet for so long as God is far off and anonymous
Mortals see their death as murky, dark and ominous
Maybe ev’ry vision in those scrolls
Are just poultices for fevered souls
Yet I still felt blessed to know a young girl called to slay demons

So I took her hand and we walked back along the river
Then she told me of her childhood years,
Ad baptized her tender cheeks in tears
So I held her close with all the comfort I could give her
Then I told I’d been just a Bubba workin’ graveyard
Gawkin’ at a pretty weathergirl,
When the fates revealed the netherworld
And the cloak and dagger beauty who became our safeguard

We both poured our hearts out on our way back to the peaceful sea
And I said the most indebted of the souls she’d saved was me
Then we rested from her sacred war
And we spent the summer on the shore
Makin’ love and laughing…drinkin’ cherry wine and day dreamin’

Last edited by couchgrouch; 10/17/19 07:11 PM.

Nashville demos etc:


other demos:


Amazon Kindle books by Robert George you may enjoy:

1) Americana

2) Teenage Graceland

3) The Will to Be

4) Fort Mystery

5) Wheel Sea

6) My One True Love
#1157827 - 10/15/19 11:41 PM Re: Strange Cargo [Re: couchgrouch]  
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,602
couchgrouch Offline
Top 30 Poster
couchgrouch  Offline
Top 30 Poster

Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 7,602
Frak...I forgot to include Ghost Train on the Trestle. The story
doesn't make sense without it. Next time I get to my desk top...

...avoid the Lysergic kiddies...


Last edited by couchgrouch; 10/17/19 07:13 PM.

Nashville demos etc:


other demos:


Amazon Kindle books by Robert George you may enjoy:

1) Americana

2) Teenage Graceland

3) The Will to Be

4) Fort Mystery

5) Wheel Sea

6) My One True Love

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