RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Thursday, June 23

45s on 33 – #75: “Ha Ha (Laughing Song)”

[The following is Railroad Time’s accounting of how he came to be in these time tunnels of central Virginia. It should be noted that the entire time he relayed these details, he laughed heartily throughout – a literally “heartily” where the laughter was without thought and deep and real. There was a rhythm to his speech that I doubt my recounting here – again, I’m no journalist – will properly reflect, like the clacks of a train running alongside a skinny thick river rustling through rural country. And though Willie Strunk, Jr. may disapprove, for sake of sanctity, I’m gonna abandon quotation marks for his account.]

I won’t no slave by law, ‘cause it was after that time, but ain’t nobody ever thought slaves was right, in a real sense. Devil men find a way to make it happen though, make different laws that take the wrong and launder it through their laws until it can seem like it’s right. That was me, ‘cause I was in jail. But then they let me loose to slice sap out the pines for the turpentine people. And if they gonna tell you, you can stay in jail or you can be free, you gonna be free, always. Ain’t no sensible man alive, or dead, who gonna choose to stay in jail, unless he done been made a slave all the way down to his heart and don’t know how to think right no more.

So I was cutting them pines and pulling the turpentine, and ain’t never been a single man with as much energy as me, so I was rolling through them pines. That’s when they started calling me Railroad Time at first. I got more sap for them turpentine people than anybody. But at the same time, I know right and wrong and that ain’t always the same as allowed and against the law. So I had to move, and I guess that name Railroad Time stuck to me, even though to me I was just ol’ Mo, country boy from ‘bama, natural born bama. So I moved with the tracks, mostly where I was ‘cause I could. But then a sheriff came one time, trying to force the law on me, wrong as ever, and that man was a fool, done went and shot hisself while trying to get at me. You know the law ain’t gonna admit the law was wrong though, so the papers was saying I killed that sheriff. So I had to move a little wider a circle than before, stayed to the tracks though. Took what I need if I needed it, and shared what I had if somebody else needed it too. If it got too cold, I went south; too warm, went north. If it got too crowded, I went west; and if I got to feeling too alone, went east. Just went as things told me too. Along the way I learned how to be a wolf if I needed to be, couldn’t do it for too long, but I could wolf myself away for a day or two if I needed to really get away from some devil ass people.

Anyways, I ain’t one for maps and knowing about this state or that state, but I seen the desert, and I seen cities full of buildings that touched the clouds, and I been places where ain’t nobody speak my language, a couple times been like that. But I was just riding, and the train was by a river and I thought I seen some little men, like little dudes out on an island. The train stopped a couple miles down, so I jumped off to go back and see what them little dudes was all about, because like I said, I been all over the place, and I ain’t seen nothing like that before.

I ain’t find them little people, though heard tell of them plenty of times. I ended up living out in some tunnels for a while, just to be safe and still for a little while, and I ran into these runaway people Woodie was with. Been wandering these tunnels ever since. I loved the trains, following them tracks all over the place. These tunnels like that too though, they go all over the place but different places. Not just like north, south, east, west though but like that got multiplied by math ain’t nobody ever showed me how to do. But I think I got it figured out a little bit by now.

[Railroad Time laughed at that. By my own calculations, I’m guessing he maybe saw the elven people at Seven Islands, and jumped off the train either at Shores or Bremo Bluff, which is directly across the river from where the slate quarries still exist. Railroad Time made me feel practical safe. Knowing things is helpful in attempting to feel safe, in calculating your observable world for solutions. But some folks – Railroad Time type folks – know in a different, deeper, non-brain way, which gives you a deep sense of safety that cognizant knowing just never really fully accomplishes.]

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