1. Apple River

From the recording The Dwindling Road

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Inspired by summer days on Apple River of Somerset, Wisconsin and by Emily Dickinson's poem on the transition that awaits us all, the moment when we go from alive to dead. As the Onion has reported, "the death rate is holding steady at 100%."

Here's the great Dickinson poem I had in mind:

I heard a Fly buzz - when I died -
The Stillness in the Room
Was like the Stillness in the Air -
Between the Heaves of Storm -

The Eyes around - had wrung them dry -
And Breaths were gathering firm
For that last Onset - when the King
Be witnessed - in the Room -

I willed my Keepsakes - Signed away
What portion of me be
Assignable - and then it was
There interposed a Fly -

With Blue - uncertain - stumbling Buzz -
Between the light - and me -
And then the Windows failed - and then
I could not see to see -"


I am floating down Apple River,
On the tube of a tractor wheel,
And the sunrays wink on the water,
As I sweep by summer fields.
And my friends and family surround me
And their laughter fills the air,
I am tubing down Apple River
With a world of time to spare.

I am floating down Apple River
In the arch of sun-glazed trees
And the moment's all that matters,
Not what's been or what will be.
And I dive to touch the bottom
Then spring up towards the light,
My spirit's with the robins
Singing in their flight.

I am floating down Apple River
Before the skies turned gray
And the days lost all their glimmer
And joy was ground away.
And the sun is red on my eyelids
As the troubled world dims,
I am curling towards the rapids
To ride them to the brim.

I am floating down Apple River
But it's only in my mind.
It's just a place that I remember
In a time I can't rewind,
And the way's been long and burdened
With too much to be learned,
Fighting the swift current
Whose ways can't be discerned.

And I'm floating down Apple River,
But nobody else is there,
All the world is what I remember
And my memory is spare,
And the banks are braced for winter,
And the water chills the soul
I am floating down Apple River
Helpless in its pull,
And I shut my eyes all the tighter
As the rapids churn and foam,
Am I'm floating down Apple River
To oblivion or home?