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Every cloud has a silver lining.

You have to squint, sometimes,

to see it.

 

It’s harder to make a fire

without a match

but it can be done.

 

I know a guy,

for instance,

who knows a guy

who knew Charles Manson.

 

Funny kind of guy.

Not my friend;

the guy who knew Manson.

Offbeat.

Eccentric, you might say,

but he had a day job.

Security guard,

he wore a uniform,

carried a gun when he was at work.

 

So he started writing to Manson.

I don’t know why

but he did

and Manson wrote back

and I’m pretty sure I know

why Manson wrote back.

 

When you write to a guy like Manson,

and you write him again,

and again,

and again,

that tells him more

than anything you said in your letters.

 

So Manson writes back

and he says, you seem like a tuned-in guy.

He wants something;

who knows what,

but you know there’s something he wants.

 

The security guard, the offbeat guy,

there’s something he wants, too.

It’s like a game.

Problem is,

Manson’s been playing it longer.

 

Well a little time passes,

more letters

more letters

back and forth

back and forth

and finally Manson says, hey.

You seem like a righteous dude,

you busy this weekend?

 

Now this is all

long,

long,

long

after mags like Rolling Stone

stopped hanging on Manson’s every word.

These are the later years.

This is the Manson Comeback Special.

 

Even so,

going to a maximum security prison

to see Charles Manson

is nothing like going downtown

to see your brother-in-law

in the drunk tank.

 

It’s Manson, fer cryin’ out loud.

Certain precautions have to be taken.

The rules strictly followed.

Something you would think

a guy who works security

would know.

 

Anyway, the big day comes

and the off-beat, security guard guy,

the one who carries a gun

as part of his job,

he goes to the prison

to see Manson.

He goes

in one of his guard uniform shirts,

I don’t know why

but he does.

 

And they search him.

 

And they find a bullet

he left in his shirt pocket.

 

Well obviously

he doesn’t see Manson,

and now the guards

have to deal with him;

the guards are pissed,

this means more paperwork for them

and Manson’s pissed,

this means he’s going to the hole.

 

But before they walk away,

when the guards are there

shaking their heads

and before

they walk him to the hole

and Charlie’s there

and Charlie’s shaking his head—

 

all of them, shaking their heads,

the man who said,

my thoughts set fire to your cities,

and the people who put out the flames

 

these two factions

who have been at war so long,

for a moment they stand together

and in that moment

fire is made.

 

All because the guy

who knows a guy

who knows my friend

forgot to check his pockets.

 

You have to squint sometimes,

to see the silver lining;

even without a match

you can make a fire.

 

 

 

 

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