Papers

My name is Jimmy Lee Jenkins

Everyone calls me Boo

 

I play fiddle in a country and western band

We sing songs about our families and the land

We’re out there playing three hundred nights a year

Wherever there’s bright lights, wherever there’s beer

 

One night in Tulsa right after the show

I’m walking toward the bus

When up comes a fan with a pen and a piece of paper in his hand

Autographs? Man, I’m so tired but it’s part of the job

I sign it “JLJ” and hand it back to the man

“You’ve been served!” he yells

Turns out my wife wants a divorce

She’s sure that I’m cheatin’

We got no kids and she feels incomplete ‘n’

I guess I don’t blame her

But why didn’t she call?

 

A hundred nights later

We’re playing three shows in Iowa, a club in Sioux City

Half the crowd is Mexican

And everyone’s sportin’ cowboy boots and buckles

It’s one of those magic nights

The crowd loves the music and there ain’t no fights

In the bar later, I’m washin’ the road from my soul

This woman walks right up to me

She’s a little thick where my wife was thin

She’s wearing the same style cowboy hat as me

She’s as pretty as my fiddle solo on the encore

Says her name’s Maria

That our music reminds her of her daddy’s band back in Mexico

I’ve been drinking a while so it just comes out:

“So are you a groupie or what?”

She laughs, touches my arm and says:

“What’s the difference between a groupie and love at first sight?”

My turn to laugh

“I guess we’re about to find out”

 

Second night’s show I keep missing cues

Looking through the bright lights for Maria’s smile

But all I see is memories

We get no encores and our manager lets me hear about it

I’m not listening

“Easy come, easy go” I try to convince myself

Next night I play better but I’m feelin’ ‘bout the same

Comin’ out the restroom I hear a voice call out my name

“Jimmy Lee!”

Maria’s there, she grabs me from behind

Face to face, she sees my questions on the way

So she puts a finger cross my lips

“Raids,” she say

“Raids last night

I got no papers so I stay out of sight”

 

Now it’s a year later

Maria and I are at the Tijuana airport

The man says my papers aren’t in order

“You’ll have to come with me”

They keep me in a little room

I wonder if they want a bribe

Turns out there’s a typo on my passport

Cleared that up with a little “extra fee”

Just barely made the flight

Got to Guadalajara and spent the night

In the morning we rent a car

And drive up to the edge of the mountains

To the village where Maria was born

Reminds me of my hometown in Tennessee

There’s food out in every house we visit

And of course we drink for free

There’s an all night party in the square

Sometime after midnight I take her dad up on a dare

And grab his brother’s fiddle to sit in with the band

I tell him I don’t know this kind of music

He pokes me friendly in the stomach

I think he said “Just play what’s in your soul”

So off we go

Playin’ songs about our families and the land

When we wake up the next afternoon

We write a song together

We’re gonna record it next visit

In the studio he’s building

With money Maria and her brothers send home

 

Years later Maria and I are sitting in a banker’s office in Nashville

We’re sure we’re gonna get that home loan

“Everything seems to be in order” the man in the suit announces

And I think I see a smile

“There’s just one thing

I don’t see your marriage license here anywhere”

“Don’t have one,” Maria says nice and easy cause we just don’t care

“Ma’am,” he answers, “We’re a Christian bank and the business that we’re in…

Well, I don’t mean to offend

But we’re not in the business of putting a roof over sin”

 I can’t believe this guy but gettin’ mad won’t help

So I just look over to where our kids are sitting

Brown, white, and beautiful

They’re sittin’ there like angels

Doin’ just like they were told

Even though they’re only two, three, and four years old

“Excuse me sir,” I say with a sweep of my hand

“But do you see the work of Satan here?”

 

My name is Jimmy Lee Jenkins

Everyone calls me Boo

 

 

Poem / 2008