for Jimmy Webb
At age 18 I had never been to Phoenix
nor had I ever been to Albuquerque or
Oklahoma but hearing the anguish
of Glen Campbell singing “By the Time
I Get to Phoenix” made me feel like
a brother to the one who wrote it,
made me feel he knew the highways
of life and how love can sometimes lose you
along the way. I dropped so many dimes
into our college juke box to hear
the strains of major and minor chords
beneath the story of a guy who leaves
a girl who never thought he’d really go.
I once heard Jimmy Webb at The Bitter End,
his voice hoarse and gruff,
his fingers pressing piano keys
like a sculptor squeezing clay.
At the end he sang “By the Time
I Get to Phoenix,” his head thrust back,
his eyes squinting into the stage lights
as if somehow he were seeing
what all of us could feel.