The Devil’s Trail

You’ve taken on a violent cause, for your two friends who’ve died.
But, Tappan, take a moment’s pause, before you start that ride.
You’re travelin’ to a place where no man should ever go,
Where you’ll see the devil’s face and you’ll see his fire’s glow.

You’ve not seen sorrow in your life like what’s out on that side;
You’ll lose the chance to take that wife; she’ll be another’s bride.
Baraga is the man who will take away your soul;
But you’ll call the devil’s hand for the innocence he stole.

Chorus: Tappan, you take the devil’s trail,
But you can’t save the world, my friend.
You’ll ride out through the bullets’ hail,
And the battleground is where you’ll meet your end.

There’s good men ridin’ next to you, and they’ll take that trail too;
And in your life there’s been too few of partners who are true.
Don’t lead them on a trail that will see them wind up dead;
Right through the bullets’ hail, to a graveyard that is red.

The sheriff and old Adam Beck are now your closest friends;
You take them on this bloody trek, they both could meet their ends.
And Tania’s waiting there for her man to find his sense,
To forget the outlaws’ lair, and to not cross Satan’s fence.

Chorus 1:  Tappan, you take the devil’s trail,
But you can’t save the world, my friend.
You’ll ride out through the bullets’ hail,
And the battleground is where you’ll meet your end.

Chorus 2: Tappan, you take the devil’s trace,
But the devil isn’t who you think he’ll be,
You’ll see too late Baraga’s face;
Then you’ll wish that you had given heed to me.

You’re not a man who listens well—you took off on that track;
You started on the road to hell—now there’s no turning back.
You found the outlaw den, and you found Baraga, too—
Was it worth it to you then, just to taste the devil’s brew?

I tried to tell the tale to you, but didn’t know just how;
You wish that you had listened to the truth you’re seeing now.
Baraga is a face you know, and you curse your stubborn trek;
You’ll know where’er you go, that you stretched your brother’s neck.

Chorus 2: Tappan, you took the devil’s trace,
And the devil wasn’t who you thought he’d be,
You’ve seen too late Baraga’s face,
And you wish that you had given heed to me.

Chorus 3: Tappan, there’s still two of them left,
But you can’t save the world, my friend.
You’ll leave your little wife bereft,
For a battleground is where you’ll meet your end.

—Kirby Jonas, October 18, 1998

 

For those of you who have read my novel, The Devil’s Blood, you already know the story behind this song/poem. For the rest of you, if you’re curious, come follow Captain Tappan Kittery on his adventures in southern Arizona. (As a side note, actor Clint Walker gave me his gracious permission to use his image on the cover, so I painted three different views of him, back in the days when I still had time to paint.)