Farewell to Billy’s

By Jeff Willis

Once I lived down by the sea

In an old wood house with the name “Billy’s”

Eight shotgun shacks, front and back

But a view and a breeze they didn’t lack


All the residents I knew well

Each of them had a story to tell

Young and old, rich and poor

Bum and Saint passed Billy’s door


Oochee, the artist, lived in a cloud

Of his few pictures he was very proud

He paid no heed to critics unkind

For his best work was in his mind


To find Mr. Nelson you didn’t look far

Just underneath the nearest car

He had the devotion of a young Monk

To turn fine machines into hunks of junk


Markey rolled from his waterbed

Out through the window and onto his head

Then said to me in a state of shock

“Of my next six pack I’d better take stock”


I was the biggest fool of them all

Pretending to hear a different call

Working each day in the legal halls

Then rushing home to juggle some balls


Old black Jack lived in the back

And carried his Brandy in a paper sack

Cuban Bill cooked rice and beans

While perfecting his acting dreams


Christie, Roberta and Lenore too

Comprised the distaff side of the crew

O’Mara and Schley came by for the day

They were the members “honoree”


Friends dropped by to say hello

Have a beer and watch the show

On the Walk, Life did pour

Like blue waves crashing onto shore



We started out most every day

With breakfast at The Lafayette Café

It felt like home as you opened the door

And were greeted by Ruby from Baltimore


Her life was hard but you”d never know

She laughed and joked as she poured our Joe

We carried little cash but had our fun

For the Great Cheap-off had now begun

Each day brought a new parade

Which we perused from Billy’s shade

The girls on the Walk were fair and free

And some even came to visit me


I remember one with long dark hair

She sang and danced with devil-may-care

I remember two with eyes of blue

They taught me things I never knew



We dealt the cards, then dealt some more

With all who came through Billy’s door

Hearts and Spades we loved to play

But the losers always hated to pay


X-Swami-X stood upon his bench

And into our minds threw a monkey wrench

Donnie B Waugh was a sight to see

If Elvis was your cup of tea


Kim the Mudman carried a cross

In protest of some lost cause

Mimes and clowns and jugglers too

Performed for those passing through


Gurus and prophets of every kind

If you wanted to seek you could always find

Some took off to a higher plane

Some crash-landed inside your brain


Holy Moly, what’s that sound

Whose that jumping up and down?

Riding Pachyderms in orange gowns

The Hari Krishnas have come to town


Tippecanoe and Tyler too

Knew the Admiral of Peru

They smoked some hash with Fu Manchu

Then they danced the Boogaloo



Friends moved on and left the fold

A few the devil bought and sold

Some went to pot on drugs and booze

We all had certain paths to choose


I ran on the sand to keep me fit

Then went downtown in my strait jacket

The Siren’s song, we were in its sway

I heard her call nearly every day


Though dollars and sense I could never hold

Each setting sun poured forth its gold

We all were Kings for a moment or two

When the evening breeze blew off the blue



Hey, Hey, Hey we”re sailing away, if this dark night ever turns to day

Hey, Hey, Hey I won’t despair, the Jack of Hearts has paid our fare