This fellow here is my nephew, Lucas Richard Perkins. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Luke died last November after a 30-year battle with Cystic Fibrosis.
And believe me, he gave the bastard a beating. Cystic Fibrosis, life itself, and that thing we all fall prey to called “bad life choices” had slowly robbed Luke of just about everything he loved. Understandably, it made him resentful and so very, very angry that not many people could reach past that rage. (Although I’m happy to say that I recently learned from his mom that in the days prior to his death, he found a way to set aside the pain and become who he was at heart – a warm, compassionate, loyal, and loving human being.)
Anyway, a few weeks (maybe months) after Luke died, I felt compelled to write a poem about him. “Compelled” is too soft a word to describe the experience; basically something out there in the ether grabbed me by the brain and hand, shoved my ass into a chair, and disgorged five or six stanzas unlike anything I’d ever written. It took a couple more days to bring it to a finish, and when it was done I felt like I’d been possessed. Luke was something of a writer himself, although never had a chance to explore where it might have taken him, and I like to think he took advantage of the writer in the family to let us know he’s okay. There’s plenty of folks out there who’ll say that’s bullshit, but their opinions don’t matter. I know what I know. And even if I don’t know what I know, if it brings me, and Luke’s other family and loved ones, a measure of peace, where’s the harm?
I posted the poem to his Facebook page because I couldn’t think of where else to put it. As you might guess from the picture, motorcycles figured prominently in Luke’s life, but I couldn’t imagine any motorcycle magazine printing poetry. Ray Agnew, a long-ago friend from high school and an accomplished musician, read the poem and asked if he might set it to music. I was understandably thrilled by the offer and of course said yes. Ray took the project and ran with it, bringing in other talented musicians including his son Zane.
I’m proud to announce the song “Heaven’s Highway” (words and music by Melissa Crandall and Ray Agnew; music by Ray Agnew) is now available for purchase (a bank-breaking 99-cents) on Amazon music. You can also hear it on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDU2Alr-a2w. ALL PROCEEDS are donated to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in hopes of vanquishing this awful disease that has affected too damn many of my family.
Thank you, and happy listening.