White Smoke

(October 1978)

As the hallowed smoke rose to the skies
In the thoughts and prayers of those witness
The numbered man dressed all in holiest white
Stood to claim what was his by right

33 days does the white smoke give
As whispers and prayers mark the man
Keep the fires crying out to heaven
The doom crawls, stalking the last holy man

Red words spoken in a dance that breathes silence
Visions of future loss all cast in gray
Dancers move in a dirge for the ages
As the numbered man fills out his days.

33 days does the white smoke give
As whispers and prayers mark the man
Keep the fires crying out to heaven
The doom crawls, stalking the last holy man

Secrets and shadows crave the hallowed one
A child’s tears fill the gravedigger’s ears
The light grows dim on the all hallowed hills
As the night creeps forever near.

33 days does the white smoke give
As whispers and prayers mark the man
Keep the fires crying out to heaven
The doom crawls, stalking the last holy man
Taking him so far away

The white smoke rises to call another too soon
— Peter Ashe

Izzy, at the time he was still Peter Ashe, wrote this song after the death of Pope John Paul I.