Molten gold apocalypse
through flame-palmed crimson leaves—
blinding blast of a mock-eclipse;
a war-drunk dawn that bereaves.
Met the Devil down in the delta
of Louisiana, the sorta’ fella’
who could sing any song a capella,
his voice smooth as sarsaparilla.
He had a diamond-studded cigar case
and he smoked souls with a smile on his face
while watching those who’d try that hobbled chase
of fame and fortune, that tired musk-rat race.
“You don’t have much to lose,”
he said, grinning at his own ruse.
“Except everything, if you so choose
to learn how you get you the Blues.”
But I was a right, ripe fool way back when
and didn’t see the trick he was playing then,
and when he said I’d lose it all to sin
I scoffed, like all those other Blues men.
My daddy got drunk, hit his head and died,
my wife left to live on the greener side,
and I lost my house to the rising marsh tide;
then my Blues found me, like a deathbed bride.
I picked up my guitar, and I slid my fingers all along
those biting strings, those bracing frets, the song
that came to my fingers being of sadness and of wrong;
my voice like a bullfrog’s— deep, woeful, strong.
I sang about wealth and I sang about fame,
I sang about sin and I sang about shame.
I sang about forgiveness and I sang about blame,
I sang about everyone, never saying no name.
But nobody’d listen to me or my tune
‘cuz my grooves grieved like some sad-lulling loon
calling out from the lake, lonely beneath the moon,
and all because I wanted the Blues too soon.
So I went back to that Devil and to him I said,
“I don’t want the Blues no more, Dickie Red.”
And he answered with a shake of his slick ol’ head,
saying, “The Blues will last till you’re done dead.”
And now I got the Blues, for all they’re worth,
and I can’t feel no pleasure, or joy or mirth,
bidin’ my time, like a crab among the surf
while my days go on by, this sorrowing earth.
To nail wings onto Tiny Tim’s crutch
to make it look like a rocket
and to think you have done so much
to straighten his leg, socket to socket.
He will not fly to the moon,
nor will he run and play like other boys,
but you’ve created false hope which soon
crashes and burns and utterly destroys.
The conceit that senseless word salad
could somehow nowadays be deemed
a poem, the misnomer made valid
by a hashtag alone, not by what it seemed,
is not unlike the village idiot grinning
and thinking himself the new constable
because he had played at a carnival, winning
a plastic badge; it is demonstrable
of the times, of the mediocre standards
that preside like a village idiot over all,
commanding attention with bland words
and the clueless noise of a town-crier’s call
after he has drank a barrel’s worth of beer
and slurred, proudly, Pig Latin to many a deaf ear.