Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Old poem, New Version.

I'm pretty sure that this is the final version. Took me forever to find the right ending.

(For Robert Johnson, after Wallace Stevens)


The man [hat cocked] picked at his guitar,
A traveling-man of sorts. The day was yellow.

They said, "You got a [beat up] blues guitar,
Can you play things colored as they are?"

The man replied [cigarette dangling], "Thangs
as they are, Is colored different on a blues guitar."

And they said to him [Bible-eyed], "But play, you must,
A tune outside of you, but of yourself,

The [Gospel] truth on your blues guitar,
Of things colored as they are."


I can’t paint a picture quite square,
Although I stroke it with much care.

I don’t sing a man's shined shoes, gold tooth
or new suit, but his eternal soul,

I eye him as well I can and conjure
Him up with my mojo hand.

When I pluck him up, moody as the moon
Not sunlit like things as some say they are,

It’s a serrated howl traveling through
these fingers what pick a blues guitar.


A tune colored (as we are),
Yet somehow blued by the [moaning] guitar;

Ourselves [softly] humming as if in tune,
Yet nothing changed, except the place

Of things as they are and the notes
As he bent them on the blues guitar,

Played just so, the chords of change,
Heard in a damned juke-joint;

For an eternity damned, the way
The howl of hellhounds sound where

Even the hand of god is haze.
The tune stops time. The blues [thusly plucked]

Become the crux of things as they are,
The crossroads at midnight on a guitar.


Are the [Hellhound] blues his?
His devil of a delta guitar

Fills the [smoky] juke-joint with dancing women
In thrall with the moon. The yellow-eyed men

Of the women are now [dark] blue, and coming
For his [middle-parted] head that never lies

Alone at night. He picks a string of dilemmas.
Can he change the tune as it is? And how,

As he fingers his frets, can he
Escape that note which echoes

unlike an [eternal] resolution and yet,
Must be. Could the Blues be anything else?