Thursday, September 30, 2010

Slidin’ Delta


It ain’t like we stopped tryin’ -
them bottlenecks still slide.
The delta just been dryin’ up
since Willie Dixon died.

R.L. Burnside - dead and gone,
him and Mississippi John.
Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim,
porkpies on magnolia limbs.

They’re sweepin’ up the barrelhouse
but Honeyboy’s still pickin’-
hangin’ notes up in the air
like Sunday’s fryin’ chicken.


The blues’ll find a stringer
with a story yet to tell
long as dust can find a crossroad
and a soul is left to sell.

Bo Diddley took the midnight train,
Memphis Minnie, Elmore James,
Blind Lemon too, and Magic Sam
fish and spoonbread, greens and jam.

They’re lockin’ up the juke joint
Pinetop Perkins still inside,
still bangin’ boogie woogie
jumpy as a blushin’ bride.


So I guess we keep on tryin’ -
it’s rainin’ hard outside.
Things just never been the same
since John Lee Hooker died.

8 comments:

Julie said...

Joaquin, I was JUST listening to Robert Johnson singing Crossroad Blues. I love that song, and he is amazing. You must have been sending your spirit to me. Stanza four just tickles me to death.

I love your poem. Love the blues. Your last stanza is so right on. John Lee Hooker was awesome. They all are.

I'm going to a blues concert on Oct. 8. It's free, too. If anybody is interested, google "Music Maker Relief Foundation." I'm going to post about them. They are the greatest. Dang! So excited! You can hear samples of music there, too. It's not all blues artists, but there are quite a few.

Thanks, Joaquin. Your poem sings, and it made my day.

Terresa said...

One of my closest friends loves the blues, he's been trying to convert me for years (I'm more into acoustic & 80s & shoegazing stuff).

All the same, I loved this poem, especially the stanza,

"Bo Diddley took the midnight train,
Memphis Minnie, Elmore James,
Blind Lemon too, and Magic Sam
fish and spoonbread, greens and jam."

Makes me wish I was more of a blues fan, I think I would appreciate it even more...you just might have made me a convert here with your poem. :)

Mairi said...

Hi Joaquin. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment.
Slidin' Delta just sings, as is only appropriate. I recently read a collection by Ben Lowenkron, called Preacher Blues - you can read a review of it here- http://tangerinetreepress.blogspot.com/2010/08/preachers-blues-by-ben-lowenkron.html - about the blues, the delta and the psychological space invoked by both. Your poem is more structured, more coherent, more closely related to the music you're writing about than Lowenkron's are, but you might find him interesting.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

This just bounds with energy. Great movement and sway... Love all the greats mentioned. I had to look up a couple of them..and had a great time doing it! Thanks!

This stanza is the gospel truth:

The blues’ll find a stringer
with a story yet to tell
long as dust can find a crossroad
and a soul is left to sell.

I admire - "porkpies on magnolia limbs." great line

Loved the prime cut - especially as the soft autumn rain patters on the roof - just outside my window!

Moanerplicity said...

This feels like an ol skool blues lyric, that kind sang on the banks of the Delta, barefooted w/ mud between your toes. Very evocative of a certain time, vibe & place... & it sings w/ such a rich history. Very digable write, my friend! HIGHLY digable!


One.

Karen said...

This does just sing! I have to admit that I'm not a blues fan, as hard as some of my friends have tried to convert me. I don't know why exactly, but I guess it's a good thing we aren't all alike. So, even though I certainly don't get all the references, I do get the emotion and the appreciation in this. I often think you must be a musician yourself, because your poetry sure does sing.

Sarah Hina said...

I don't know a lot about the blues, either, but this poem and Hooker's song make me want to remedy that fast. Amazing.

I love how your lamenting these giants' absence and almost eulogizing the art form, while simultaneously resuscitating and reenergizing it in your own soulful and musical style. As a stringer, you'll do just fine. :)

The same stanza Kay noted was my favorite too. Someone once said that sometimes there's more beauty in the blight. Maybe in the telling, there is.

joaquin carvel said...

julie - robert johnson - awesome! yep, must have been a vibe goin' on there. :) of course, not surprised you love the blues - just hope this did 'em some justice. thank you - just googled that concert, too - sounds incredible! wish i's gonna be in carolina this weekend.

terresa - well, they'll be waitin' if you ever come around. :) thank you - if it nudged you towards conversion (or even curiosity) that makes me happy. (might want to check out r.l. burnside's "wish i was in heaven sitting down" - real (badass) blues with a touch of shoegazing sensibility - esp. "hard time killing floor" & "bad luck city" - and "r.l.'s story" feels like a 6 minute ken burns movie.)

mairi - good to see you again! thank you - and thanks for the link. the review/conversation piqued my interest - i'm going to check him out.

k. - "movement and sway" - that's what it's all about! there are so many greats - and it seems there are always more to discover. thank you - and listening to jlh "as the soft autumn rain patters on the roof" - now i'm a little jealous. :)

lin - "on the banks of the Delta, barefooted w/ mud between your toes" - i think that's where all great blues come from. if this evoked that - i couldn't ask for more. thank you!

karen - you're right - it is good we're different. but it's been such an influence on music in general i think people do connect with the soul of it no matter what. thank you.

sarah - hooker is amazing. and if this makes you want to root around in the barrelhouse - my job is done. :) thank you.