it ain’t the blues (alternate version)
for john lee hooker
( August 22, 1917 – June 21, 2001)

in spite of stories told so well they become self-fulfilling,
don’t know nothin’ but tha dozens can explicate the blues, a rawboned articulation
chiseled by ten miles of bad road, perfumed silk & mannish steel
& that signature brim (against-the-grain perfect tilt) i said in my mind, trouble gon’ come someday
(a calculated outlawable) signifyin’ innovative & aim-to-misbehave bent askance
& conjurin’ up-country collard greens & sweet potato pies, cold chicken & hog maws,
unfiltered-Camel smokin’ blues-men igniting ecstasy & blue-black slingshot stone,
them 2 AM jook-joint blues, a stream of consciousness boogie that illuminates hard rock & a tight spot,

boom-boom boom-boom /gonna’ shoot ya’ right down

wading through deep, dark water into a mythical heaven ‘cross Jordan
painted redemption & recapitulation when the guaranteed dream is elusive
or less meaningful than the “blank-check” handshake, starvin’ for the Devil & floatin’ up with angels,
tethered hearts are released from orchestrated bondage to a place of amalgamation
where things are made & unmade & unimagined futures are born,
risen sons with emancipated tongues (lit from the inside by a reckoning)
a gravel-hoarse melancholy that hollers a Jubilee spread out sky the secret of absolute color
& constant dreamin’ of spiritual uplift & what lies ahead, beneath & behind,
constant chasin’ that devil music

‘cause a man got my woman, lonesome blues got me

cryin’ in my Johnnie Walker Red & Chuckie Booker palmerhousin’ ‘cross a sawdust floor,
feelin’ so good about feelin’ so bad, struttin’ like the rooster crow
like it had possession over Judgment day,
the blues exact a reckoning from the razor-edge of pain,
troubled desire & wicked irony that speaks woe & triumph straddling two worlds,
spent blood & Mississippi dirt ridin’ a two-string melody call & response,

don’t start me talkin’/‘cause i’ll tell everyth’ang i know

old scar & fresh scab, callous & kind at-The-Crossroads Delta harmony liftin’ sorrow to encounter
with the beautiful & the bright, from a mouthful of fire signifyin’ Hell or high water & twice as hot


Copyright © 2010 henry 7. reneau, jr


Poetry keeps me sane and continues to make me a firm believer in serendipity. I am also fond of Rottweilers and Ben & Jerry’s New York Super Fudge Chunk.