plays calypso on his mouth harp, some blues,

and chords with wings, incidentals

beat a little, slap hands,

make good-natured argument in the still air.

Wrinkles rolled up like blinds,

you can’t see his eyes; he’s not blind

but he’d smile if you happened to think

otherwise, he likes the blues thing,

plays it up for whoever’s passing.

He’ll hang at some bar, drink warm beer,

make a talisman out of his pet glass.

He’ll wander out for sunset, stubble whitened

like sand, sit on the corner there,

pick out goosefreckling notes and play them slow

with his crumpled old mouth, his old breadboards of hands.




Something a little different. This is, as was pointed out to me a couple of times, a much warmer piece of writing than most of my stuff. I think it wouldn’t be inaccurate to apply the word ‘cold’ to many of my poems. I would go so far as to call many of them harsh, not meaning unkind or cynical, but casting a cold, clear, rather unforgiving light. It has its own kind of beauty, or at least I was aiming for that (somewhat erratically!). ‘The old guy’ relents a bit and looks at its subject a lot more sympathetically. I loved and still love blues music and the mythology and language it is steeped in, just can’t get enough of it, and this little portrait of a John Lee Hooker-ish guy (that’s him right there at the top) playing his harp and guitar is one of the surprisingly few poems I wrote about music.