they countered life
with toneless, jagged
call and response
in sun-swollen fields.

W.C. Handy sold it
sheet music empire
and women named Bessie
breathed it first
in an age of jazz.

But also it soaked
in Mississippi jukes,
Texas cell-blocks
where Ledbetter twice
fretted freedom.

It could not save
poor Bob, hellhound
on his trail
. Whiskey
and strychnine
don’t mix.

They drank it on Beale St.
low lure of Lucille.
Sweet home Chicago
they sexed it up
with saxophone.

Glass on steel
sliding delta
"Dust my Broom"
for a new generation.

The better half of rock,
the soul of soul,
funk but a suckling,
forgotten uncle
of hip hop.

Modern masters
still find profit
in a people’s pain.
Nothing has changed;
it hurts me too.

Can’t beat fingerpicking
harmonica solos
or hold a bend
just south
of dissonance.

I remember
12 bar in the desert
time was shorter
in a full bend
we were sure.

It seems too simple
wonder that the titans
of Vienna could not
see the excruciating
pleasure of a raised fourth.

Slide into the one.
Sudden shock of the five.
and you’re home.

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