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Poems About the Blues

King of the Blues
by Sandra Bounds

From Memphis to Vicksburg,
the blues percolate from sweat-soaked soil
of the Mississippi Delta
and hover like mist along its river.
Many sing the blues,
but B. B. King does it best.

He caresses Lucille,
coaxes from her strings
ecstatic moan of “Three O’clock Blues,”
and “Everyday I Have the Blues.”
Together they wail that
“It’s a Mean World.”
They groan about “Blue Shadows”
of “The Worried Life in “The Jungle’
and lament lost love in “My Sometimes Baby,”
“Gonna Miss You Around Here”
cause it’s  “Partin Time.”

After decades of making music,
perhaps for B.B. and Lucille
“The Thrill Is Gone,”
but fans still like to ”Let the Good Times Roll.”
With sweetness and power,
the blues style of B. B. King
universally dominates.
Long live the “King of the Blues.”

Sandra Bounds was born in Mississippi and lives in Macon. She has a Master of Arts in English and has taught in both high school and community college. An active member of the Mississippi Poetry Society, she was its 2005 Poet of the Year and has been published in Art Gulf Coast, The Lyric, The Road Not Taken, Sharing, The Well-Tempered Sonnet and Westward Quarterly. Readers may remember her from her past poems Mississippi Speaks and A Little Piece of Home

 

Robert Johnson
by William Miller

It wasn’t the devil
who taught him to play
guitar, sing the blues
in a graveyard of broken
headstones, weedy grass.

It was an old black man,
a sharecropper who
owned one pair
of faded overalls,
a six-string brown box.

And he chose this place
to pick and moan
for the cool night air,
the silence no wife
or child disturbed.

Robert followed him
there one moonless
night, heard the music
from the dirt road
he often walked alone.

And he asked for
the secret, the dark magic
that bent the strings
just so, a sound sad
as working in the fields.

The old man laughed,
said he’d teach him
all he knew about
chords and picking,
his graveyard tricks.

But there was no
secret to the blues,
every black man
sang them in the cane
or a bad, all-night juke.

He didn’t know he
was a singer just a man
who suffered in his bones,
the tune the same,
the words his own.

William Miller is an Alabama native who lives and writes poetry in the French Quarter. He’s the author of five collections of  poetry, 12 books for children and a mystery novel, all set in the Deep South. His poems have been published by The Southern Review, The South Carolina Review, Prairie Schooner and Shenandoah. We published his poem Hearse for Sale last October. 

 

Clarksdale, Mississippi
by Erren Kelly

i was expecting a train
to appear out of
nowhere
like in that monkees song
but no luck
if jesus walked
along these roads
he’d carry a six-string
like a gunslinger
moanin’ about his woman
“done did him wrong ”
but robert johnson
did that
then eric clapton
came along and co-oped
the sound if not the feeling of the
blues
it reminds me
of a story i read once, after a show
jimi, played like
he was possessed by
an otherworldly force
finished his gig
then walked over to eric
and nonchalantly
asked him to tune his guitar

before i die
i will learn how to
play guitar
i don’t know if i’ll ever be as good as jimi
or even eric

but if robert johnson
smiles on me
it’s cool

Erren Kelly is a poet based in Chicago by way of Louisiana. He received his bachelor’s in English and Creative Writing from Louisiana State University and has been writing for 21 years. He has been published in Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine and “In Our Own Words,” a Generation X poetry anthology. 

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6 COMMENTS
  • Margaret Nichols / April 4, 2013

    A trio of fine writing about our blues heritage. It would be hard to decide which blue man I would pick for my favorite, but I think it is meant to be “King of the Blues” that best takes me back to the origin of blues here in our hallowed state of Mississippi. Sandra Bounds work bounds forward gets my vote as winner of the written word in this array of verse.

  • Becky Syfrett / April 4, 2013

    Sandra’s poem was outstanding ,it captured the blues in poetry 🙂

  • Michele Hudnall / April 11, 2013

    Another fond memory from my Aunt and a namesake relative, Margaret.

  • Callie Ross / April 18, 2013

    Another great poem by Mrs. Sandra Bounds! So proud to say that she taught me.

  • [email protected] / August 17, 2013

    I wish I’d known about *Deep South* and this special section in particular, having worked for fifteen years on a collection titled *Rain in Our Door: Duets with Robert Johnson*; but if you’d like to see some of the poems within its pages, please stop by my website’s *Ars Poetica* section—http://www.diannblakely.com/newupdate/arspoetica.html—and read a poem or two!

  • Mary Jo franklin / November 26, 2013

    I love this poem! Wonderfully descriptive, skillfully written, Mississippi’s own BB King and his sweet blues literally come alive for the reader! Bravo!!

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