Soul Song

by Dr. Emory D. Jones

Curling mists rising from sloughs in a land table flat,
only a few thickets where the water stands full of cottonmouths;
bull frogs and mosquitos rest from night serenade
and sun climbs to mid-day heat.

Dilapidated frame store stands,
gray-brown on the outside against Orange Crush signs,
dark behind the screen doors that bang gently when you enter—
glass cases full of jawbreakers and case knives
squat behind humming red Coke boxes;
earth fragrance clings like a lover
around cooler of Blue Ribbons and Jax.

Folks troop to the fields frothed with white to the horizon—
Mississippi white gold mined with sweat on sticky afternoons—
waiting for the sun to kiss the River.

Guitar sings soul in roadside juke joints,
harmonica wails pain away—
blues ooze, cake walk out of doors—
strings sings under callused finger-tips of Son;
Muddy wails waters of tears
in a Rainey night in Greenville,
as eternal as the flow of the River to the Gulf.

Late afternoons can still find lazy streams lined with people
stretching poles over holes
tempting mud-cats with bloodbait and doughballs.

It’s the forever land undulating in black
beneath your feet that gives it soul,
flavors it with tears.

And the blue notes still rising from bottle neck slides
glide out into a night as rich as black earth
waiting for another sun.


Dr. Emory D. Jones is a retired English teacher who has taught in Cherokee Vocational High School in Cherokee, Alabama, Northeast Alabama State Junior College, Snead State Junior College and Northeast Mississippi Community College. He joined the Mississippi Poetry Society Inc. in 1981 and has served as president. He has more than 235 publishing credits, including publications in such journals as Voices International, The White Rock Review, Free Xpressions Magazine, The Storyteller, Modern Poetry Quarterly Review, Gravel, Pasques Petals, The Pink Chameleon, and Encore: Journal of the NFSPS. He is retired and lives in Iuka, Mississippi, with his wife, Glenda. He has two daughters and four grandchildren.

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