Blues #1: Ray Charles

Down from the heat lightning of purple summer
coming off a telephone pole, hitting the
roadhouse like a stickup, falling off the deep end
of the bass clef in the troubled tones of
of R&B of Ray Charles [You give your hand to me]
the 200 song Wurlitzer sprung up like some
faith healing Frankenstein [And then you say “Hello”]
punching my little boy belly with notes that landed
with heavy thumbs on my lungs [And I can hardly speak]
as factory men, just ash by day whirl away under
the blue electric Budweiser light, singing out loud
pa-pa-ooma-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow to
the bar girls wrestling on the tops of parked cars
[My heart is beating so] and the bartender
tossing his white towel high above the bourbon bottles,
telling a joke that ends: “trigger the nigger!” and I am dancing
with Elvis Presley legs at the bar stool feet of my
mother [And anyone can tell] next to her, Harry “the House”, not
even looking up from his shot glass says “you got a problem?”
and the saw dust smelling floor and the whisky varnished wood
[You think you know me well] and I wanted F8,
play F8 or C16, and I saw everything that I knew
in the deep bass breath of that jukebox and everything I’d
ever know [Well, you don't know me]. Ray? If you were there
I’d lend you my eyes and if you shared your needle, I’d give
you my arm and if we could walk together one time
we could keep these floors from disappearing and we would
laugh and you would say, if songs could talk, they’d probably sing.

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