Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

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Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:03 am

Tallulah, Louisiana,
endless fields
with baby-
elephant-ear
tobacco leaves,
hanging shreds
of cotton
and tangerines.

I knock
on a paint-peeled door;
shuffling, rustlings

inside the shotgun shack.
A white-haired man,
pipe, dark glasses,
cracks open the door.

Sorry to bother you,
they tol’ me
further down
you’re a guitar player
tol’ me
you make the box talk.
I got one here,
you wanna
give it a workout?


What you drinkin?


What’s your pleasure?


I won’t say no to gin.

Done.
I’ll be right back.


………………………………

Lucille’s laying out
on the rumpled bed,
reed-thin,
in a thin flower-print,
blue and white dress,
face down, still.
Blind Son
holds my Martin,
tunes to open,
takes a Prince Albert can
off a shelf,
slides it up and down
the strings.
They whine and cry.

Shor do lahk this gitah.

He speaks gently
to Lucille, wakes her
from half-sleep,
asks her to sing
“one ‘a the ol’ ones.”
She rolls over
on her back
and in barely audible voice
born in honky-tonks
and roadhouses,
she sets time dancing
in booze delirium .

Soft tones,
melisma
jazzed into spaces
between pain
and wonder,
joy and betrayal,
floating memories
of dance halls
and protective,
mean,
boyfriends.

Lying there,
she introduces me
to a blues-land cyclone
people carry all week,
released every Saturday night
from dusk to daylight;
doin’ tha Cakewalk,
tha Shimmy, Swingout,
tha Buzzard Lope.
Slingin’ barbecue,
gamblers’ cards
on the table,
whiskey an’ homebrew
flowin.’

She sings time
into enduring,
generous strokes
of celebration,
joy borne out of
brutal history.
Her ancestors move
ghostly limbs
in languorous gestures
of survival.

I’m quiet
as she turns back over.
I’ve lost words
for what I’ve heard.

I summon up:

Lucille, I hope
you’re feelin’ better
soon.


“Better awready, son”

I leave the guitar behind.


(original)
Tallulah, Louisiana,
fields endless
with baby elephant-ear
tobacco leaves,
hanging shreds
of cotton
and tangerines.

I knock
on a paint-peeled door;
shuffling, rustlings inside
the shotgun shack.
A white-haired man,
pipe, dark glasses,
cracks open the door.

Sorry to bother you,
they tol’ me
further down
you’re a guitar player
tol’ me
you make the box talk.
I got one here,
you wanna
give it a workout?


What you drinkin?

What’s your pleasure?


I won’t say no to gin.


Done.
I’ll be right back.


………………………………

Lucille’s laying out
on the rumpled bed,
reed-thin,
in a thin flower-print,
blue and white dress,
face down, still.
Blind Son
holds my Martin,
tunes to open,
takes a Prince Albert can
off a shelf,
slides it up and down
the strings.
They whine and cry
like Robert Johnson’s
when the devil
tuned it
at the crossroads,
Highway 8 and 1.

Shor do lahk this gitah.

He speaks gently
to Lucille, wakes her
from half-sleep,
asks her
to sing one ‘a
the ol’ ones.
She rolls over
on her back
and in barely audible voice
born in honky-tonks
and roadhouses,
she sets time dancing
in booze delirium .

Soft,
Billie Holiday tones,
woman’s blues,
jazzed into spaces
between pain
and wonder,
joy and betrayal,
floating memories
of dance halls
and protective,
mean,
boyfriends.

Lying there,
she introduces me
to a blues-land cyclone
people carry all week,
released
every Saturday night
from dusk
to daylight;
doin’ tha Cakewalk,
tha Shimmy, Swingout,
tha Buzzard Lope.
Slingin’ barbecue,
gamblers’ cards
on the table,
whiskey
and homebrew
flowin.’

She sings time
into enduring,
generous strokes
of celebration,
joy borne out of
brutal history.
Her ancestors move
ghostly limbs
in languorous gestures
of survival.

I’m quiet
as she turns back over.
I’ve lost words
for what I’ve heard.

I summon up:

Lucille, I hope
you’re feelin’ better
soon.


“Better awready, son”

I leave the guitar behind.


I didn't know where to put this - if it belongs in another thread of its own - fine.
It's related to the first post here.

https://soundcloud.com/rc-james-user841 ... z0000496-2

Mance's Dance

Sweet Mary’s done quit the fields,
her big brown eyes up on the sky,
‘cause tonight’s a Satady dance
music all night by Mista’ Mance.

When he pick that gitah,
Make you tap your foot,
Just can’t keep your body still.
don’t get up, your partner will.

He make the box talk,
he can play all night,
play clean like whiskey pour,
then play, play some more.

Got the Cakewalk, the Shimmy,
the swingout, the Buzzard Lope.
gonna play ‘em all, play ‘em right
until you straight out feel the light.

Elnora’s servin’ her choice barbecue,
Gamblers’ cards are on the table.
Whiskey and the homebrew’s flowin’.
Gonna reap just what you’re sowin’.

Dance the night to mornin’
dance mornin’ into noon,
dance all inside your sleep,
freedom, your soul will keep.

Play all night,
play til mornin’
shut the door,
play some more.

Angel Child dancin’ by herself
To that ol’ Alabama Jubilee.
Papa Joe getting’ round on his toes,
Willie say, hand me down my clothes.

Look down, look down that lonesome road,
We’re all on the way to Silver City now,
Oh, Lord, Oh my Lord what shall I do?*_
Just tap your foot an’ it’ll come to you.

Play all night,
play til mornin’
play til your fingers’ sore
then play, play some more.

*Lines from songs by Mance Lipscomb.
Last edited by RCJames on Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:30 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Fri Feb 23, 2018 10:08 am

Tallulah, Louisiana,
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby JJWilliamson » Sat Feb 24, 2018 8:49 am

An absorbing piece, RC, and one I couldn't take my eyes off. The mood and sense of place are palpable as you deliver that southern style.
I can almost hear the blues ringing/twanging out. Have you turned this one into a song yet? Parts of it are very rhythmical and lyrical.

Enjoyed

Best

JJ
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:14 pm

JJ - Thanks - this was one of the stand-out experiences of my young life, I was on my way to Texas to learn some blues. I met another blues player in East Texas, Mance Lipscomb, who became my mentor. I became his unofficial roadie, carrying his equipment and driving him to his gigs; he was in his early 80's at the time and starting to fail physically. I wrote a song about him, the refrain in "Lucille..." comes from this song, called "Mance's Dance." I'd include it here but don't know the guidelines here well enough to know if that would be kosher. Let me know, if you would. Thanks for the kind words - RC
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby Antcliff » Sat Feb 24, 2018 1:33 pm

Greetings, RC

Enjoyed it. Not heard any Mance Lipscomb in years. Nice you knew him. Nice memory to have.

On the poem, I found my mind was straying because of the shortness of the lines that kept imposing breaks in the flow that had little to with the sense. Imho, the poem (as a reading experience) would gain from trying to accomodate the sense in the line breaks. Or at least a bit more.

e.g. why are you breaking at the ear?

Tallulah, Louisiana,
fields endless
with baby elephant-ear tobacco leaves,
hanging shreds of cotton and tangerines.

The poem does contain some very well known references...the crossroads, Lucille. I hesitate to use the word "cliche", but, well, you know what I mean. I can't help but think the poem would seem fresher of RJ-Devil-Crossroads section got the axe.

Do we need to be told that Billie Holiday sang "Woman's blues"?..suspect the reader can get their under their own steam.


Best wishes,
Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Sat Feb 24, 2018 2:39 pm

Antcliff - Thanks for your input - I've gone back and forth on line length - but as you so rightly point out, it's the breaks that are causing havoc and confusion. I will tend to it.
Appreciate your pointing out the cliche moments - easily fixed. - RC
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby David » Sat Feb 24, 2018 7:06 pm

I agree with Seth about the line lengths and the more hackneyed images, RC - also not sure what the etiquette is in the US of A on the representation of dialect in the written word - but there's much to like here. And I'd like to see it when you've mussed it up a bit.

Very impressive backstory as well.

I hate to ask whether white men can write poems about the blues, but the thought did occur to me. Maybe I'm assuming things all wrong.

Cheers

David
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Sat Feb 24, 2018 10:29 pm

David -
"I hate to ask whether white men can write poems about the blues"

My take on that, after more than 50 years of studying, following, playing, and learning more about the blues everyday, is color boundaries are dropping by the wayside as we progress into a shared environment - Everybody gets the "blue devils" as you Brits named them long ago - Ask any Afro-American bluesman whether he/she thinks white boyz can play the blues, 9 times out of ten they'll start talking about Charlie Musslewhite, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, J.J. Cale, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Elvis - in his blues phases - even country guys like Merle Haggard or Townes Van Zandt - there's a post-modern fraternity of musicians in which color doesn't matter - if you've got the chops, you can stand and play onstage with anybody. Most blues players, no mattter what race, are generous and muy amable folks. - RC

Oops - I just realized I skirted your question about whether white folks can write poems about the blues. Yes.
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Sat Feb 24, 2018 11:59 pm

Doesn't come close to scanning.
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby JJWilliamson » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:50 am

I hate to be drawn into this sort of nonsense, but honestly, Ft, there really is no need for this kind of ad hominem attack.
I, for one, do not agree with Ft's sentiments, RC. Keep it up, Sir.

Best

JJ

PS Apologies to mod's

J
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby Firebird » Sun Feb 25, 2018 9:37 am

RC, just to let you know, I really enjoyed this poem. I was going to wait until I had some useful to say in the way of a crit before I made a comment, but as FT is being unfair again I thought I’d let you know now how I feel about your poem. Lots to savour here. Great subject matter and the poem reads really well. I’m with Seth on a few of the more hackneyed images. But I’m sure you can easily deal with these. I’ll be back when I have more to say.

Cheers,

Tristan
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:06 am

Thanks JJ and Tristan - You come to expect it on the boards - doesn't make it any less tiresome - RC
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby Macavity » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:02 pm

Wow you met Lipscomb! Loved the music by the way, the growl is in there, the whiskey is pouring. Some of the notes you hit triggered a thought of that other Texas great - Sam Hopkins.

best

Mac
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:28 pm

mac - I saw Lightnin' at a club in Austin - musta been '73 or thereabouts - He was onstage - about 2 in the morning - and there were 6 glasses of whiskey put in front of him by fans - After his set - he ignored the whiskey and took a seat in an armchair - two nubile girls took a seat on either arm - his gold teeth glowed, man - RC
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Re: Lucille, Blind Son, Deep Blues, and an Empty Tobacco Can

Postby RCJames » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:32 pm

veild physical threats

If you want to get your point across, make sure you at least get the spelling right -
I don't do physical violence - I shine it on and tongue-kiss the attacker - that usually does the trick - So good to hear from you again - RC
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