Mar 142012

by Michelle Lyle


The captain of words and riverboats

knew the mighty, muddy slash of the Mississippi

deserved more than just quaint ponderings.

He knew she was a strange lover lying

next to beggars and big cats

in the silt lined cradle of the Delta.


Down the Great River Road

came dark men with dark stories.


One man longed to play his hurt so well,

he sold his soul to the Devil at the corner of 61 & 49.


Mr. Johnson and his guitar kept heading east,

past flat and dusty White and black towns

getting sleepy under their Cotton blankets

as the sun set on memories of what used to be.

The railroad tracks told the Blues Man where he belonged-

on the far side of the Plantation’s wide cast shadow.


On down to where the boll meets the shack meets the river,

where old news covered the walls

and bad news covered the people like horsehair blankets.

A place where he could shake the devil loose for a while,

where his kith and kin would sweep sin from the stoop

with quiet determination and knowing glances,

so the Angels could come down and kiss their boy’s hands as he slept.

  2 Responses to “Mr. Johnson & Us”

  1. Beautiful. This painted so many stunning images in my head.

  2. Coming back to this to find your imagery, cadence and use of sound are mesmerizing.
    Really beautiful work.