after Elmore James ‘The Sky is Crying’
Wild Rufus played sax in the Duke of York
jamming with Deano in the old tap room.
Mostly twelve bars: Muddy Waters, Son House,
Elmore James – I believe I’ll dust my broom.
I snuck in late with my underage mates
trying our best to look bigger and older.
The bar was full of fairytale giants –
the biker landlord: a B.S.A. ogre.
The mind-swirling stink of Black Moroccan,
wet wool, leather, British motorbike grease,
the sense that trouble was a curse away –
a punch up, a blade, the threat of police.
The crowd moved knowingly, Rufus sat down
to play solo in the eye of the bar.
Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain…
Without a mic, he bellowed a cappella
before blasting wildly through the changes.
He had leaves in his hair and some thin guy
said he lived in a van on the common
and once cut a record with Humble Pie.
Everyone cheered when he finished his turn.
He grinned – teeth like chips from a broken hoof –
shook his big head, shambled up to the bar,
as Deano and the boys resumed their groove.
The landlord called lock-in but I slid away
singing blues to the rhythm of my feet.
Half way home Elmore’s sky started to cry –
Oh, look at the tears rolling down the street.
Devon based poet and musician Marc Woodward’s most recent collections are A Fright of Jays (Maquette Press), Hide Songs (Green Bottle Press) and The Tin Lodes (co-written with Andy Brown – Indigo Dreams Publishing). www.marcwoodwardpoetry.