Michael Shepherd (8.4.1929 / Marton, Lancashire)
0011 Those white and future blues - to Chet
Under the ring of linked brown arms,
bare feet, brown feet with whiter soles
drum on the dusty, hard brown earth, stomp the rhythm
as if to wake the gods of earth
to draw the rain down to the roots,
caressing seeds against the growing time,
hearing the tears at the heart of things;
hearing the shuffle-clank
of leg irons listening for some rhythm that consoles
with promise; hearing the blues sung softly, like a prayer,
taken up across the cotton field,
sadness meeting hope in longing patience
and a century ago
the white lady who loved Africa said,
I am weary with the future
white boy, you’re so young –
how could you hear the blues so well?
are they just around the corner
of every town that’s built, as dusk descends?
Do they lurk wherever lips meet plangent trumpet,
in the reeds of mourning clarinet,
the nostalgia of a dreaming saxophone?
Wherever future whispers to the past
and hears the sad reply?
white boy, white boy without a past,
you hear the blues so well,
I think you hear
those future blues,
those old white future blues,
those lonesome future blues.
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