Sunday, April 01, 2007

On Memphis Minnie

This poem and art disappeared for awhile from the old Radio Weblog site. Found it and thought I'd repeat it over here. Tagging it [new feature on this blog] with 'blues.' Most go back and do a lot of that. When I wrote it, it was snowing in Boston, and my flight to Orlando LotusSphere had been bumped one day. WHRB was in the intercession where it plays artists in lengthy [day-long, week-long, etc] sets.

On Memphis Minnie

I was on the sofa and outside it snowed
Getting ready to go to Florida.

They were playin Memphis Minnie on the radio
Just Memphis Minnie hour upon hour

And I started writing down what I heard
And observed

Her train done been here and gone
Look what you get...she says
Look what you gettin

Gettin for a lousy dime.
Splash!...the high hat says in turn

Ya gotta think
about it

I'm gonna strut my stuff...she replies
Always calling...calling

Calling the Ice Man
Warning ...
But friendly...

Calling the Butcher and of course the Chauffer
Taking misterioso up from the country.

Taking it for a drive

Encountering the Night Watchman
As it’s the time for him
To punch his clock.


The chamber ensemble responding
But boy can
Play guitar

Piano playing pure hokum
Odd for blues cause vaudeville
Died ...
But it lives on the side in her Victrola lines.

She suggests ...
Minnie ...
that you go down in the alley

Implores in fact ... you
to quote-unquote
Get your business fixed;
Down in the

Some people take a blues yknow
And she's right on here ...
Go jump off a bridge and drown ...
Not the blues singer. Not Minnie. She looked up and
down the river

But Minnie's mind never took her to jump
Overboard and drown.

Take it Charlie I think she said
but it could have been Joe
Joe McCoy
take it - at least when I'm looking at you -
says she
choreographing the blues
painting a view
muddy river and
big boat

That's the Minnie thing
painting and waiting
waiting for the iceman
strutting here stuff
eye on the big boat
singing a blues
as she is waiting
that's what she do

Wondering in the SouthSide as now too
- a kazoo plays -
where is that Butcher Man who can
slice your ham?
Slice your ham
and cut it from the bone on down?

She dont have to wait for
the Butcher
but she must go
to the market

As she often told her
to take it to the bridge

One night Minnie
take a Strange Man home.

He left her
And she wonders
where can her Strange Man be?

For that matter,
Where is her Rooster?

Too many eggs in her basket she note –
Yet, as wolf noted too
that rooster been gone.

We asked Slim about Minnie
I'll tell you a story, says he.
Memphis Joe, Yank Rachell and them playing cards
And Minnie comes home from work.
Takes off her falsies, takes out her dentures
Unstraps her wooden leg
Throws all of that in the bureau draw

You turning in with me?
She asks Joe.
I dont know. He says.
Don’t know whether to jump in the bed or the bureau.

Was a big night for Minnie once
when her daddy took her to a show.
How poor but how happy but
Then - yknow - he was

And with midnight train in mind -
She must ask - what road is he on?
She looks out at the whole damn dark world

World that has so many roads
And she asked the questions we would ask
If we weren’t just watching
The snow

Minnie finally asks
To RCA man - Melrose? -
Recording the blues
Can we have a clarinet in this?

And what is Big Bill saying
to Blind John in the corner?
The answer questioning comes
Get paid in ones!

Breaking ice.
Humming a blues
in Chicago.

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