The Bluegrass Blues

Click the grey arrow above for sound.

 

Banjos make me blue.  There’s

pain in that frenetic pickin’

fueled by moonshine and misfortune,

 

pain that goes all the way back to Ireland,

black potatoes and fickle lasses,

the death of lovers or worse.

 

Fiddling can get downright dolorous, too,

that high lonesome keening,

the breakneck pace

 

the manic flipside of poverty.

Saturday night

shouting on the hills of glory

 

but returning to the shack

to find the chickens dead

and Pretty Polly’s tearstained letter.

***

Picture Shelley plucking a banjo,

Shelley in one of those silk

two-toned cowboy shirts

 

singing through his nose

about how the saddest songs

end up being the sweetest,

 

a fiddle taking up the strain,

a quick, pained grin to the audience

as he nods his head to the music.

shelley other view