For Stacey Abrams
There’s a chain gang on the highway
I can hear them rebels yell
And I know no one can sing the blues
Like Blind Willie McTell
Bob Dylan, “Blind Willie McTell”
Back in my wilder days of manic
Boppa-bop-a-bebop – PAR-DEE,
I’ll admit I got arrested a couple of times,
blinded by them PO-lice lights
swirling and stuttering blue
in the nightscape like a UFO landing.
I’ve survived slope driving in suburban Atlanta,
not looking both ways before crossing streets,
trafficking in whatever to make ends meet,
have tossed and turned a couple of nights in jail,
which amounted ultimately to next to nothing,
except for experience to cross reference and relate.
I once told my late wife’s oncologist,
“Doc, I guess you’ve never spent a night in the clink.”
His blank stare a tacit no-he-hadn’t.
“But that’s what it’s like in the middle of the night,
when you’re waiting for the biopsy
to drop the next day.”
Experience to cross reference and relate.
Nowadays the Boppa-bop-a-Bebop – PAR-DEE,
rarely sparks in my nervous system circuitry –
except it actually did yesterday –
when James Brown’s Georgia,
when Otis’s Redding’s Georgia,
when Little Richard’s Georgia,
when Ray Charles’s Georgia,
when Ma Rainey’s Georgia turned a very light shade of blue.
Blind Willie McTell himself
Had limped past the President.
So I stepped outside on the deck,
took in a deep breath,
opened my mouth,
and scat-bellowed at the top of my lungs into the wild blue yonder:
Geetchie geetchie yappa yappa – woo!