Walking Blues: Duet with Robert Johnson #31

by Diann Blakely

Just go ahead and leave me here, leave me
With half-coiled rattlesnakes and stiff mesquite

Whose water-lust will steal till all you have
Is gone, till you swear up and down you’ll leave

O even if you have to ride the blinds,
Those spaces between cars where cold iron grinds

To couple and uncouple. Miss Bunny Ears?
But this is what girls do: we live I shivers

You’ll desert us. We need those Elgin moves
From our heads down to our toes; we need to prove

We can break in on a dollar anywhere
Then, skin-prickling dawns, to search your trousers,

Steal even your shoes for smallest change,
Especially in places where it never rains,

Where frigid light shocks both our big brown eyes:
O cataracts, mine side-effects. Too shy

For sand-sharp wind that takes such liberties,
Please take me back to sweet humidity

Away from where I’ve learned to memorize
New terms for hurt—bullae, bleb, fibrosis

And wonder if we both came here to breathe.
Some family went back too, debts past their knees,

But why won’t all these fragments fit together,
My kinfolk less diaspora-ed than yours?

O let’s go east for Christmas with your discs—
Take one to every red-hot love you list

Between here and Greenwood. That’s a bad name,
Bad juju, and you’ve got some months left to shame

Those who said you played the devil’s tunes,
The girls who wouldn’t take you home past noon,

Those who left you with the worst ol’ feelin’
You ’most ever had. We’ll come back when months reel

To June, to Dallas. My forebear broke down
And lost his son to suicide just now,

Or close, on calendars. We’ve got the blues

In our genes, baby—mine just revenge, your true.

Published on June 7, 2010