Old Men Sing The Delta Blues: Two Songs

“Blues is not a dream. Blues is truth.”

—Brownie McGhee

Soul Down and Mashed

My daddy used
to do it,
my uncle too.

Sing the blues
in that dark way:
slow beat to throat

moving like a ghost,
a woman riding night,
a man right beside;

soul down and mashed,
muddy waters
touching more than

is a face to tell. A light
touch sparks that
metal chord,

an ear awakens, hears –
a jackdaw’s screech,
clear and crisp: stops

and listens to this old
man on the bayou sing
and play the delta blues insane.

Knowing and Doing

We lived down
the bayou
back in the big green,

where there ain’t
nothing good
but a few ole coons,

a hound
or two; but let
me tell you, there’s something

in there
like no other place:
a people

with a certain
raging –
a desperation,

a dark
and heavy, a living
that comes

from knowing and doing,
saying and believing
something people shouldn’t –

a sense of something old
and cold and true
that comes through them bone fingers in the blues.

Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

16 thoughts on “Old Men Sing The Delta Blues: Two Songs

  1. Reblogged this on Teacher as Transformer and commented:
    I listened to the Blues early in life and developed a love for the blues in its many forms. I saw Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker in concert very early and they were thrilling experiences. Willie Dixon was supposed to have said that the Blues is the roots and the rest is the fruits. I find the Blues embedded in much of the music I listen to today.


  2. I still love the blues and saw many blues performers in my youth!!!! Very familiar with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, saw them several times and Muddy Waters, and so many others. I remember seeing a very young Bonnie Raitt as she started out learning the blues from the Masters!


    • Yep, a few of us old timer’s around to member aspects of those days, if only through the eyes of our elders and from later innovators. At 62 I member listening to my people growing up in Biloxi, Mississippi till we headed west to Odessa for the oil boom… another world altogether. Yet, the weave between the blues and country would come together there in Odessa, Texas as well… place I first heard Buddy Holly and Orbison, Willie, Hank, and others who shaded into those zones… the other essay after this one on James Sallis brings in a few of these early blues singers… the main character of his five crime novels in New Orleans with Lew Griffith hinge on that world of blues… I like to listen now online to these old recordings… at least they’ve tried to preserve that heritage…


  3. Howdydoodie! Craig. Love the words and your gritty dark imagination. The ‘Blue Devil’ piece and ‘Delta Blues Two Songs’ are my favourites. I’ve always had this obsession with blues characters like ‘Leadbelly’ and Robert Johnson’. Their beautiful records are etched into my soul.
    Thanx for your comments on our craetivefreeflow blog Craig. It’s always special to me when someone takes the time out to say afew words, (good, bad or ugly?) Whatever! Eh!


    • No problem… haha, true dark ecologies was a philosophical and meditative blog when I first started a few years back, but have moved on to my first love in poetry, crime fiction, and epic fantasy.


  4. Such an amusing & beautiful poem! It almost sounds like Mother Goose rhyme for grown-ups to listen to. For example “a jackdaw’s screech, / clear and crisp: stops” – if I try to understand exactly what this means, I may be at sea, but I enjoy its rhythm tremendously. I wish I could hear this poem set to music…how delightful it may sound…Thanks for giving me great pleasure of reading such a wonderful poem.


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