Mourning the Death Ray Charles, but Thinking, Actually, of Blind Willie Johnson By Samuel Prestridge

Mourning the Death Ray Charles, but Thinking, Actually, of Blind Willie Johnson

Sadder than Ray’s first night in the ground,
the knuckle bones of dead men, the archive of their sounds,
their ways of saying lost and waiting to be found.

The honeyed slide guitar, the frayed voice, graveyard bound,
growling gospel and a hard rain falling down.
Sadder than Ray’s first night in the ground,

his “Dark Was the Night” and “The Soul of a Man.” No sound
this side of “I Got a Woman, Way Cross Town”
like “Nobody’s Fault but Mine.”  However found--

--stoner cousin’s vinyl or hippie shops downtown--
the day is darkly lucky when I hung around
(sadder than Ray’s first night in the ground)

to hear his howling ne plus ultra, to propound
blue moves for doing something like, snuffling to hound
his ways of saying lost and waiting to be found.

Since then, not much to tell.  Protracted rounds,
fine whiskey cut with ditch water.  A shrug.  A slipping down.
Sadder than Ray’s first night in the ground,
confusing getting lost with waiting to be found.

Samuel Prestridge, a post-aspirational man, lives and works in Athens, GA. His poems, essays, and articles have been published variously, and his first volume of poetry A Dog’s Job of Work is currently seeking publication.

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