In Red's Juke Joint in Clarksdale
by Norbert Krapf
In Red's juke joint they play the blues
after the sun don't shine. The notes
they play are blue but the ones plugged in
on the wall glow red and the beer bottles
Red sells from behind the bar are cold and brown.
A small river flows behind the old building
and in front stands a cut barrel in which meat smokes.
Between the river and the smoke the blues cook
all night long and the beer flows as slow and long
as the river don't stop. People come to sit
on bar stools and chairs and listen to the blues
nights the way they come to sit in pews in church
Sunday mornings and in Red's and in the church
the music is about the same though some people
say the music in the juke joint comes from the Devil
and in church it comes from God. My ears tell me
the music in Red's is the call and response of the Devil
and God talkin' together and the people listen
the same whether the smoke comes from a candle
or meat and all the singing sounds sacred.
About the poet: Former Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf's most recent poetry collection is Catholic Boy Blues, which was followed by the related prose memoir Shrinking the Monster, winner of an Illumination Book Award and finalist for an INDIES Award. Forthcoming is a collection of poems about his grandson (almost three), Cheerios in Tuscany. Norbert co-facilitates a workshop with Liza Hyatt, Bless This Mess: Writing About Difficult Relationships. For more, see www.krapfpoetry.co