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FEATURES -- So Many Roads, poetry by George Kalamaras

The Bluest Blues


for Alvin Lee, 1944 – 2013


Alvin Lee peace guitar


It happens that quickly.  The bluest blues.

Sometimes it’s a knife-cut, something horribly wrong growing inside the one we love.


It’s rarely as dramatic as a house burning.  Or mistakenly drinking a glass of bedside lye.

You’re gone, Alvin.  A decade older than my fifty-six years.


Let me be clear: I could never have survived age thirteen without you.

Nor sixteen.  Eighteen.  Even twenty-five.  Let me count the scars.


My thirteen years then were simple.  The Temptations and the Supremes.

Are You Experienced?  Rubber Soul.  Disraeli Gears.


Then you sang, “I Can’t Keep from Crying, Sometimes,” and suddenly neither could I.

Why is it we are born in certain centuries into one another’s lives?

Alvin Lee color


We never met, but like the night possum, we track one another’s marsupial past.

We never met, but paramecia on the wrist remind us of ways we knew before we poured

     into the body’s pouch.


We never met, but I see your barn studio collapse that day from the gutters, from the rain.

Never met.  A sign, that even while recording On the Road to Freedom, liberation was

     never easy.


George & Alvin

Your dear friend, George Harrison, was fortunate, having not yet arrived from next door.

Stevie Winwood and Mylon LeFevre were outside, discussing a take, smoking a joint.


What if you’d been inside, recording a track?  What if George had lent his fame to the lp,

     rather than the credit, Hari Georgeson?

What if I’d never heard Cricklewood Green?  Spent night after night head-phoned to

     “50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain”?


We wake some mornings with blistering snow in the gut, saying yes and no at once.

We go in for a routine procedure, telling the one we love what we want later for dinner.


Small things.  Large.  We assume there is time to love the mice.  Brush the dog.

Walk the daughter’s hair.  That we might finally get it right.


Spend our lives with a Gibson hollow-body 335, peace sign decal pasted onto the axe.

Keeping ourselves that open is what allows us to receive.  Roaring riffs from the gods.


The bluest blues.  Your scorching fingers, at Woodstock, I wished the world had never


Clouded—crowds gathered, thereafter, in stadiums for only the lightning part of you.

Alvin Lee


Now you have drifted sadly back to ash.

It happens that quickly.  Something horribly blue gone suddenly wrong.


I was thirteen, Alvin.  Now I’m fifty-six.

A life together we never met.


The stutter-shove of a guitar god is true.

The blue blue bluest of the blues.



Some of the author's favorite Alvin Lee songs:

The Bluest Blues:

 I Can't Keep from Crying Sometimes:

 50,000 Miles Beneath My Brain:

 So Sad:

 I Woke Up This Morning:

Standing at the Station:

This poem is simultaneously appearing on The Longhouse Birdhouse.  Gratitude to publishers Bob and Susan Arnold:
So Many Roads, is a blues poetry column by George Kalamaras.  The award-winning poet was born on the South Side of Chicago and grew up listening to the blues--beginning with Ray Charles...(read bio)

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