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FEATURES --  So Many Roads, Poetry by George Kalamaras

                                                                                                            George Kalamaras


Buddy Guy’s Blues and the Discovery of Feedback



                  The hem of a woman’s skirt brushes an instant

against the strings of your guitar,


Buddy, propped on stage in the smoky break

between sets, yet live with wire.  Her note


hovers like a spaceship, knocks sound

resonance from the jukebox song out of itself, pouring


the buzz out as a bumble bee somewhere in the space

between idle axe and 45 wax.  You look up


across the room from your scotch, feel cubes

begin to loosen their hold, the dark amber


going more gold.  Some small bar in some

southern town in some still smoke.  This is not Chicago,


you realize, but your most moist

and intimate vowel.  You turn toward the feed


that rises from your amp, and a humming-

bird in your right ear draws perfect water in secret


pools from your tubes.  Photons melt and blur

your axe back to gardens of womb worlds.


The sacred fire to spark.  A fleck of jaguar

pacing combs the underbrush, caught an instant


as blood?  You’ve never before heard

such sound except in dream, prowling leaves


brushing tails across your path, warped

and bent with brambles.  You’ve never heard


a thorny rose in your mother’s step,

nor in the sexual drift of a stranger’s


hips which flair her skirt across an edge

of stage as she fills the silence between sets

with a fluid stroll for more.

A thread from this sudden walking


is not Louisiana but a hold

in your heart like a suture


of milk or hovering vowel, fierce

and full of mending.  This is it,


you think, the mantric bees, eternal hum,

hairline crack in the cosmic egg


that splits the night with reversed lightning.

The placement of food into mouths


of the dead.  Garlic cloves in left ears

of the deaf.  Well water from the camel’s hump


in pans beneath your mother’s bed.  Your skin dampens

with night-sweats, though you have never been more


awake leaning as you are against some bar

in some small town in some still smoking


sound that burns your brain like amber

ice going down to dissolve along the round length


of a candle.  The hum of the world,

you think, and all from the hem


of a woman’s skirt.  You want to hold

that buzz, become the moment in salt


just before it dissolves to sound,

moving your hammer after the break


back and forth against the amp in the attitude

of a watery weed that lifts the first song


in the second set out of itself into solution.

Your axe bends the blues back, Buddy,




past Delta damp to the world before.

Something not of this planet hovers


in perfect swallow.  Your winging riffs mouth vowels

that screech, then sleep, secret mantras


that spell dark Louisiana smoke to galactic gold,

to liquid bees, to first and final speech.

"Buddy Guy's Blues and the Discovery of Feedback" (Copyright 2009 George Kalamaras) was first published in River City: A Journal of Contemporary Culture, Volume 15:2, Summer 1995.
george-bootsySo Many Roads, is a blues poetry column by George Kalamaras. Award-winning poet George Kalamaras 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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