Apr/May 2021  •   Poetry  •   Special Feature

Going to Memphis

by Bob Bradshaw

Artwork by Art AI Gallery

Artwork by Art AI Gallery

Going to Memphis

After hearing Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf
on the radio, how could I find solace

listening to trills and crickets
in the evenings?

The urge to make music
was as irrepressible

as a fiddle at a dance—or a spring
deep in the woods, where few

took notice. Church held me
with its harmonies. But my savior

was my uncle, who passed me
down a guitar, as beat up

as my daddy's pickup. I banged
out songs as fervently as any

rainmaker in a drought.
Singers passed through our farm town

from mysterious places like Chicago
and Baltimore. Blues and Country Western

put a jump in my pulse. Talk
of sharecropping or working

the mill didn't last long.
Carl, Elvis, Earl and Robert Johnson

schooled me in rhythm, teaching me
what all true musicians know:

Music should be like good whisky,
smooth but raw, and leave

a burning in your gut
for more.