Robert L. Johnson. Born 1911. Died: 1938.

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In old Mississippi a Baptist Church
called Little Zion, silently perched
like a lone knight or a sentinel,
guards music’s Holy Grail.
For there, buried under a walnut tree,
are a Delta King’s lost angel wings,
robbed from him by a legend created
by ignorant fools driven mad the man made it.
They claimed it was done for women and wine
by a meek little mouse who could barely keep time
until he showed up in a juke joint one day
whipped out his guitar and started to play
the opening bars to Crossroad Blues
and silenced the patron’s hissing and boos
if just for one moment. So what does it take
to stand out from all the rest of the fakes
and phonies and frauds, so smug and so droll?
All it takes is the cost of your soul.

No big deal. It just gets put on a shelf.

But what does that mean? Many claim to know.
You can read it in books or watch it in shows
or hear it during mass or words with your friends
about ends and beginnings … beginnings and ends.
But really, we’re clueless about life and death.
When the body is gone, just what is left?
A soul or a mind? Is it unstuck in time?
A train off its rails with no way to find
a door or a tunnel to safely pass through?
So then, in the meantime, what does one do?
How does one pass the time it is given?
Does it give up and die or get busy living?
Does it strive to be better and do what it loves
or weep for the past and curse those above
it for putting it down in the place it belongs,
where black can be white and right can be wrong?
I’ve been told we live in a world of illusion.
I believe I’ve come to a fitting conclusion:

Mr. Johnson loved music more than himself.

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