(“R. L.” Burnside, November 23, 1926 — September 1, 2005)


and Robert Lee

he smiled teeth that day

in the garden gloom

captured on camera

a really really living lion

yet a peaceful beast

(for the moment

at least)


played electric blues number

he called ”jumper

on the line”

with magician fingers


hypnosis spell

over steel strings

like charcoal-dark dragonflies

skimming across a muddy pond


and he could become angry man

Old Testament angry

like any man

O he did

he even shot a man!

aimed his pistol

careful and whispery

from behind

his enemy’s


throbbing ear

and that doomed soul

fell forward

hitherto well-housed brains

set free


dead as a hollow bee-hive tree

and Robert Lee

he knowed

sure as rust follows rain

it had to be



half year

in a concrete jail

then Burnside was outside


back again

in the shade

in his shack

shake-shake snake fingers

cookin’ steam and rhythm

in a cauldron

for a house

full o’ hungry babies

in deep-green South



Brett Davidson

Giacometti Chapel, Rhine River

April 11, 2014


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