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B-Flat Blues
Phebe Davidson

When Dr. Bone sits down to play,
it’s sometime after three.                                                       
The floor is empty except for dust.
There’s nothing left to see.
He settles his hands on the keyboard.
His fingers are long and black.
He leans a little and bends his head,
conjuring something back.
The upright is old and tired.
The ivory mostly gone.
The little left is cracked and thin,
yellow and smooth as stone.
They took the front off years ago,
hammered tacks in the felt.
Barrelhouse. Honky tonk. Blues & Rag.
Out back the cardplayers dealt
their hands, counted their money, quit.
He fingers a bass line easy and low.
His right hand blues a note. He doesn’t
remember his baby’s name, wonders
                                    Where did it go?
When Doctor Bone sits down to play
The moonlight passes by. 
Mamie dances and shows her legs.
He doesn’t know when or why.
Somebody’s husband pulls a knife.
It doesn’t matter now.
One man cuts. Another bleeds.
All of it part of the show.
Dr. Bone has beautiful teeth.
His collar is worn and white.
Dust on the dance floor shimmies and swirls.
Day runs close to night.
The door hangs loose on its hinges.
Dr. Bone rides a line.
Nobody comes and nobody goes.
The blues rise sweet and fine.
Blues is a twelve bar number.
The room hums like a hive.
The barkeep pours from a mason jar.
The juke is coming alive.
Dr. Bone knows the limit,
when to play the tag.
Five chord down to the tonic.
Slip your coins in the bag.
His hands splay out on a final chord.
The sky is shivering bright
Dr. Bone nods and shoots his cuffs,
evaporates into the light.
This poem first appeared in Town Creek Poetry.
Used here with the author’s permission.

Phebe Davidson is the author of 23 published collections of poems. A retired English professor, she thinks of herself as a recovering academic. Still up to her neck in poems, she is the founding editor of Palanquin Press, a contributing editor for Tar River Poetry, and a staff writer for The Asheville Poetry Review. She also serves on the Board of Governors for the South Carolina Academy of Authors. Her poems and essays appear in print journals and on the web. She lives in Westminster, SC with her husband Steve and their cat Fripp.

Post New Comment:
Posted 05/26/2012 05:44 PM
You have to admire the rhythm and rhyme in this poem, just like the blues, and the passage of time.
Posted 05/26/2012 02:05 PM
Wonderful! We can see it all. This poem is crying to be set to music. Phyllis
Posted 05/26/2012 12:41 PM
Excellent poem. The urban dictionary offers the following definition of 'shoots his cuffs': A male preening gesture, whereby a man wearing a suit extends both his arms rapidly outwards (i.e. shoot), so that his dress shirt sleeves extend nicely beyond his suit sleeves.
Posted 05/26/2012 07:09 AM

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