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April 2016, vol 12 no 1

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J. Todd Hawkins

First Blues


I remember my first blues. I was only about five or so. It was at night, of course. Or more like morning, a few hours before dawn. It was that hour when no one up is up to any good. Or least that’s what I’d hear later from Mama and Preacher. My bedroom window was open, it being July or June maybe. The crickets and the sirens and the laughter at the discount tobacco store around the corner. But it was the throwing of the bolt in my front door that woke me. It was Pokey Harris. Mom’s boyfriend at the time, leaving for the night to go home.

As he stepped out, crossed the porch, he sang. A deep, smoky, quiet blues. But loud enough, he hoped, to keep haints away till he could cross the creek. It rose, sharper and clearer the further he walked. And then, it was vanished. I knew he had made the bridge. And then I earned my blues.

sound of glass
on the sidewalk
not breaking, breaking


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