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Lay for the Day
16th August

1938: Robert Johnson dies in some Mississippi shack, probably poisoned by a jealous love-rival.
1977: Elvis Presley dies in his Tennessee mansion, poisoned by himself.
From the book of Praises:

28. Of Robert Johnson

In the musty ruck of blankets
would be a little hunger left
to sour your love-nests sooner
not later.

Satan sent them one at a time
with a note tucked into their drawers
saying, There’s ten thousand more
where she’s from.

Mississippi rolls and tumbles
the way that they did over you
and under. Arms bend like roads
in the moon.

Remember how you whimpered
to be forgiven when Mama
whipped you and Jesus didn’t
love you enough…

The glass neck slams down on the frets
and they twist their mamas’ dresses
higher up their legs. You take
to the wide road.

You knew the missions of lust
paid in dust, bust springs and stones.
The needle comes down in your
unmarked grave.

Robert child, the bare lightbulb
throws your small shadow on the floor,
but Mr Law’s horned gizmo’s thrown it
over time.

John Gibbens
from Collected Poems
(See also 8th January)
(See also Steady Rollin’ Man: a Revolutionary Critique of Robert Johnson)

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar