Lay for the Day 8th
the Singing Brakeman, the Blue Yodeller, the Father of Country Music was
born on this day in Meridian, Mississippi.
TB took him off the railroad
And with a voice that was ferrous
And frail as the light striking bowed
And unending telegraph wires
And as straightforward as their code
He fell on his feet on the way
To singing stardom. High-fliers,
Hillbillies, hoboes heard him say:
Its death in my
chest throws my voice
Out on the air like a night bird
And death on his knees throwing dice
In a box-car with life I heard
As he shook out five and a deuce
Saying that roll won him my soul.
And the whistle wailed a blue third
Like a dog at the moons dry bowl.
When the little red
His crest, its jelly roll to blame,
Cause my heart jumps right through their hoops
And if its another mans name
She wears, you rounders mind your coops
And Ill cock-a-doodle on mine.
The sun cant show his face for shame
When I get up to crow and shine.
Weve got no cause
to fuss and fight
In the broadest land that God carved.
You go straight on and Ill turn right:
Fare-thee-well is a trouble halved.
And when you spot me in the light
At the dark end of wicked Beale
Im two-thirds drunk and still half-starved,
So drop a dime on me, big wheel.
The porch of my Texan
Is long as a station platform,
Wide enough to hold a dance on,
Swept clean like a college girls dorm,
And I sit with shades advancing
Looking out from my brakemans cap
At the end of an evening storm
With my wife and guitar on my lap.
Dont haul me with
six white horses
To lay me down under the yews.
Up on the hill like old Moses
Ill settle and render my dues.
The valleys and watercourses,
Groves and vineyards there it all lies.
Though I die in harness, my eyes
Saw the Blue Yodellers Paradise.
Another record, another
Buck. Set me up a folding cot.
With luck Ill save you the bother
Of doctor and priest. All Ive got
To do, like a good wee cougher,
Is close my lids and rock and sing
Myself to sleep. Another shot
Of rye. Fade out the country king.
He left his epitaph written
Around scattered slabs of shellac,
Perishable as his smitten
Flesh, solid as his worth, bright-black
As his humour, his wit and grin.
Two thumbs raised in one photograph,
He vanished like smoke from the stack,
Short-lived, with a last crying laugh.
Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar