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September 18, 2023

Wind in the Willow

By Julian O. Long

Wind in the Willow

I cannot err
There is no creature
Whom I belong to,
Whom I could wrong.
     -- W. H. Auden, “Hymn to St. Cecilia”

Big easy has Bourbon Street
and the world’s best Mardi Gras
but blues might rather be in Memphis
or Chicago with Johnny Shines
and Rock ’n Roll was born
in East Saint Louis, or at least
Chuck Berry claimed it was.

Across the river now there’s a Duck Room
in his honor at Blueberry Hill
and an eight-foot bronze duckwalks his Gibson
down Delmar to a concrete park. Blueberry
Hill’s proprietor, Joe Edwards
(plus U City and the feds)
built a trolley nobody takes
from the history museum on DeBaliviere
up the loop to Edwards’ place of business
on the mistaken theory tourists might like
to catch a ride there where the Father of Rock
played a show a week for years.

Bi-State Development continues
to operate the trolley, a scheme
hatched locally to keep its local owners
from having to return the feds’ grant money
and we’re hearing they’ve applied
for yet another grant.

But now that Berry’s gone to his reward
and Johnnie B’ Goode’s keyboards draw
no more angels down (though the two
of them reconciled after Johnnie sued
and played together again from time to time)

perhaps now they convalesce
on shores of their oblivion, each
surprised to find the other, each

wearing his tribulation
like a rose.

Article © Julian O. Long. All rights reserved.
Published on 2022-09-26
Image(s) are public domain.
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