Peckerwood Whiskey

The grand old master drank peckerwood whiskey between sets that night
although the men who made it
working men, good enough men in their own right
would have called him by that name
not his given name, McKinley Morganfield
nor his stage name, Muddy Waters, but that ugly name that
would have made his mother wince
would have made his father turn away.

Yes, Muddy Waters drank, then wiped his chin
sat the quart of Ten High back on the table and
grinned at the woman with him
there in the little room behind the bandstand and said
something I couldn’t hear from where I sat on the floor,
toward the front of the audience.

We all paid two or three dollars to hear some blues and
to pass joints and cheap wine
which was OK in the little Chicago hippie restaurant
that night so soon after we had tenderly carried home
our beaten revolution.

Even the Chicago cops had eased up.

Just as his hard-driving songs moved us
his calm, sad face soothed us and consoled our grief
at having lost before most of us even realized it wasn’t play,
challenging the criminals in our government.

Well Muddy Waters drank that peckerwood whiskey and
he carried his guitar back out on the stand
to play some more blues for us, and
to smile on us like a loving father
who foresees continuing vicissitudes in store for his children,
but faithful in strength they don’t yet know they have,
sends them right ahead on,
into the world.

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