Charley-Patton-by-Robert-Crump-711x1024
Apollo’s serenade for the city
by Nathan Steinman

Apollo doing his fantastic Charley Patton,
dribbling out notes on a Braque guitar strung with muslin.
Bitter wind beats a hanging sign against steel
shaped like cardboard when you peel it.
Wind’s been at this the last two days.

Dressed all awards show
and elegantly grinning
Ella starts singing
into the only blue streetlight on 36th
All through the city her voice blushes asphalt orange.

“Baby, I’m not good at buildin’ altars
but, you’re a dream more real than a city
able to foil the robberies
Nightmare’s always tryin’ to commit.

This doesn’t have to be a tissue paper moon.
I want to ask you every brown and yellow question
scurryin’ among the starlight
reflectin’ in your bright hazel eyes.

Let’s stay warm,
oh, so warm,
And confess
yes, confess.
Let’s express
oh, express

Would you like to stay up one night?
We’ll pour some tough drinks in styrofoam cups.
Put a couple of records on
and keep that gossipin’ Cold outside.

We’ll watch the world do its thing
and talk ‘til we see the sun
hang itself back on that nail
shinin’ on this story we have spun.

We’ll transform
oh, transform.
Don’t distress
or transgress.
Let’s decompress,
oh, decompress.

Ridin’ on the moon swan
we’ll float down that plastic river
somethin’ we can pray for
somethin’ that will deliver
again and again.”

Streetlights start hushing down lights
Ella paces backwards in time with the fade.
Shadows take their places.
The wind falls off beat.
A muslin string breaks.

Apollo sighs as he gets up,
dusts off some of the tune from his suit,
puts the guitar against swirling brick.
cracking his knuckles
wandering off
humming another memory
aching to be strummed.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is from a mythology I started creating around an old bluesman version of Apollo.

IMAGE: “Charley Patton” by Robert Crumb.

Nathan Steinman-001

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nathan Steinman was born in Oklahoma in the 1980s. His father joined the military after the oil bust, and the family moved around to the government whims, then back to Oklahoma, where he started writing poetry at the age of 17. Now, 13 years later, still writing, he is married and has a degree in music education. He hopes to discover truth in the music of words.