8: Blues Poem

One of the most popular forms of American poetry, the blues poem stems from the African American oral tradition and the musical tradition of the blues. A blues poem typically takes on themes such as struggle, despair, and sex. It often (but not necessarily) follows a form, in which a statement is made in the first line, a variation is given in the second line, and an ironic alternative is declared in the third line. – Poets.org

Broodhollow Blues

Well, selling encyclopedias was getting him down
Yes, selling those big Brittanicas was getting him down
Because no one’s buying
with a depression ‘round

So the letter from Broodhollow seemed like good news
So the letter from Broodhollow seemed like good news
That inheritance was
just the cure for his blues

But that town is more trouble than it seems
Oh, that town is more trouble than it seems
With bats and ghosts and ghouls
In and out of his dreams

Now his mind is going, he’s got to find the clues
Now his mind is going, he’s got to find the clues
Or he’ll be stuck forever
with those  Broodhollow blues

I struggled with this one because I just couldn’t think of anything to write about – my life is just not very bluesy (which is awesome for everything except trying to write the blues). I finally hit on writing about Zane, the main character in Kris Straub’s fantastic cosmic horror webcomic Broodhollow (it’s a wonderful mix of sweet, funny and horrifying and the art is gorgeous).

This was a tough one, too, because the tone is far outside of my usual wheelhouse. I think it came out fairly well considering but I wouldn’t try it again.

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3 thoughts on “8: Blues Poem

  1. I love this, I do not know the story or the comic but you tell a perfect story in a way that sounds like a song, and “Broodhollow” is the perfect name for a town in a blues poem. Full of o’s! I am so far behind you in forms but now I yearn to write a blues poem…

  2. Actually, choosing a topic was a really interesting exercise! It is surprisingly hard, and your choice makes even more sense to me now. Anything too particular, too personal or too serious, and it feels like the blues form is parodic, and makes light of deep feeling; but if you pick a lightweight topic (filling in tax forms, sitting through a meeting) you limit yourself to comic verse and this feels like a real misuse of the blues. But the passing of time, I can feel the right kind of deep sadness about this, and yet it isn’t something personal and particular to me, or even something really, actually, to be regretted. So, the passing of time blues:

    I miss my daughter, feels like I lost a child
    I miss my daughter, feels like I lost a child,
    She’s here beside me, right here at my side
    But her childhood’s over,
    Even though she never died.

    Sometimes I think of all the years ahead,
    See them coming, all those years ahead,
    Getting older’s all that I can do,
    Leaving behind me
    All I ever had.

    I’ve got to leave behind me all I ever had,
    Leave behind me all I ever had,
    Had a childhood, had a home,
    Had someone to call my own,
    Even all I still have makes me sad.

    I look at photos, all those times are gone.
    I look at photos, all those times are gone.
    All those people carried on,
    Left that moment far behind,
    Left that moment, let that time be gone.

    See them coming, all the years ahead,
    See them coming, all the years ahead,
    Getting older’s all that you can do,
    Leave that moment, let that time be gone,
    Leave behind you,
    all you ever had.
    Gotta leave behind you, all you ever had.

    • Wonderful! But also sad. It reminds me, actually, of the Philip K. Dick novel Counter Clock World where time is reversed. He does a wonderful job of imagining the ways that would be sad, too – a younger wife that a character knows he will lose to childhood soon. That book’s one of the things I go to feel better about aging – that and this creepy self-help book my mother had about avoiding wrinkles by training your face not to have expressions.

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