Literature » Poetry

“Rainy Afternoon in Kigali (with the Blues)” — a poem by Michael L. Newell

 

 
 

RAINY AFTERNOON IN KIGALI (WITH THE BLUES)

 

The wind blew all afternoon,
blue my mood, moody the blues
on the box, bleak and blue when
Robert Johnson took over the airwaves;
the wind blew louder and then
Paul Butterfield’s mouth harp grew louder
and bluer than even my mood of desolation
which mirrored the sky darkening

outside my open window, rain
blowing in, thunder rumbling; then
Jerry Garcia re-inventing the guitar
blue and heartbreaking and new
and old and wild and timeless,
as are the hills of Kigali outside
drenched in downpour, lightning,
and drumming on roofs near and far;

ah blessed the weather, blessed
the blues, blessed all music of
passionate restraint which knows
the beat beat beat of hearts all through
a poverty stricken hard-working
city with a bloody history of death
seeking redemption day by day;
and the rain is raving, and so are

Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton
playing a wild jazzy New Orleans blues
mourning rejoicing dancing weeping–
it is all life life life, and so is the rain
reminding one and all from where
we came (that rocking cradle of Whitman’s).
When silence falls, I am at peace.
Soon the night, soon a welcoming silence.

 

                              Kigali, Rwanda, January 4, 2013

 

 
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Michael L. Newell, an expatriate English/Theatre teacher for twenty years, retired to the south-central Oregon coast in 2014.  Among his published works are Traveling without Compass or Map (Bellowing Ark Press, 2006), A Long Time Traveling (Four-Sep Publications, 2004), Seeking Shelter (Four-Sep Publications, 2004), and A Stranger to the Land (Garden Street Press, 1997).  He has loved jazz for over fifty years.