Poetry by E. Shaun Russell

February 14th, 2008

Robert Johnson,

by Arthur Davis Broughton



The Crossroads



The Mississippi midnight sky was clear
As one determined man had journeyed far
With nothing but his clothes and a guitar,
To speak the incantation all men fear;
As legend goes, the Devil did appear,
And promised this young man he’d be a star–
That for his soul alone, his repertoire
Would be replayed a thousand times a year.
The pact was made; the Devil’s words rang true,
Though not as true as many might have thought,
For while the young man lived, the fame he sought
Eluded him, as such things often do;
He sold the thing that cannot be re-bought,
And never has a payment held such rue.






I saw him in a club in ’44,
A skinny kid, still clinging to his teens,
His role was small — he stayed behind the scenes,
But once he played, he left you wanting more;
Some notes would linger, some would swell and soar
And some notes would be smashed to smithereens,
But “Oh!” I thought, “This kid plays what he means!
For one as he, the best of life’s in store!”
The day he died, sheer millions came to mourn
The one who breathed the air into the cool,
The fuser of the blue, and bebop’s jewel;
No finer man has ever played the horn,
His legend lives, his name shall always rule–
The greatest jazz musician ever born.



E. Shaun Russell’s poetic work (primarily formal verse) has recently received an Honourable Mention in the Writers’ Digest annual writing competition, publication in a chapbook anthology of speculative poetry and recognition through Winning Writers. Russell has a passion for writing and music, and has had the fortune of playing and producing jazz and jazz-influenced music.


Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In This Issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 22 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Chris Potter, Sons of Kemet, Stephan Crump, Brittany Anjou, Julian Lage, Joey DeFrancesco and Antonio Sanchez


Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

The Joys of Jazz

In new podcasts, Bob Hecht tells three stories; one about Miles Davis’ use of space in his music, one on the mutual admiration society of Sinatra, Lady Day, and Lester Young, and the other about the train in jazz and blues music.

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art


“Thinking about Ida B. Wells” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #126

In 1964, along with the orchestra of arranger Lalo Schifrin (pictured), this flutist/alto sax player recorded one of the first “Jazz Masses,” and soon after studied transcendental meditation in India. He would eventually become well known as a composer of music for meditation. Who is he?

Great Encounters

Dexter Gordon tells the story of joining Louis Armstrong’s band in 1944, and how they enjoyed their intermission time.


In this edition of Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light,” photographs of Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk are featured.

Short Fiction

"Strings of Solace," a short story by Kimberly Parish Davis


Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Short Fiction

"And so we went to Paris," a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Coming Soon

National Book Award winning author for non-fiction Jeffrey Stewart is interviewed about his book The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

In the previous issue

The question “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?” was posed via email to a small number of prominent and diverse people, and the responses of Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who participated...Also, the publication of the winning story in our 50th Short Fiction contest; an interview with Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell; a collection of jazz poetry; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; the March edition of "On the Turntable," and lots more...Click here to be taken to the issue.

Contributing writers

Site Archive