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Escape of The Bluesman's Song Premiere Contest Winner

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Within the frame a sepia scene a dusty porch a rickety chair the fabric of your dusky face creased with ceaseless sunbaked woes your old pair of getaway feet gives a different walk of life to an old pair of thrown-away shoes two sizes too big and as full of holes as the harmonica you hold – you remember.. your backbone the plow driven through gadfly soil swarmed with eyes and stingers and mouthparts sucking marrow paleface morality two-faced in your person-dignity pillage losing wishbone-breakage in body-breaking tillage for a crop you have no share in.. except for expanding crops of pain implanted by plowers a harrowed pulse flows through chambers both metal and mortal embouchure’s grip with cracked lips vibrate raspy reeds to bleed smudgy notes smooched lament the air-split whip sizzle-snaps of the leather snake a shoulders to buttocks sharp-fanged strafe cotton gin justice for overseer’s chafe wicked braille welts read of tactual factual brutality; the wrench of your wretched chattel-life you remember.. the humid cling of cold-sweat fretting furrows of bondage-resistant brows it pours briny from tiny tormenting pores beads bee-sting your bull’s-eye pupils held hostage in a wide-eyed canvas of angst glazing your skin the shade of a chestnut’s roasted coat in December – the swelter of escape in the shelter of swamps your manful heart flexed - a daring passenger on the move; railroad underground but over ground and undercover a night-sky-water-dipper sipper on a quest to quench freedom’s thirst with an ethereal map choired across cotton fields’ roiled yoke and tobacco fields’ toiled choke and hymned in the cramp of black quarters smoky whiffs and chuffing riffs churn slick yet sick with sulks they slide the track blues mood slurs vibrato’s bravado blurs plantation friction railway diction distant tidewater pain pushes into your mind’s marsh; transition-zone from slave man to free man and like the Chesapeake both a womb and a tomb you remember her song of sorrow.. your west African grandmother her spirit one with the ancient salt and sand of the Windward shore and her heart as heavy as the hull’s belly-gorge of flesh and blood cargo; wishing for the seawater in her veins to drown her – her ghost croons to your inner-child still upon her knee the rise of kinfolk spirituals saturate to weep harmonica’s southern drawl quavers with primal plaintive pleas of breathing possessions kidnapped from a land of gold and tusks - her people your people! stacked like ebony planks in seasick holds to build inhumane wealth; bought beaten sold beaten traded beaten slave babies born in the Old South beaten by the shackles of ramshackle shacks! harp’s intimate groan; worried worn wearied notes cupped in your hands ripped by the pick of cotton cradled to a mouth with lips of a fullness your hungry slave boy’s belly never knew you don’t want to remember but you do.. memories collect like nesting sparrows beneath eaves your bluesman’s soul overflows as you breathe a wavy whine in slow solo anguished airstream’s inhale flare of iron-horse exhale .. a train whistle’s approach from auction block past; auctioneer’s leer as the gavel slams down! a screaking child peeled off a shrieking mother’s skirts like the skin stripped off a dead rabbit – streams of her screams run a gully in your gut ever deeper mournful melody laid out and laid down stewed in the still of your lifeblood the mash of sad and mad moves in and out of your heart-grooves with a whiskey’s burn then settles like a wraith of wrath and faith in the dried wheel-ruts outside your door f r e e to wander beyond the old age of your stoop laden with a dazed load of a million misery moans and the haunt of iron chains as heavy as the branding irons’ hot Susan Ashley October 7, 2021 ~ First Place~ Premiere Contest: Your Personal Favorite, NO. 2 Sponsor: L Milton Hankins Poet’s note: this poem was inspired by the instrumentation of “Sweet Black Angel”; Rolling Stones; 1972 album Exile on Main Street; written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It is my humble attempt to pay homage to the vanquished in their victory of escape from slavery through the Underground Railroad and to raise awareness to the inhumane injustices and agonies inflicted upon the enslaved innocents. This is the first of a pair of poems to explore this theme. The other “Antebellum Blues” will be posted at a later date. Image: Railway path; photo by Bagi Borbala *embouchure: the way a player applies the mouth to the mouthpiece of a harmonica *passenger: an escaped slave traveling through the Underground Railroad *harp: informal name for harmonica

Copyright © | Year Posted 2021




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Date: 12/15/2021 5:41:00 PM
What a wonderful railway poem. great imagery. Looking back through older poems from before I was here. Thanks for sharing this wonderful poem, Susan Smiles ~ Blessings Bill
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Susan Ashley
Date: 12/16/2021 2:30:00 PM
Dear Bill, I truly appreciate your read of one of my older poems. This poem, in particular, means so much to me, as does your wonderful visit and heartwarming comments. Thank you for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. I relish your presence here, indeed, my heart smiles. Warmest wishes, my friend.. ~Susan
Date: 11/20/2021 7:21:00 PM
This is as beautiful as the sounds of a strung golden harp. So detailed and brilliantly written as usual. You are one of the queen bees my dear friend. Your level of poetry blows me away every time I read your thoughts. Congratulations on your well deserved win...warmest wishes dear friend. Happy Thanksgiving. Love & blessings and warmest wishes...Charlie
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/21/2021 6:16:00 PM
Ah, dearest Charlie, the poetic beauty of your comments takes my breath away. Thank you for experiencing the emotions of this poem with me. I am both humbled and inspired by your precious thoughts and heartwarming congrats. Sending you a cornucopia full of warmest wishes, season's blessings, love and hugs. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, my wonderful friend.. ~Susan
Date: 11/15/2021 11:40:00 AM
Congrats Susan on a wonderful write, and the honor of a win, fully deserved. I'm in awe of your brilliant writing, and one day hope to aspire to your level. Sorry I haven't been around lately, not feeling up to writing lately. I had to give up on the song idea of merging your poem into song, it is too daunting of a task for me right now.
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/21/2021 6:09:00 PM
Dearest John, I am filled with gratitude to receive your precious thoughts and heartwarming congrats. I am both humbled and inspired by your warm words. I truly understand about not being around PS lately and not feeling up to writing.. (I've had my challenges this year with both as well..) and it's ok to step away, though you have been missed. I understand about not feeling up to merging my poem into a song, it does seem like a huge undertaking, but my agreement with you to do so in the future, if and when you feel up to it, still stands. I hope you're okay, my friend. Sending you a cornucopia full of warmest wishes and hugs.. ~Susan
Date: 11/6/2021 8:28:00 AM
Stunning. A tour de force. Thanks for sharing..................peace!
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/6/2021 6:07:00 PM
My dear friend, Richard, it is such a pleasure to see you. Thank you, for your cherished comments and for sharing in this poem with me. You and your amazing poetry are truly appreciated. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 11/2/2021 8:15:00 PM
Wow! A beautiful epic write, Susan. A fav. I am glad I got to read this.
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/3/2021 5:58:00 PM
Dear Eve, I cherish your response to my poem. Thank you for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me and for the wonderful honor of your fav. Your presence here is truly appreciated, my friend. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 11/2/2021 1:28:00 PM
My dearest Rhyme Time friend congratulations on your placement of #1 poem of best new poems with this deserving masterpiece reminding us of the work of the Underground Railway in a time of shame. This is an important work! It is just plain awesome and inspires me to new levels! Sending you blessings of comfort and joy!
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/3/2021 5:55:00 PM
My dearest Rhyme Time friend, I truly relish your thoughtful return visit and heartwarming congrats. Your gracious golden presence is cherished, you are as uplifting and endearing as your poetry is vibrant and inspiring. How fortunate am I to call you, friend? I would say, extremely fortunate, indeed! :) Thank you, my sweet friend. Sending you a cornucopia of warmest wishes and hugs.. ~Susan
Date: 10/31/2021 1:20:00 PM
Congratulations on your deserving trophy Susan! I wish I could fave it again. Congratulations also on having this gem at the top of the Best new poems list so it receives its deserving exposure. Happy Halloween my friend. Blessings xxoo
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/2/2021 9:49:00 AM
My dearest Connie, it is so wonderful to have your golden presence grace my poem once again. I am elated and relieved to know you are feeling better. Thank you for your heartwarming double congrats, they are twice as nice! :) You inspire me greatly, my sweet friend. Warmest wishes and hugs to you.. ~Susan
Date: 10/31/2021 7:17:00 AM
Back again to congratulate you my friend on your trophy win. No wonder your masterful write shines as #1 on the best poem list. BIG congrats on that honor as well, Susan.
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/2/2021 10:16:00 AM
Vijay, your wonderful return visit and heartwarming double congrats are deeply appreciated, as is your inspiring friendship. Thank you for your lovely and thoughtful kindness, dear poet. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/27/2021 2:36:00 PM
Dear Susan, this is simply epic. A virtual encyclopedia of man's inhumanity to man and so vivid and visceral in depicting the history that forges the bluesman's soulful tune. Your mastery of language is so grippingly evident in this sad tale, with your breathtaking word pairings and phrasing ('for a crop you have no share in', 'primal plaintive pleas', and 'settles like a wraith of wrath, to name just three. This was a well-deserved trophy winner, and a worthy spot at the top of the best new poems list, my dear friend! Enjoy those honors with my heartfelt congratulations and a standing ovation FAVE. Blessings ~ John
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Susan Ashley
Date: 11/2/2021 10:11:00 AM
My dearest PS PB, where do I begin to express my immense gratitude for your willingness to take the hard plunge into man's inhumanity to man with me. Thank you for sharing in the poignant, harsh, visceral emotions of this poem, John. Your striking and eloquent comments are deep and rich and fill me with thankfulness for your friendship and for the beauty of your empathy. I am elated to receive your meaningful comments and I relish your appreciative artistic nature, your heartfelt congrats, and the honor of your fav. I am deeply moved and bow with humility to your ovation, my inspiring friend. Warmest wishes and hugs.. ~Sisan
Date: 10/25/2021 7:39:00 PM
An emotional write of the Bluesman's plight Susan. Well done, well said, congratulations on your win in the contest… Belle
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/26/2021 8:02:00 AM
Dear Belle, I cherish your response to my poem and your heartwarming congrats. Both are truly appreciated. Thank you for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/23/2021 8:56:00 AM
Such raw emotion in every line. Ugliness and pain described so vividly, beautifully. The pain of the body and the ache of the heart are felt by the reader. Truly awesome, Susan. Congratulations on you top win.
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/23/2021 8:52:00 PM
Dear Sandra, I relish your compassionate response to my poem and I am moved by your heartfelt thoughts. Thank you for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. To know that I have touched your heart is truly special. Both your gracious visit and lovely congrats are appreciated. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/21/2021 2:56:00 PM
Susan, this is inspired work. Moving throughout. Among the many moving passages, this one is hauntingly brilliant: "... her spirit one with the ancient salt and sand of the Windward shore and her heart as heavy a the hull’s belly-gorge of flesh and blood cargo ..." Awesome. ~Eric
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/23/2021 9:34:00 AM
Dear Eric, thank you for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. You are a gifted and magnificent poet and your wonderful presence here is truly appreciated. I am deeply moved by the generous and thoughtful beauty of your comments. Warmest wishes, my friend.. ~Susan
Date: 10/20/2021 11:08:00 PM
I's a long and beautiful work rich in all aspects. Congratulations!
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/23/2021 8:16:00 AM
Thank you, Christuraj, for your inspiring comments and heartwarming congrats. Your wonderful presence is uplifting. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/20/2021 10:03:00 AM
a poetic masterpiece for sure, an epic poem indeed, no wonder it achieved a trophy win, many congrats:-) hugs Jan xx
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/23/2021 8:35:00 AM
Dear Jan, I am truly honored and humbled by your generous words and heartwarming congrats. Your poetic artistry and creativity is held in my highest esteem (yes even your poetic poop artistry.. hehe!) as your humorous clever pen is as awesome as your sensitive emotional one. Thank you, for your inspiring comments. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 4:06:00 PM
This is like reading a heart instead of a page - it penetrates, cutting away all the shallow and wading into the depths - the seas - of need - This is brilliant! It thunders! It screams and sighs and cries. It reads at a pace that is only given to the poem that is so graceful and glorious it falls on the mind like sunshine or rain... This is truly glorious! God bless you always dear friend. Love, Gina
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/23/2021 9:00:00 AM
My dearest Regina, I wish I could 'fav' this comment, for it is truly glorious! You are a spectacular poetess, whose gifted golden pen shines in the poetry of these sumptuous words. I am truly moved, and both honored and humbled by the generosity and inspiring beauty of your comments. Thank you for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. Your compassionate heart sparkles like light on water, and it is deeply appreciated. Warmest wishes, love and hugs, my lovely friend.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 1:59:00 PM
Susan, Wow! Congratulations on your well deserved win~you've created a brilliant and masterful story.... Blessings, Paulette
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/23/2021 8:37:00 AM
Dear Paulette, your beautiful comments and heartwarming congrats are held in my deepest appreciation. Thank you, my friend, for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 11:43:00 AM
My dear Rhyme Time friend I sit here in absolute awe of this poetic masterpiece - your poetic brilliance on full display. Oh to be able to write like this sweet friend. It is inspiring - a place of excellence to aspire to in writing! Congratulations on your win. It is indeed a humbling honor to share the podium with such greatness! Sending you blessings on wings of freedom and peace. I applaud you and count myself blessed to be called friend.
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/23/2021 8:46:00 AM
My dearest Rhyme Time friend, it is I who now sits in awe of the shining beauty radiating from your compassionate heart. I am truly both honored and humbled by the generosity of your comments. You are such a magnificent poetess, Sam, and I am thrilled to receive your amazing thoughts and heartwarming congrats. Thank you for taking this emotional journey with me. Your comments are jewels I treasure. I am as happy to know how my words moved you as I am delighted by how your words moved me.. which is very deeply. I count myself blessed to be called friend, as well. Warmest wishes, love and hugs sent on soothing breezes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 11:16:00 AM
WOW!!! Congratulations on your win. What a creative story/write and picture. Your pen was working overtime on this one. Have a blessed autumn day................
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/21/2021 6:24:00 PM
Dear Paula, I relish your wonderful visit and kind congrats. Thank you for sharing your lovely thoughts with me. Warmest wishes, my friend.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 10:09:00 AM
I'm so glad you entered this poetic masterpiece, Dear Friend, Dear Poet, for me... this poem stands alone from all the poetry I have read on this site, congratulations on first place, this poem deserves applause...which makes me happy to call you friend...
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/21/2021 6:20:00 PM
Dear Poet and my Dear Friend, your return visit is cherished, as is the warmth of your generous words. I am humbled, Frederic, to read your words, so grand a poet you are, so grand a compassionate heart you have. Thank you! It is indeed a great honor to receive your inspiring comments and kind congrats.. and it makes me truly happy to call you friend, too... Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 8:29:00 AM
Oh, that is so raw and beautiful, Susan. Your words brought tears. Congratulations on your first place win!
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/21/2021 6:11:00 PM
Dear Ann, thank for sharing your precious thoughts with me and for sharing in the emotions of this poem. Your warm congrats are held in my deepest gratitude. Indeed, families were heartlessly torn apart.. so horrendously cruel, as was every other aspect of bondage suffered by the enslaved. How one can enslave another is beyond me. Warmest wishes, my friend.. ~Susan
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Ann Peck
Date: 10/19/2021 8:37:00 AM
Also, Susan, the fact that families were ripped apart - worse than animals were treated - needed to be told. Such a sad, sad story of our inhumane history.
Date: 10/19/2021 6:44:00 AM
Your words ooze atmosphere. I could hear the harmonica playing as I read. Wonderful & Congratulations. Cheers - Gary
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/19/2021 7:35:00 PM
Dear Gary, your comments are cherished. I'm touched to know that my poem stirred your senses. Thank you for sharing your precious thoughts and for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. Your heartwarming congrats is held in my truest appreciation, my friend. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 5:29:00 AM
Congratulations, Susan, on your Trophy Win, for this amazingly beautiful, breathing craft!!
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/19/2021 7:32:00 PM
Dear Newton, it is a pleasure to see you! Your gracious visit and beautiful comments are held in my deepest appreciation. Thank you, my friend, for sharing in the emotions of this poem with me. Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/19/2021 12:12:00 AM
Back with congratulations Susan on this stunning write and also congrats on it being number one of the best poems list. You are such a talented poet. Enjoy both honours. Tom
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/19/2021 7:30:00 PM
Dear Tom, I am humbled by your heartfelt kindness. Thank you, my friend, for your uplifting congrats and inspiring words. Your return visit is relished and your friendship is cherished. Warmest wishes and I hope this week is being kind to you.. ~Susan
Date: 10/18/2021 7:50:00 PM
Susan, I read your incredible poem, and my mouth dropped in awe! I said, "Well, I don't know who wrote this, but it is definitely a winner." And, it rose to the very top of my contest. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/19/2021 7:29:00 AM
Dear Milton, thank you for the honor of my poem’s placement in your contest. It is indeed a wonderful thrill for me to share the podium with such gifted and distinguished poets/poetesses on your list. Thank you, too, for your inspiring comments and heartwarming congrats. Congratulations to all the winners! Warmest wishes.. ~Susan
Date: 10/18/2021 12:46:00 AM
Hi Susan,my poetry sis I look forward to the next part of this poetic historical gem. Blessings, Jenny.
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Susan Ashley
Date: 10/19/2021 7:52:00 AM
My sweet sis, I’m still working on finishing that part.. but will post it as soon as it’s ready. Thank you for your gracious and inspiring friendship, Jennifer. Warmest wishes and hugs sent to you across the many miles, my dear friend.. ~Susan
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