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Me and Mr. Roberts

leaves crunch underfoot

a cool wind blows

cars whiz by

the church stands silent

no choir sings

no sermon rings out

it’s just me and Mr. Robert

out here today

do ghosts hear my harp?

do they long for music —

even half-hearted notes from

an absolute novice?

loneliness stretches out beneath these trees

swaying in the breeze

I play a couple of notes

to entertain the sleepers

who hold their approbation

for the encore

I salute Mr. Robert with

two yellow coins

plastic relics from some forgotten

Mardi Gras party

cheap trinkets for a gravestone

cat’s eyes staring back at me

a joke or a warning I can’t tell but

I don’t think Mr. Robert would allow any harm

despite what you might have heard

they say he sold his soul to the devil

so he could play a six-string

who can say whether that was a raw deal

but one thing I can say is that

we all know his name today

muted sun in gray skies

a flat cool Mississippi field

Money Road undulates

like a snake toward


I can hear the Tallahatchie

I can smell the Yalobusha

time to let Mr. Roberts