Amaud Jamaul Johnson

On This Side of Mercy

After Mississippi John Hurt

Some nights, I need to feel like the Sheriff’s backstage
And a too-tough niggah, who I owe more money than what’s
In my pocket, is standing out front, and I know my ass
Is too drunk or too slow to make the exit and keep my guitar.
When I close my eyes and palm the soundboard,
My fingers make a constellation, and my mind is all about
The last time with my woman; her nails strumming
My ribcage, how her name tastes, hovering in my mouth
Like a circle of smoke. Then the cry I let go, like a bird
Perched on my tongue. Then each chord, a new vein opening.
And then I don’t give a damn about nothing, anymore.