Old Joe


he fills

the underpass with music

gnarled hands coaxing notes

from a battered guitar



he plays to please the crowd

Free Bird or Smoke on the Water

but mostly he just jams


letting his fingers

dance across the frets

letting the music flow

into him and through him


every evening

as he walks back to the bridge

he passes the guitar shop

with the Gibson Firebird in the window


spotlights pick out

liquid swirls in black and red

frozen beneath a layer of lacquer

as thick as a ten pence piece


Joe presses

his palm against the window

and whistles softly


the Firebird sits mute

tethered by a security leash

caged behind a window grille


while Joe’s old strings

are free to sing


(C) Helen Lewis 2011

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