From one end of town to the other,
from tube amps, vintage Strats, cheap Asian knock-offs
to his beloved National Steel,
from low E all the way up the neck,
sliding into the last fret with reckless precision.
From Oak Bluffs to Memphis, and back,
from the Regional to the Ritz,
the regulars along the bar,
the worst drunk in front of the band,
State workers down for the weekend,
dealers, squealers, golfers, bums.
From ten until closing, with two fingers,
three chords and a flinty growl;
from the first song to the last amp
stacked back in the van, we could hear him
down the street, across the harbor,
echoing in our ears for hours.
The blues kept bad news at bay
until the doctors told him he
didn’t have much time — but who
does? He kept playing until they started
putting up chairs, turning on lights,
until way past last call —
from the stage on out the door.
For Maynard Silva
— Donald Nitchie
Donald Nitchie lives in Chilmark and edits the Banjo Newsletter, but he is fond of all stringed instruments and their practitioners. His poetry chapbook, “Driving Lessons,” was published in 2008 from Pudding House.
The Martha’s Vineyard Times welcomes contributions to Poet’s Corner. Dan Waters, former poet laureate of West Tisbury, will select poems to be published here. Submissions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.