There are all kinds of blues, too.
Joe McPhee Survival Unit 3 (JM, alto saxophone; Fred Lonberg-Holm, cello; Michael Zerang, drums), live, London, 2010
Dream Song 40
By John Berryman (1914-1972)
I’m scared a lonely. Never see my son,
easy be not to see anyone,
combers out to sea
know they’re goin somewhere but not me.
Got a little poison, got a little gun,
I’m scared a lonely.
I’m scared a only one thing, which is me,
from othering I don’t take nothin, see,
for any hound dog’s sake.
But this is where I livin, where I rake
my leaves and cop my promise, this’ where we
cry oursel’s awake.
Wishin was dyin but I gotta make
it all this way to that bed on these feet
where peoples said to meet.
Maybe but even if I see my son
forever never, get back on the take,
free, black & forty-one.
Back in the ’70s, when I was in college, I heard John Berryman read his poetry, an experience that opened my ears and mind in all kinds of ways. He moved so swiftly, and gracefully, from one register to another, leaping back and forth between high and low as if nothing could be more natural. Today he joins a select group—tenor saxophonist Von Freeman, trumpeter Lester Bowie, singer Dorothy Love Coates, poets Wislawa Szymborska and William Bronk—in the MCOTD Hall of Fame.