Carrying the Blues on a Ladder with Robert Johnson after Consideration of the RPM Conundrum

I’ve long loved you as the voice inside another time
Making seal on the doctored whiskey’s wet lipped lie

I’ve read: one laced bottle, two, or none. I’ve bent knees
At all three markers, left strings, guitar picks, pennies

Thumbed into dirt just to get that much closer to you
My ethereal, black angel, the sound of which and whom

They cannot purify or alter, regardless of pitch unknown.
I will not question your tempo as you sing me down.

Editor’s Note: Matt Mullins, the author of the preceding poem, recently found out that we may have been listening to Robert Johnson “wrong” all these years. Matt’s poem gives you an idea of what he thinks about that. You can listen to a few of the “slow downs” for yourself here and also here.

Matt Mullins writes fiction, screenplays, and poetry. He also makes experimental films and designs digital interfaces for his poems and stories. His written work has appeared in Pleiades, Hunger Mountain, Descant, Hobart, and various other print and online journals and anthologies. He lives in Muncie, Indiana where he teaches creative writing at Ball State University. Atticus Books will publish Matt’s first book, Three Ways of the Saw, a collection of stories, in the spring of 2012. The title story, “Three Ways of the Saw,” can be found here.

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