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[08] Tin Roof Blues E-mail
Viper Mad
Wednesday, 28 December 2005 05:52
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Part VIII

"Tin Roof Blues"


'During the years
when I sold the stuff,' Mezz sez,
'I never "pushed" it. I sold it
to grown-up friends of mine

who had got to using it
on their own. I only know of one
very bad thing the tea can do to you 
it can put you in jail.'

'Spring of 193I ' writes Louis,
'we did call ourselves Vipers,
which could have been anybody
from all walks of life

that smoked & respected gage.
That was our cute little name for marijuana,
& it was a misdomeanor
in those days. We always looked at pot

as more of a medicine
than a dope. But if we all get as old
as Methuselah
our memories will always be

of lots of beauty
& warmth from gage. Mary Warner, honey,
you sure was good, & I enjoyed you
'heep much'. But the price

got a little too high to pay
(law wise). At first
you was a 'misdomeanor'.
But as the years rolled on

you lost your misdo
& got meanor
& meanor.
(Jailhousely speaking.)

'In California
when Vic Berton & I
got busted together,
it was during our intermission

while Vic & I were blasting this joint 
having lots of laughs
& feeling good
enjoying each other's company. We were standing

in this great big lot
in front of some car. Just then
two big healthy Dicks (detectives)
came from behind a car 

nonchalantly & said to us,
we'll take the roach boys.
(Hmm) So one Dick
stayed with me, & when he and I

were on our way down to the police station
we had a heart to heart talk. First words
that he said to me were,
Armstrong

I am a big fan of yours
& so is my family. We catch your program
every night
over the radio. In fact,

nobody goes to bed
in our family
until your program's over.
And they're all great 

which I was glad to hear,
especially coming from him.
Ha Ha. Then this Dick
confidentially told me, he said,

Armstrong,
this wouldn't have happened
if that band leader
who's playing just up the road from you

didn't get jealous
because you are doing bigger business.
So he dropped a nickel on you
& stoolpigeon on you. They sent me & my partner

to come up for the assignment,
& when we found out
that you was the one we must nab
it broke our hearts.

When we reached the police headquarters
the minute we came through the door
they all recognised me right away. They too
had been diggin' my music nightly

over the radio. I spent nine days
in the Downtown Los Angeles City Jail,
& as we walked through the cellblocks,
where prisoners of many many nationalities

were locked up, they looked up
& saw me walking
with this great big deputy sheriff
& (en mass) they hollered

Louie Armstrong
over 'n' over. They also hollered
sing Old Rockin' Chair, etc. etc.,
& I smiled and said, Fellers

I don't have time right now,
nothing but to concentrate on
what I am gonna tell this judge. They all laughed
& cheered, saying

Good luck Louie. The judge
gave me a suspended sentence
& I went to work that night 
wailed just like nothing happened.'

At the World's Fair,'
Mezz sez, 'that's where the law
nabbed me again
with my pockets

full of reefer. Down
to the station house we went,
& then the detective said,
'This son-off-a-bitch

is a nigger-lover. Let's send him
to Riker's Island' (where Mezz
spent the next 17 months
of his life).

'Looking back, I sure never suspected
I was living a saga
or an odyssey
during all those frantic years. Man oh man,

if I'd known
I was being significant
instead of just hungry & beat,
I sure would have changed my ways.

I only hope
they spell my name right
in Who's Who,
& get the dates
of my prison record
straight,
& don't forget to say,
"Race: Negro."



3.1.668
 
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