Tag Archives: blues

the Blues of It…

it’s a rhythm

slow, low and bluesy

seeping like vapors into a waking day

me in the middle of it

always caught by surprise

always caught

off guard/off kilter

by the soothing riffs

slur/sliding down the notes

trilling backward in time

to then


even after checking the archival catalogues

i can never find any foreshadowing

it’s always the same interrupt/

same perpetual stop-loss/


decades passing

has not changed the cadence

henderson born, kentucky rooted syncopation

dating way back to the 1800s

way back to when

my shawnee mothers hid out

near robards station

waiting through

the trip to containment

waiting through

the loss

it’s the blues of it

that keeps the song going




me in the middle

me on edge

traveling back to then

in the middle of a waking day

stop-loss now/ me caught

in the blues of it


My grandmother used to tell me stories…before she began to forget.  I stored them somewhere in my subconscious.  I remember them at the oddest of times, in the middle of dreams, while writing other things.  When I was 26, I joined the army.  The days before I left, I would bury my head in her breasts – like I did when I was a baby – to soak her up.  I knew that was the last time I would see her alive and I needed to keep a piece…  She’s in a lot of my plays in some way and when I am really tired, I slip into her southern way of speaking.  Nora Lee Phillips Morris…could sing a whole church happy…right in the middle of the blues…

Being a storyteller means remembering and sharing even when you got the blues…



“It’s the sound, the sound, the sound. I dance the sound.” Luigi

On purpose or by accident, there are things we do to the page when writing that are filled with the inner pieces and parts of us, all the subtle nuances of our voice. Learning to trust what is inside is a continual journey as we are always growing and must adjust and bend and stretch to that point that feels right…or not. Sometimes, it just sounds right and is hard to get that sound out of our heads until we get it down on the page. It surfaces like magma on occasion, uncharacteristically us. Do we keep it or discard it? Do we edit it or let it be free? Part of being true to the work, to me, is letting it speak…however, barbaric, refined, agnatic or matrilineal it is. It’s the pieces and parts of things that make the whole so interesting.

Once, while trying to write a play about a woman, the woman refused to speak. She would show up, press her lips together tightly and not say a mumbling word. After a few weeks of this, I tried to trick her by backing into her story. I wanted to find out her secret and why she wasn’t talking. I did her bio, assembled her family, I did their bios, then started writing the backstory. Since the woman wasn’t talking I thought perhaps her grandmother, Mama Lee, would. Mama Lee did speak but only to inform me she was looking at her son, Huron, and that I should look too, if I wanted to know about that sound I was hearing in the background – that chanting… So, I peeped and the sound started coming in louder and clearer…till those first words… It had begun – I was writing a play…Dream Catcher. This play I had never planned to write was teaching me so much about writing… I started settling with that play – settling into my voice. Dream Catcher showed me that as I evolve as a person and writer, how I approach the work also evolves and I don’t have to apologize for the backstory becoming a play. I don’t have to apologize for the subject matter, the characters or the setting. I don’t have to apologize for the spirits. I learned that my tendency to include spirits/memory is not a fluke nor is it a set thing. I learned not to apologize for my style. I learned that not only do I write from the voices that I hear but I write from the sound, the cadence. If Jazz is the cultural cadence then let me dance my dance to its rhythms, to its sounds… Let me have my phrasings and improvisations. Let me birth my pinks and greens and Blues… Let me have my language – my musical conversation – on the page and hopefully, on the stage…

I am still listening for the woman; she shows up every now and then to remind me that she’s gonna tell her story…eventually. In the meantime, I am learning to embrace my whole voice…every wonderful colorful octave…in pitch or not…