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Gianni's hadn't opened yet
But, the bar was going strong
If you listened, in the distance
You heard the working of a song

The regulars were present
The Captain, Soldier and the kid
The bartender was cleaning
'Cause that was what she did

The sun, well, it was shining
It was a great day all around
And in the alley sat The Blues man
Sitting still upon the ground

Nothing, any different
Than most any other day
The street folk passing greetings
While the Blues man chose to play

The bell above the bar door rang
As a stranger came on in
The dust hung in a sunbeam
Falling  from the old bell of tin

In back of old Gianni's
The Blues man played a Dylan tune
He slid right into Guthrie
It was a perfect afternoon

The stranger grabbed the bar's end stool
He ordered up and looked around
Then he said, "excuse me barkeep"
"Just exactly, what's that sound?"

She said it was The Blues man
He's a legend on the street
The man said, "sounds intriguing"
"He is someone I should meet"

The Captain ordered up a shot
The juke box started playing
In the corner sat an old man
Not quite sure if he was staying

The barkeep quizzed the stranger
Said "You're off the normal route"
"Most stranger get directions"
Then he pulled a card out of his suit

He said his name was  Edwards
He wasn't lost, he had a plan
He'd heard about the music
Now he came to meet the man

"It says here you do A & R"
"You can sit here and can listen"
"But, The Blues man isn't gonna talk"
"You have nothing that he's missing"

The music in the bar was rock
Out in back, a bluesy lick
You could listen to the tunes inside
Or go out back, you had your pick

"Can I at least go out and see him?"
"You can but won't get far"
Then she put his card with others
She had collected in a jar

"You see those cards all in there?"
"Thirty three more just like you"
"Have come around here snffing"
"Like he's some creature in a zoo"

"See that girl there in the corner?"
The man nodded that he did
"Talk to her, she'll tell you"
"She runs the book store, she's his kid"

The Blues man played some Chapin
Let loose on Thunder Road
Took a small sip from his hip flask
It was hidden, rarely showed

The man asked for an ashtray
Was told "you cannot smoke in here"
"But, the old man in the corner..."
She said sssshhhh, and poured a beer

"The folks round here have stories"
"Some good, and some are bad"
"He's the only one that I let smoke"
"The old man's story is quite sad"

"Stick around a while, see"
"Just what makes the street click"
"There's a hundred different stories"
"Look around and take your pick"

"But, what about The Blues man?"
"I can give him things he hasn't got"
"You will learn sir, that possessions"
"Make him something he is not"

"He plays music in the alley"
"He does't know if you are there"
"He plays what his soul is feeling"
"He'll play to you, or to the air"

"Your best bet, is to sit here"
"Leave him be, don't light the fuse"
"You may set him on a tangent"
"And he just may lose his muse"

"He's a part of everybody here"
"He's a savior, and a sage"
"He's The Blues man to the street folk"
"But, he's from a different age"

"Have a beer, talk to his daughter"
"Play some darts, the beer's on me"
"My advice, I hope you'll take it"
"Is to let The Blues man be"

"Go back to where you came from"
"Tell the folks who sent you here"
"That The Blues man declined nicely"
"And then you two shared a beer"

He smiled, looked to the corner
Ordered one more, "I concur"
"while you're pouring out my lager"
"pour one more drink for her"

He went off to the corner
Introduced himself and sat
Never mentioned his profession
And that they say is that

The Blues man played some Johnson
The A & R man stayed a while
He looked back toward the barkeep
She looked back, and shared a smile
The door opened, he entered
There was a whoosh of air
The Bluesman looked bedraggled
And he grabbed himself a chair

Cy, came out, he heard the bell
Saw the Bluesman, gave a smile
He said "I see the storm is worse"
"It's gonna keep up for a while"

The Bluesman looked around the store
Saw a guitar on the wall
"She's an old one hanging over there"
He called to Cy, now down the hall

He grabbed it, rubbed the neck some
He said "she's got a lot to say"
He went back to the wooden chair
And the Bluesman, he did play

"There's lots of music in this girl"
"So many songs not sung"
He looked back at the hook behind
Where this old guitar had hung

He sang songs about Jesus
about freedom, and the moon
Amazingly for the guitars age
It wasn't out of tune

Cy went to the **** stores  back
returning with a flask
He'd brought the Bluesman medicin
The Bluesman continued with his task

"This old girls a treasure trove"
"She's just so full of words"
"Songs kept hidden for so long"
"Songs just waiting to be heard"

He played some more, the storm let up
He thanked Cy, took his leave
"An old guitar needs to be played"
"It's lost songs to be grieved"

"You know that you can play her"
"Whenever you come by"
The Bluesman turned and smiled
He held the flask given by Cy

"That old guitar is special"
"She's an old soul, just like me"
"I thank you for the offer"
"Time will tell, we'll see"

The Bluesman left the pawnshop
It was if he wasn't there
He went out back behind Gianni's
And sang his music to the air
Back behind Gianni's
There was no one to be found
The alleyway was quiet
You could not hear a sound

The frost had not yet burned off
The alleyway was wet
The deliveries had not been made
No one was moving yet

In the sky  a rarity
Both sun and moon were out
But seen by just night creatures
Since no one was about

The back window to Gianni's
Opened to where Jim slept
There was garbage in the doorway
Since it had not yet been swept

The moon was getting lower
The sun just in the sky
The silence was then broken
By a blackbird flying by

The bird woke up the Bluesman
with his early morning call
And he watched the Bluesman set up
Perched up high upon a wall

The Bluesman had his guitar
Wiped some moisture off  his crate
Another blackbird landed
A rat peeked out from a drain grate

The Bluesman started playing
Singing low, just barely heard
More animals were showing up
And they took in every word

His medicine beside him
In a flask, engraved "For Dad"
His voice was smooth and smoky
You could hear him, just a tad

More birds came for the concert
More rats, some squirrels too
No humans yet were moving
In the early morning dew

He sang as he was known too
To no one special, just the sky
Songs of revelation
Songs of watching people die

The small flock that had gathered
Watched The Bluesman, moved a bit
As he took sips from his medicine
Not a single song...a hit

The world was just now waking
But The Bluesman didn't care
He was doing what he always did
Singing softly to the air

Normally, the street would fill
As word would spread around
That the Bluesman was out playing
But, today...no one was found

The window to Gianni's
Let Jim lie in bed and dream
That he heard the Bluesman singing
In his room, on a sun beam

The birds all flew away at once
The was movement in behind
Life was coming to the street
Where at night the vermin dined

The Bluesman packed his kit up
Snuck away from the day light
To sleep and rest his weary bones
To venture forth again that night

The rats went to the sewers
The birds had flown away
The squirrels, they were also gone
And the street began it's day

Jim looked out his window
The alley empty, no one thee
Where while Jim thought he was dreaming
The Bluesman sang songs to the air

An early morning concert
Full of music, 'neath the sun
A concert heard by many
A concert just for one
It was a hot summer night
Still nearly ninety, I'd say
When out back of Giovannis
The Bluesman sat down to play
He pulled up his crate
Took a sip from his flask
"This here's my med-cin"
"In case someone happens to ask"

He started a story
That we'd never heard
We're the folks of the street
And we followed each word
It's a tale of James Withers
A man in need of a hand
But to us on the street
He was the Sand Castle Man

The bluesman strummed gently
He didn't want the words to be lost
For this was a story
That had a hell of a cost
You see, James the sand man
Lost a life to the sea
His grandson, young James
Drowned and died ...only three

Each day James went down
With his grandson in tow
They'd make castles together
They'd make some fast and some slow
One day the pair
were out at the end of the pier
when a rogue wave hit hard
And took what James held most dear

His grandson was swept out
Lost at sea ....never found
They searched for three weeks
But the poor boy was drowned
James kept a vigil
Every day on the beach
He'd look out on the water
His heart out of reach

He kept making sand castles
As he did with young James
With shells and old driftwood
And he gave each castle names
He'd have non-existent armies
Fight non existent wars
In his hard packed sand castles
He carved windows and doors

There was nonexistent dragons
In pools by the sea
Guarding nonexistent princesses
Who no one could see
There were turrets and moats
And each day he'd build one
To be lost to the tide
As the days work was done

Each day a new castle
Each day a new war
But , nobody knew
What he was building them for
The tide would come in
And would sweep it away
All that hard work
Gone at the end of the day

But, next morning he'd show up
Build one more for the tide
With armies nonexistent
To flow away for a ride
People would watch him
Make the castles of sand
With imaginary soldiers
In imaginary lands

The bluesman sang soft
Took a sip once again
From the flask on his hip
It's just med-cin
The crowd didn't stir
We were like moths to the flame
As we heard the bluesman
finish his tale about James

I asked him one morning
If he ever would end
Building castles of sand
He said, Bluesman, my friend
I know that each castle
Will be washed out to see
And I hope that my grandson
Gets a message from me

I make each sand castle
Like we both used to do
I come back every day
And start another anew
It helps with the closure
I send my soul to the sea
And I hope that my grandson
Knows their for him made by me

He finished and thanked us
And we went on our way
All of us changed some
From what the bluesman did play
Next time I'm out wandering
And see the castles of sand
I'll know what he's building
Now...that I understand
Twenty two years had passed  by

She blinked, and a lifetime had passed

She started this job as a lark

She never thought it would last

Two husbands and rehab were part of this bar

The husbands...her clients all knew

But the rehab, was hers...and hers all alone

Only one in her family knew

She'd been tending bar here for 3 presidents plus

Two popes, two husbands....one queen

There were things in this bar that were secreted away

There were things just not meant to be seen

Say, 4 fights a week for 22 years

That's four thousand six hundred fights

That's more violent acts than one person should see

That's  a lot of just mind numbing sights

As a tender of bar, she was part doctor as well

Serving drinks, and giving advice

She was hit on as well, and most she turned down

But some, they succeeded....some twice

They would come with their problems

spill their guts to this girl

Who they'd probably just met that night

They would tell her their problems and drink a few ales

When they  left, they would be feeling all right

But, Mary...poor Mary would harbour their pain

She'd help them, but could not let things go

They'd cheer up with her talking and 1 or 2 beers

But she hurt, and would leave feeling low

There was always a someone on the tales other end

Who was home, maybe beaten or mad

But, Mary....she talked to the one who'd come out

And she always left feeling quite sad

The stories they told her, she never asked them to tell

But they came and they opened on up

And she as their hostess just listened and served

Whle they sat there, getting full in their cups

She married two men that she met in the bar

Both left wives, and poor Mary was blind

They both charmed this girl, till she was way too far gone

And she learned that love..yes, was blind

She had a young niece, that her sister had left

She was going to school here in town

If there was one person alive who could bring Mary up

Her niece Amber was the proverbial clown

After marrying twice and divorcing just once

Mary vowed not to do it again

But, she was hit on each night

in this bar Down the lane,

by a considerable number of men

Her first husband...a lout, for better want of a term

Was a drunkard, and jealous most days

But she fell for him hard, for his sad tale of woe

And her marriage lasted 91 days

He would come in each night after finishing work

And would berate her for flirting for tips

After leaving the bar, he would beat her at home

Hitting low, just above Mary's hips

Her boss saw her marks whens she was filling the fridge

He kept quiet, but he told her to call

A friend that he had, who would help Mary out

He knew her marks were not from a fall

Before Mary phoned she had incredible news

Her husband had been in a crash

Her problems were over and her bruises would heal

And it all happened ...****...in a flash

During this time her sister ran off

Leaving Amber for Mary to raise

Though she hated her sister for leaving

Dear Amber she loved, and she helped Mary get through the days

But eight years along, with no outlet in sight

Hearing tales and of other folks pain

Mary reached out and she found comfort in

A needle and a rock of *******

for three years she spiked, shooting up every day

spending money she stole from the till

And during this time, she got married again

He seduced her when she had no self will

He knew of her problem and joined in all the same

Just a leech come along for the ride

He would help keep her secret, never telling her boss

Never letting them know she was fried.

Poor Amber found out, she walked in one June day

there was Mary with her coke and her spoon

When she looked at young Amber, she knew she must quit

And she knew that she must do it soon

Pure heartbreak she saw in that little girls eyes

She could see how she thought she would lose

Her Aunt like her mother, gone from her life

Mary knew she would now have to choose

Rehab was chosen, and her husband he left

He found out that this train had now stopped

his free ride was over, his meal ticket gone

You could say that his bubble had popped

Two years clean celebrated, at the bar with the kid

Mary got some good news from her boss

He was retiring to Texas and was selling the bar

And he would sell it to her at a loss

She was now the proud owner of a bar all her own

Three doors down from Giannis on Hope

She would run it precisely, the way she'd been taught

She would run the bar clean, free from dope

She would meet some great people,

Some nights in for a drink

And others that she wished would just leave

She would listen to stories, some good some not quite so much

And others just to  hard to believe

She would make friends with some people  And others she'd ban,

making sure that they left with a start

She'd befriend Harry Cooper, the World War two vet

Who would imprint his soul on her heart

And Amber...yes Amber would come down to spend time

She was fine and was going to school

She was a classical ****** in the dark of her room

And I tell you this girl was just cool

Mary brought Amber up with morals and faith

She would come when her Aunt made the call

She would rather hang out at the bar every night

Than to go with her friends to the mall

Mary made peace with the demons she had

She could leave the folks tales and go home

But, now she had Amber and a reason to live

And she would not have to do it alone

the bar's past Giannias, three doors  down to the right

It's not large but she makes  it make do

There's some music out back from a bluesman as well

Come on down and be one of the few

Be a regular there, join up with the crowd

It's not big but the beer's always cold

You don't have to stay long, but you'll come back again

For it's special....or so I've been told

Tell Mary I sent you, you'll get a free drink

And a free ear to hear of your tale

But, leave your ciggies outside for you can't smoke in here

You can do it outside by the pail.
Phone calls were made, meetings were held and the new group was set to get started

There was lots to be learned and so little time for the lessons to all be imparted

The plan was immense, it was larger this time and the time was going by fast

They would all act as one, getting everything done and their goal was to not finish last

It was done every year, in the schools through the town, it was something the kids all enjoyed

But this year was tough, with all the closings and stuff and the fact there was more unemployed

Each school was set up to blitz through the town and to collect all the food that they can

But with more on the list and those who would surely be missed were the ones who set last years plan

Team leaders were picked in each group at the school, and their job was to get this all done

And to beat last years tote by at least one more pound and to make sure that it was all fun

Pep rally's were held to get the students involved and help motivate those involved

But with more needing help and less firms out to help, they had problems they had to get solved

On December the first, the kids all set out ringing bells in the malls and the stores

From there they would go with buses and trucks and collect food by knocking on doors

The school who did best bringing in the most pounds would be win a cup and awards

But to all those concerned, they had to get out and blanket the town in great hoards

People backed out from tasks all assigned, It was cold and they had too much to do

There was homework as well, and jobs on the side and alot wouldn't see the task through

But they all persevered and the food all came in, cans and boxes and crates and in bags

There was food left at school from donators unknown, just good wishes all written on tags

The goal was to raise an amount more than last and to do it in twenty two days

The total to date was behind just a bit but there was still time to make this year pay

So with one last great push the students went out and they held one last drive at the mall

If they collect one more ton, then all would be done and they could all know they answered the call

On Christmas Eve morn the principals met and they said they had all reached their goals

They shook all their hands and they stuck out their chests for they knew that they'd fulfilled their roles

The students were told at assemblies too, and the food was dropped off through the town

They had beat last years numbers by about fifty pounds even though they all thought they'd be down

So for all those they helped for the one day that month, where they had Christmas dinner and laughter

Was brought  back to earth by one voice in one school, who asked "What would these families eat the day after?"
.
T'was the night before Christmas, And at the back of the bar

Sat a man all alone, Lighting up a cigar

The waitress ran over and waving her hand

You can't do that here, Smoking is banned.

If you must smoke that thing, you can go to the street

And stay away from the building, by at least fifty feet

The man took a puff and with a voice like a croak

He said, "You're kidding, right miss? You're making a joke"

I'm sorry, but sir..I'm afraid that it's true

But the law is the law, and it's not only for you

That we must say **** out, please extinguish your smoke

So our place can be filled with other fine folk

For ninety two years I have walked on this earth,

I have broken no laws and you know what it's worth?

Bupkiss, no nada it's not worth a thing

Would that law still apply if I was a King?

I've been coming in here for 60 odd years

And I think I've consumed a truckload of beers

I've smoked in this corner on many a night

Now you say **** out, I don't think that's right.

I fought for this country at the end of the war

I came home with a war wound, and you know dear...what's more

I came to this bar to have drinks with my friends

Who all weren't so lucky and met terrible ends

They died on the beach, heart as big as a house

Taking on the unknown for their country, their spouse

They battled for honor, the right to be free

And they all weren't as lucky, to come home like me.

I was here in the sixities when Camelot died

I was here with my son, and we both sat and cried

It was that night in November, I remember it well

That my son said he'd joined up and was heading to hell

He had joined the marines and was all set to fight

For freedom and honor and he knew it was right

Because I'd gone before and stood with others like him

And I said just be safe, and come home son...my Jim

In the years he was gone, I came down here to think

Of why he was there and I shared smokes and drinks

With friends, all now gone from this world of distrust

Now they all lie beneath us, decomposed back to dust.

My son made it back and we came right down here

To spend time with our friends, both from far and from near.

The years passed us by and my grandson joined too

And we sat and we prayed in this bar, for we knew

He was fighting for freedom and the rights we hold dear

Like having some fun, over smokes and some beer.

He never came home from his war, don't you see

That's why we're sitting alone here, just you and me

Tonight is the night that his letter arrived

Saying "We regret to inform you...that no one survived"

So, each Christmas Eve I come back to this bar

To savor my memories and to drink from this jar

And I finish each year thinking of what now is gone,

Of my battle scarred boy and his now deceased son

Now, you come and tell me that I must go outside

To continue my smoking and so I'll abide

'cause for 92 years that I've been on this earth

I've broken no laws and you know what that's worth

Then the waitress reached back and she pulled out a match

From a box on the bar with a rusty old catch

She said Sir, I am sorry I didn't mean to offend

For this one night each year, the law I can bend

So please light one for me on this Christmas Eve Night

And Thank you from all who continue the fight.

Merry Christmas and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019
A Christmas Eve Poem that was posted earlier, I have not added much, but, I think it is fitting to read so those of you who haven't seen my older works, and The Street Poems, may get a chance.
It was time for celebration
Thanksgiving weekend was now here
A time for food and football
A time for love and prayer

In front of old Gianni's
The parade was marching by
But, way back in the alley
Someone was singing to the sky

The Blues man sat and pondered
As he sometimes chose to do
Of his songs and of his music
That really reached too few

The parade was full of bluster
High School Bands and all that stuff
While out back of Old Gianni's
The Blues man had it rough

But, he sang songs of Thanksgiving
To the Lord, and to the sky
He was praising all worlds beings
Though no body did pass by

He sang "Glory, Glory, Glory"
He sang "Allehlujah " too
Even though he sat with no one
The Blues man wasn't blue

Back door opened slowly
As the parade was winding down
People from The Street
Were slowly coming round

The Blues man didn't notice
Singing on without a break
Singing songs of praise and glory
With just the sounds that he could make

Then all at once he looked out
Saw the quickly gathered throng
He changed what he was playing
And he broke into a song

The Blues man started Christmas
Singing of a Christmas Tree
And of a long ago soft Silent Night
And the entire show was free

He didn't sing of presents
He didn't sing of our excess
He sang Christmas Hymns of long ago
When we all gave thanks for less

The Blues man had his medcin'
Drank a bit, and sang some more
Then he started slowing down
When she came out from her back door

The woman with the used book place
Stood silent, listening with this cast
Of The Street owners and people
On who life had given up so fast

She walked up to The Blues man
Through the crowd to where he was
And she started singing with him
Which made the Blues man pause

He knew he'd heard this voice before
Back when people knew his name
It was older and some shaky
But, the voice it was the same

The woman looked down at him
Gave a smile, shed a tear
Then she said "It's me dad"
"It's no dream...I am here"

The Blues man kept on playing
For two hours more or so
When the weather, not the people
Put an end to this mans show

Another past Thanksgiving
Was still playing in his mind
But, The Blues man and his daughter
Had a life they had to find

No one heard her say it
Just The Blues man, as he sang
This was the start of a new story
As bells of Thanksgiving loudly rang
Back behind Gianni's bar
The Bluesman sings his tunes
To all the local n'er do wells
And to the stars and to the moon

His voice is coarse as forty grit
His playing smooths it out
He plays upon an orange crate
Comfort is not what he's about

Bluesman, Bluesman play a song
One sung just for me
One that paints pictures in my head
A song that I can see

Buskers, lined the concourse
The street where he was not
This was just a place for tourist fare
He was where the world forgot

His tunes were sung for no one but
Himself and to the air
Out front, that was another world
Bluesman, did not live out there

A crowd has gathered slowly
More of a group, than a real crowd
They heard about the bluesman
And out front was too **** loud

In back, you heard the feelings
Felt the music, heard the strings
You experienced the atmosphere
That a good old bluesman brings

Out of the crowd of fandom
Working his way through the mass
Was a young, tousled haired boy
Everybody let him pass

He rocked in one position
He felt the music ebb and flow
He looked where the notes were airborne
He saw the music go

The bluesman sat and watched him
playing stories, telling tales
Of drunks in old Las Vegas
And of sailors fighting gales

the young boy stood and rocked some
always looking at the air
He wasn't looking at the bluesman
He didn't know that he was there

He walked up to the old man
staring out into the space
that streamed the bluesmans music
right into the young boys face

the bluesman watched intently
As the young lad touched his hand
And he held the bluesmans old guitar
He became a member of the band

The boy moved even closer
If that were possible at all
He was feeling the sweet music
He was having quite a ball

The crowd watched as the bluesman
and the boy became as one
The boy resting his head now
On the guitar, having fun

He couldn't see the bluesman
But the music, it was there
The boy was blind, autistic
He saw the notes that filled the air

The bluesman kept on playing
For that was what the bluesman did
He was playing for the starry sky
And for this wondrous little kid

His mother came and held him
She took the bluesman by the hand
She said thank you for the music
For letting him be in your band

In a voice as smooth as Bourbon
The bluesman told her that her son
Could come and feel the music
The music makes us one

Bluesman, Bluesman play a song
One that's only just for me
Bluesman, Bluesman play a song
That only I can see....
On Christmas Eve, the street was dead
Most folks were home or gone
The buildings all were empty
That is, except for one

Gianni kept the lights on
As he did most every night
To let the people of the street
Know that everything's all right

Gianni's was a haven
A safe house for the street
The residents were welcome
And there was always a free seat

On Christmas Eve, though magic...
would take place inside the back
For each Christmas Eve at midnight
They'd get more than Santa with his sack

Precisely at the hour
When Christmas Day became the date
The house lights dimmed just slightly
As if by magic, or by fate

There on stage with Gianni
Sat the Bluesman and a band
Some only played this concert
It was the best one in the land

Hymns and Christmas carols
Sung like angelic odes of joy
And as always ...there's the Bluesman
Smiling, looking just a little coy

You never knew his secrets
There was always more than he would show
And most folks would pay a fortune
To know just what this man did know

Holy, Holy, Holy,
and songs from years gone by
were mixed with hymns that grabbed your heart
and made most folks there cry

It was invitation only
Just the folks from on the street
The locals didn't post it
It was kept quiet.... indiscreet

He played for near three hours
His little band of odds and sods
Singing songs of Christmas
Singing songs to God

He always had his med-sin
that small flask was by his side
And Gianni, every watchful
made sure it never did go dry

The Bluesman, stopped the concert
the room was quiet, all subdued
And everyone just sat there
I swear, not one person moved

He opened up the window
Pointed to the brightest light
He said "another saviour may be born"
"And it may just be tonight"

It was on a night like this my friends
That Mary did give birth
When Jesus Christ, our saviour
was given life right here on earth

My music sends a message
To all, both near and far
The same message was sent years ago
By one bright shining star

Gianni, led them all outside
And they stared into the sky
Silent Night indeed, Gianni thought
And then the Bluesman bid goodbye

He went back through the kitchen
To where he slept most winter nights
Where Gianni, gave him refuge
You know it's safe....from the bright lights.......

— The End —