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Poem for Roscoe Holcomb


Floodlit you look nervous
shy as a boy at a dance
they found you down
in Hazard brought you up
like a trilobite into the light
of the north in Manhattan
your nerves must be shot
to hell and now onstage
they’re rolling film of where
you live Seeger saying “Not much
of a house four walls a roof
the walls papered with the daily
news to keep the wind out
are most houses like that?”
and you say switching the banjo
out for the guitar “Some are”
and Seeger says “Now Roscoe
you make a living working
construction is that right?”
and you say “Yes but I can
hardly work anymore I broke
my back” and Seeger says “But
your fingers they sure still work”
and you say “I can’t hardly see
how what with lifting so many
cinder blocks as I have” and
Seeger says “Well will you play
one for us?” and you say
“I call this one
The Rocky Mountain”
as you play they’re rolling
footage of you hoeing corn
on another day of your life
self-conscious knowing
you’re being filmed
you stop playing
and Seeger says “Oh you
saw your...take your eye off
that monitor and keep on singin’
hold that Rocky Mountain” and you try
but how can they ask you to
play today in New York City
while you’re watching yourself
hoeing corn in Hazard
Kentucky last spring?
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