Monday, December 19, 2016

Ken Allan Dronsfield writes & multimediates

White Silk and Whispers

Lazy mists envelop this land;
scarlet sky with a serene azure;
working fields of cotton or yam;
adrift within a sun dog's rapture.
Awkward stare at waltzing ravens
escape aromas; decayed river silt;
prayers come and rise to Heaven
her old wheel spins white raw silk.
A cool breeze blows over the bay,
whispers of death, the devil's desire.
Life at the crossroad relives each day,
as Robert Johnson strums in the fire.



  1. Sun dogs, mock suns, phantom suns are parhelia, atmospheric phenomena that consist of a pair of bright, subtly colored patches of light spots on either horizontal side of the sun and at the same elevation, often co-occurring with a luminous ring known as a 22° halo. They are caused by the refraction of light from plate-shaped hexagonal ice crystals in high and cold cirrus or cirrostratus clouds; the crystals act as prisms that bend the light passing through them. The tern "sun dogs" may have taken its name from Sköll and Hati, the vargar (wolves) that pursue Sól the son and Máni the moon across the sky very day; these vargs are the twin offspring of Fenrir.

  2. Robert Johnson was an African-American blues singer whose two recording sessions prodiced by Don Law influenced later generations of musicians, particularly blues rockers such as Eric Clapton. In hs first outing, over three days in November 1936 in room 414 of the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, he played 16 songs with alternate takes for most of them and by facing the wall employed the technique of "corner loading" to enhance his guitar sound. In 1937, in a makeshift studio at the Vitagraph Building in Dallas, he recorded another 11 songs, again with alternative versions of most of them. The legendary Columbia Records producer John H. Hammond, who was largely responsible for the recording careers of Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and many others, happened to owne some of his records and sent Law to book him for the first "From Spirituals to Swing" concert at Carnegie Hall in New York in 1938, but Johnson was already dead at 27. Big Bill Broonzy landed the gig instead, but Hammond played two of Johnson's records from the stage. An itinerant performer, Johnson played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, and was almost unknown until his recordings were reissued in 1961. His father was a relatively prosperous landowner and furniture maker who was forced by a lynch mob to leave infant Robert's birthplace in Mississippi following a dispute with white landowners. When he was 18 he married a 16-year-old bride who died in childbirth soon after, perhaps as divine punishment for "selling his soul to the Devil" by deciding to sing secular songs. Son House remembered him as a competent harmonica player but an embarrassingly bad guitarist who left town and returned with wondrous skill. He had taken his guitar at midnight to a crossroad near Dockery Plantation (a cotton plantation and sawmill in Dockery, Mississippi, where blues musicians Charlie Patton and Howlin' Wolf sometimes resided), where he was met by a large black man who tuned, the guitar, played a few songs, then returned it to Johnson in exchange for his soul. Other locations for the crossroads are in Hazlehurst (his birthplace), Beauregard, and Clarksdale, Mississippi, and in Memphis, Tennessee, and residents of Rosedale, Mississippi, claim the evnt occurred at the intersection of Highways 1 and 8 in their town. He traveled widely, using at least eight distinct surnames, and struck up many long-term romantic liaisons, including a cousin of blues musician David "Honeyboy" Edwards and the mother (who was 15 years older than Johnson) of blues musician Robert "Jr." Lockwood. According to Sonny Boy Williamson ("the first"), Johnson was caught flirting with a married woman at a dance, and her jealous husband gave him a bottle of poisoned whiskey; Williamson knocked it out of his hand and admonishedhim never to drink from a bottle that he had not personally seen opened, but Johnson told him, "Don't ever knock a bottle out of my hand" and accpted another poisoned bottle in its place. He died three days later in a convulsive state of severe pain and was buried in a homemade coffin furnished by the county. The exact location of his grave is unknown, though three different markers have been erected at possible sites in church cemeteries outside Greenwood, Mississippi; one of them, a one-ton cenotaph in the shape of an obelisk paid for laegely by Columbia Records, lists all of his song titles and was erected at the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church near Morgan City, Mississippi; Sony Music placed a marker at the Little Zion Church north of Greenwood; the Tombstones, an Atlanta rock group, had a small marker with the epitaph "Resting in the Blues" placed in the cemetery of Payne Chapel near Quito, Mississippi.


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