Neither of them were who they would be yet,
the skinny white boy and the black guitar
picker, sitting there smoking cigarettes
on the back steps of a Beale Street blues bar
most white folks wouldn’t much care to frequent,
but this one keeps coming. Riley likes him,
can tell this kid grew up without a cent;
the boy has country manners, and the dim
trace of rural Mississippi, softened
by Memphis, in his voice. They sit a while,
talking about songs they like. When they talk
their way to “Mystery Train,” they both smile.
The man counts it off, plays as the boy sings,
once upon a time, before they were kings.
~ ~ ~
Jeff Knight is a writer and musician in Austin, Texas. His poems have previously appeared in Rattle, South Carolina Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and online at Stirring: A Literary Collection.