Pretending I’m Stevie Ray Vaughan at the Montreux Jazz Festival, 1982
by Kevin Ridgeway

the bootleg plays on repeat as I imagine myself
lost in the strings and my own growl, stretching out
the soul patch underneath my open mouth;
people boo and Swiss hippies dance
my hat eclipsing my chameleon face as it contorts and
changes colors with each note, my fender conducting a
three-man blues symphony,
far away from that teenaged bedroom in Oakcliff
quietly practicing for gigs like this with four walls as an audience,
sweat dripping on bloodied fingers as the tradition of sonic medicine
flows through and carries on to a new generation of loners
who rehearse every move in mirrors across the country listening
to the survivors of Texas floods and the reverberation
of their satisfied wails

I dream on in my own Southern California
version of that Oakcliff bedroom,
my fingers grooved and blistered from
playing too much air guitar
still waiting for that gig where I can
wear my pain and glory on my
guitar strap like badges earned
as I slowly learn to howl over the
sky and swim through the floods

Illya's Honey Literary Journal

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