Helen Whittaker and Kelly Newton

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons


Kelly Newton (MP3)
Inspiration piece

Old Joe
By Helen Whittaker

he fills
the underpass with music
gnarled hands coaxing notes
from a battered guitar

he plays to please the crowd
Free Bird or Smoke on the Water
but mostly he just jams

letting his fingers
dance across the frets
letting the music flow
into him and through him

every evening
as he walks back to the bridge
he passes the guitar shop
with the Gibson Firebird in the window

spotlights pick out
liquid swirls in black and red
frozen beneath a layer of lacquer
as thick as a ten pence piece

Joe presses
his palm against the window
and whistles softly

the Firebird sits mute
tethered by a security leash
caged behind a window grille

while Joe’s old strings
are free to sing

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