Friday, January 25, 2008

Upside-Down Blues Cake

A cowboy stood outside the bar in the cold, not wanting to pay the cover charge, just wanting to hear that weeping Jeremiah pick the rest of a twelve-bar out of that Stratocaster. Just wanting to hear Gospel according to a Marshall amplifier.

I travel the blue pilgrim road of a junk driver, praying and hoping the car home. Muddy Waters pour out of the gaps in the radio static, and I look into the face of the hooker I pass up near Mario's on North Broadway. It's far too cold to be running a gig like that tonight, my dear, I think. But she attempts a smile and a twirl of her platinum hair. It's the same smile I've been attempting all night, plugging coffee to every SUV that rumbles up to the drive-thru speaker.

There is no shortage of attempts in the mix. Attempts at boldness. Attempts at love. Attempts at wisdom. It's like I was reading the dinner menu only to find out it was the New Testament, and the minor prophets were cooking in the kitchen behind closed doors. The whole world is quite upside-down. Every time I look somebody in the eye, I see the face of God, the Holy Ghost staring back at me in the rush of soul-nakedness you get when you really look at somebody. My usual response is to wall myself up and stare the person down, or to look away because I am overwhelmed. But boldness is keeping that unspoken conversation going - not looking judgmentally, but letting them in the door. Perfect love drives out fear.

Love is boldness? This makes no sense. I've run a gig of my own on Madison Avenue long enough to know that Love is an expensive fragrance, and Boldness is a disguise for outlandishly bad painting. This, plus wisdom is a silent listener and not a self-help book? What kind of world have we been living in all this time?

And then you say something really topsy-turvy like...

       Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.


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