Where Bluegrass Comes From

This entry is part 30 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems


A road travelled every day
soon comes unhitched from the horizon.
You can switch roads or you can dance in place.

The fiddle player says:
I like to stare out the car window
& dream about staying put & growing roots.
You can dance in place or you can jam.

The banjo player says:
I never learn the tune as a whole, only its parts.
I remember the one little thing that’s different
& the rest takes care of itself.
You just keep jamming until something jells.


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  1. Well this is one that sticks in the mind like a burr! I love the sense of a kind of folk wisdom in it. It feels as though it was made a long time ago. Moreover, when I read it I hear your voice, which makes me smile a lot. And dance…


    1. Glad you found it so memorable! I went to a multi-day bluegrass festival with my banjo-playing cousin and his family last weekend, so that’s the immediate background. The first two sentences I ascribe to the banjo player are in fact pretty close to what I overheard in a workshop for banjo players on Saturday. But I was influenced also by some video footage I shot yesterday morning of a beetle on a blade of grass, which I may still turn into a videopoem for this.


    1. Why not? It’s the kind of line that wouldn’t be out of place in a bluegrass or country song.


  2. The whole effect to me is one of grape stomping. To music. Delightful.


    1. Thanks. I am attempting to upload a video (and will share it here this evening, thunderstorms permitting). But alas, I have no footage of grape stomping to put in it.


    1. Hey, glad you liked! I know you’re kind of a skeptic about this videopoetry thing.


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