Poetry of Dr. Brad McDuffie

Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Sparrow's Song

And the waters are rising again beyond Penn’s
Store.  The Rolling Fork’s flooding in blue
grass and on a make-shift stage we hear Berry’s
Timbered Choir, the Sabbath day hymns
he wrote walking his ploughshares in ‘ol Caintuck.

Listen, Mother, even on the road beyond the blues,
In the bottoms of the swells, the light is still
Singing hallelujah beyond the gray
On some mountain ledge.

God’s voice, when it’s heard,
Is the breath of your first child
In the night; it’s the last words
Your father said.  And sometimes the blues

Is just a sparrow’s song given back to the sky
like some seed on some wind blown mean
beyond Hudson’s Black Creek, past springs
in Kentucky where song was sieve for floods.
And there was a small girl wearing a shirt that said “Jesus Saves”
standing in a mud-puddle out beyond the porch
singing along with you to “Barbara Allen.”



Staining the Adirondack Chairs in Late July

My children are spondees
running through the fresh cuts
of our front lawn.  As July sets
with the sun, I am on one knee
staining the Adirondack chairs
under the oak tree, just off Phillies Bridge.
The days are endless with summer,
but thunder clouds line up beyond Shawangunk,
a horizon of shadows beyond the Catskills.
Switching knees, I stain all visible
angles.  Glossing a strangers initials
knifed into the wood, their voices call
as those in in day-dreams, bewaring the distant rumbles.
Rain and fumes mince black clouds with westwinds




For Jonah


My Son, know the names of rivers
and the names of birds

Study the ledgers

And know that stone is only stone
When you pray at your grandfather’s grave.

Your given history there is a surname for time


In your middle insomnia
Lying alone in the night's dark—
A cross between awake and dreaming—
Walk the lengths of the rivers
We once fished
Where the springs of Aleph ran
Down to the sea below the sun—
And watch where the water pools
Beyond the stones
There in the marrow
Where the river once told us its name


When I was still a boy, having fished all day
I travelled with the Preacher through a pass
High in the Sierra Nevadas.

And still dreaming of the Truckee's waterways
And the rainbow trout dazzling
In the sun when it broke through the surface

Watched as we descended into the valley
Wondering at the lights laid low
And how the billion, billion light years
Bore down on us from above.
There in the night, tracing constellations
With my hand through the glass
I was certain that one day I might
Know their names by heart.