I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with the “crossroads” stories, from the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, who sold his soul at the crossroads in exchange for being able to play the blues.
The demons hessian sack
He’ll reach into your heart
find all those pieces
torn apart and bring em back.
The good and the bad
battling for the surface.
Heat like a furnace.
He’ll probe your mind
with his molten fingers of brimstone
digging for that touch.
That touch to take you to hell.
As he ignores your tearful yell.
But its what you wanted.
You stood at the crossroads
trembling and hopeful.
As you bury your box in the gravel.
He’ll smash your brain to bits
with his unholy gavel.
There’s no coming back
he’s got you in his hessian sack.
He’s a god and a demon.
He’s good and bad.
Evil and fair as you tremble there.
The hounds howl into the night,
smelling blood and a fight.
He’ll take you in his arms
And hold you tight.
Its time to stop give up the fight.
as your dragged crying into the night.
He laughs at your tears,
cause he’s a god and a demon
and he’s caught you coming back.
As he feeds you bile and all that’s vile,
He laughs at your pain.
In his hessian sack.
He’s a god and a demon
and there aint no going back.
Your heart in his fiery hand
you gotto know there’s no coming back.
From the crossroads and across the track.
You sold your soul in blood
fightings no good,
And he’s got you in his hessian sack.
He’s a god and demon
And you aint never coming back.
Yes, this works for me; it is the image of the hessian sack that anchors it. And Robert Johnson? Did he really sell his soul to the devil on that crossroad – whatever, he was certainly one of the greatest guitarists. While I was first reading this we had BBC R4 Women’s Hour on, and the subject was violence against women – how unprotected they are in the courts and by local government housing – I should know, I worked in that myself. Again, a fine poem.
Thanks for your reply Dodgem. Yes he told people quite openly that’s what he did. Before he disappeared for two weeks they were reluctant to even let him on the stage at the Juke joints he was that bad, then hey presto he was the best around. He often references the devil and the crossroads in the one album he cut before dying, maybe poisoned at twenty-seven years, he was the first of the twenty-seven club. Either way its a rich source of contemplation and he was the best!
There is, I’m sure, a Robert Johnson character, in the film: O Brother Where Art Thou; still one of my favourite movies.
Another joyous poem. That man Johnson was definitely talented – and the story is one of mystery.
Thanks bhi. Without Johnson we’d have a massive gap in our music, even todays contemporary music. The Stones, all the great Bluesmen…. The story is really interesting, the consensus seems to be he was poisoned by the husband of one of his many lovers. I love the Blues, especially the old Bluesmen. and women.