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For Bob Dylan

In cowboy boots you totter out to the microphone,
The fringes of your leather jacket swaying
And your leather trousers creaking and you stand

Like some aged rodeo star—tacky and bejewelled
Squinting in the glare from the stage-lights
And wait for the roadie to fix your leads;

And all the time you seem nervous and bewildered,
Your rounded shoulders hunched over, your fingers
Fiddling to fit the harmonica into its holder.

But then, before the roadie has withdrawn, you start
Straight in—your right hand strumming,
Your left hand forming chords and hammering on

And then, half reluctantly, your voice breaks in—
Its nasal-cigarette-cracked timbre straining
Each lengthened note to breaking point.

And then the harmonica’s high pitched wail
Rises over the crowd, haunting and piercing
And suddenly it seems that you have changed:

No longer stooped or hesitant or unnerved
But flowing and full-statured —welded now
To your song; tight and assured and in tune.






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