Chuck Berry – American Poet

I was talking about Chuck Berry’s poetry recently to someone recently, who laughed and asked, “Poetry? Really?”

For those of who associate 50’s poetry solely with the Beat poets like Ginsberg and Ferlingetti, I say, open your mind. No one supasses Chuck for the poetry of sexual, political and racial freedom.   If ever there was a man, to quote Bob Dylan, who “danced beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free,” it was Chuck. He bolted through life with his eyes wide open, expecting to be cheated (as he often was), daring the authorities to stop him from living his life as a free man.  He paid the price with three prison terms, none of which broke him.  Like O’Henry, he wasn’t the first poet to make mistakes.  A great humorist, story teller and poet of the open road in the tradition of Mark Twain, Robert Service and Jack Kerouac, Chuck served his poetry straight-up.

Before reading Chuck’s lyrics as poetry, I suggest you put away your prejudices – all of them – and see the film Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll. Then read  Chuck Berry: The Autobiography, do so as soon as possible.

From the new time travel manuscript

Sea Battle

With Sophie sleeping comfortably, Erin decided to venture above for the first time since the battle. The deck was bathed in bright, tropical sunlight. The Mansions of Night was on a port tack heading west south-west several hundred yards behind Velocity.

Erin found Mera at the stern rail watching a lone British frigate following from halfway to the horizon.

“That’s Insuperable,” Mera said solemnly. “She was on our heels when we left Sugar Bowl Bay. We’ve put three miles on her since.”

“I’m surprised your mom doesn’t join with Velocity and attack. It’s two to one.”

“Mother thinks Triumph and Lucy B are just over the rim, or they wouldn’t risk stalking us. Lucy B has jib damage and Triumph is holed below the water line. When they’ve made repairs, they’ll likely start closing on us. They’ve more sail than our ships.”

Erin stared across the heaving sea imagining the three frigates drawing closer every day until their twenty-four pound “bruisers”, as Jennie called the British cannons, could “punch us through at thousand yards.” Nell and Darkrunner would certainly turn and attack, as they had before. But there would be no surprise this time. Just smashing long shots followed by a broadside brawl which Jenny didn’t believe the pirate ships could long stand.

“Don’t fret too much,” Mera said watching Erin’s face. “We’ve still got the best captains on the Deep Blue Sea.”

Erin tried her best to smile, but couldn’t help but worry at the odds.

[Thanks to Chris Hunt for providing reference to image:  Battle of Quiberon Bay: the Day After (Richard Wright 1760)]