Fattening Frogs For Snakes

Some Of These Days

for Jimbo Mathus

Roebuck Staples
of the Staples Singers
grew up in the Delta
playing the guitar. He says:

”I was raised
on the Will Dockery place
from the time I was 8
till I got to be 20 years old.

”Charley Patton
stayed on what we called
the lower Dockery place,
& we stayed on the upper Dockery.

”He was one of my great persons
that inspired me
to try to play guitar.
He was really a great man.

”At first, I was too small
to go hear him
on Saturday night,
but on Saturday afternoons

everybody would go into town
& those fellows like Charley Patton,
Robert Johnson & Howlin' Wolf
would be playin’ on the streets,

standin’ by the railroad tracks,
people pitchin’ ’em
nickels & dimes,
white & black people both. The train

came through town
maybe once that afternoon,
& when it was time,
everybody would gather around

just to see that train pull up.
They’d play around there,
before & after the train came,
& announce where they’d

be that night. And that’s where
the crowd would go.
They’d have a plank
nailed across the door

to the kitchen
& be sellin’ fish & chitlin’s,
with dancin’ in the front room,
gamblin’ in the side room, & maybe

2 or 3 gas or coal-oil lamps
on the mantelpiece
in front of the mirror—
powerful light. It was

different people’s houses,
no clubs or nothin’. And I
finally grew up to play.”

— Detroit
March 22, 1982/
New Orleans
May 27, 1997