Introduction: What the Blues Is

Todd Hawkins

The blues is where it’s at. The blues is a big house. Blues players will often tell you the blues is about life—the good parts and the bad parts. The blues is about overcoming hard luck, ridding yourself of frustration, letting your hair down. Blues is easy to play, but hard to feel. The blues is all right.
I’m open for business in your neighborhood—the blues is my business, and business is good.
The blues is life and life is the blues. It covers from the first cry of a newborn to the last gasp of a dying man. It’s the very existence. The blues is the roots; everything else is the fruits. Some people think they’ve got religion; they’ve got the blues.
The blues is the only form of schizophrenia that has organized itself into being both legal and beneficial to society. The blues is what the blues doctor prescribes for people who have the blues.
The blues is a genre and musical form that originated in African-American communities in the “Deep South” of the United States around the end of the 19th century. The blues is a book of the life of Black people. The blues is like having to be black twice. It is like having to be black twice. The blues is my companion.

the blues is a passing bird
the blues is loose

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J. Todd Hawkins’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in AGNI, The American Literary Review, Bayou Magazine, The Louisville Review, Wisconsin Review, and elsewhere. His haiku and haiga were included in the anthology Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga (Dos Gatos Press, 2013). He holds a Master of Arts in Technical Communication and works as the managing editor for an educational publisher.

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