Steamboat

The Captain throws a delta barrel roll.
His pipes are shot. But that’s how come they sound
like thunder under water, over ground.
The cigarettes and whiskey take their toll?
Well, twilight always opened for The Band.
He cracks the snare and shoots a come-on eye
across the audience. He’s apple pie
on Sunday as he counts off Dixieland.
The man has candy in his pocket, see.
A little toss. A midnight ramble stunt.
He’ll paddle those eclectic tambourines
upstream and shake the biggest hands down front.
His dance recalls the steamboat Reveille,
his song, the sunken light in New Orleans.

Levon Helm
Wellmont Theater, Montclair, NJ
February 11, 2011

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