Every American Child

will be issued a blues harmonica at birth

and will be taught to bend the notes because

the notes are for bending. And no American child

will close his harmonica up in a harmonica case

but will keep it open, in a pocket, all his life

so that any lost, scattered, fallen, foreign thing,

be it lint, pollen, tobacco, sleet or spiders,

may enter through the holes and take up residence.

And every American child will know how to dis-

assemble and assemble his blues harmonica

without assistance or prompts, unscrewing the tiny

bolts with his own fingernail, and without losing

them or the tinier serrated square nuts,

remove the metal flanges and inspect

each delicate reed by plucking it with the same

fingernail till it rings true. And every American

child will be required to carry his blues harmonica

with him on his person at all times

and to produce it when asked for identification

with the blues. And every American child will

be required to learn by heart the history of the blues

because the history of the blues is an American

story, which some American grownups can’t be trusted
to tell, much less sing, to their American children.

 

 

 

                                                                                    Paul Hostovsky