Before ‘Hey Joe’

The colour red, it’s all he can see, a relentless flash of psychedelic ignition.
Refusal strikes his loin, and he trembles, bent over at the thought of it.
Past and present conjoin sickeningly, and in a seething ire, he snatches the gun off the table.

Pacing furiously, each foot kicking the floor in a striking of the match of turmoil,
Joe dances an unintentional bossa nova.
Each incensed breath is an electrifying strum of a broken guitar,
And as Joe whirls through the tunes his wounds offer him,
He jams his strings with bare fingers in surrendering precision.
And yet he finds it! Yes, the miraculous pick of hope.
He hurls the gun in a desperately declarative voilà.

The music changes tone, and Joe wakes, listening.
It’s instrumental, it’s complicated, and, of course, it’s her song.
Bloodshot, his eyes swivel in a despairing frenzy, searching for it,
And when his eyes land on what it is he seeks,
He rises, remembering.

Treading lightly, slowly, almost grudgingly,
Joe reaches it, certainly faster in his head than in actuality.
The notes blare out seductively, a tango of desire received devouringly,
And no doubt, his hands grip its waist line wistfully.

He holds it at arm’s length,
But oh its painful, god, her strength.
A plea for mercy,
But she’s painting him the culprit, Circe.

Sweet insomnia, so cloying that he grins unreservedly while griping it tightly through the night,
So much so that the rising sun is hardly saccharine when he thrillingly blasts it through her gown.
Wait! There’s knowing Hendrix, standing awfully mystical and bright,
Chorusing, “Hey Joe, I heard you shot your woman down.”[1]
But Joe’s running with the wolves, he’s taken flight,
The possession, it’s gone, though he can’t stop now, for conscience will cause him to drown.

[1] Hendrix, J. (1967). Hey Joe. Reprise Records: Chas Chandler. Available at:

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