04 November 2011

The Denunciation of Ricky Skaggs From On High by Steve Scafidi

Originally published in The Oxford American Magazine twelfth annual music issue. 
I pity the fool that does not subscribe.

The Denunciation 
of Ricky Skaggs 
From On High
by Steve Scafidi

No more light strumming of your mandolin
and the whispered tone and the sap-
happy featherweight songs in my honor.

Ricky, no more treacly bullshit. I actually
rose up from the dead. Do you understand
what that means exactly? A God. A mother-

trucking god is who you are singing to. Did 
Zeus get tickled with a zither and prance
on his tippy-toes like a little girl from outer

space? No. Did my Father get weepy little
valentines and thank-you notes for nothing
but pain and suffering for a thousand years?

He got hollering and screams and fists raised
at the sky. He got rockabilly eventually and
heavy metal and thrash. Listen to Bill Monroe.

He won't just kiss my ass. Ricky you have
suffered in your life enough to know better
than to sing that stuff. It pains me to hear it.

Stick to what hurts most and mean it. Cut open
something valuable and bleed it. Hang it
upside down in your yard and let it drain.

into the grass. My god Ricky I might have to
come down there and show you what I mean.
Don't make me. I got eyes like laser beams

and a voice like Ralph Stanley but deeper
down darker. No more sweetness Ricky.
You are not a bee. There is a broken down

burning house inside the soul and someone
in the window waves. It is me. Dammit
Ricky, do something. Sing something true

the way you used to. Heaven is not a given.
make a ladder of what happens to actually
matter to you-blood, strings, and the ear.

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