Juke Joint Quadrille

Mural on the wall of the Victory Grill, a longtime “juke joint” on 11th Street in East Austin, a neighborhood of Austin, Texas. The Lyda Hill Texas Collection of Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.


Juke-joint jive—
blues rite in purpled night
as bodies sway, in freedom
from the toil of day—

listen to the guitar play
the riff, a midnight train’s goodbye
sigh away the years of strife–
hard-fought life, forgotten

as moon shines
from a mason jar.

We are celebrating dVerse’s Tenth Anniversary. Our special guest host, Brian Miller, has asked us to write a quadrille using the word juke, a word I’m sure I’ve never used in a poem before. I found this mural on Wikimedia Commons. You’re welcome, Resa. 😏

76 thoughts on “Juke Joint Quadrille

  1. i have had a few of those mason jars…hehe…not tonight, but…
    we are all looking for an escape at times. live music can so do that to me.
    i missed it so much during the pandemic. i am glad to see some opening up.
    unwinding to a guitar….sigh indeed.

  2. Oh that closing is absolutely stellar, Merril 😀 I love how effortlessly this poem flows. Happy Tenth dVerse Anniversary ❤️❤️

  3. This is excellent, Merril! Takes us right to the juke box joint….but, if I’m honest here, within a different “culture” from the bobby-sox, pony tail, white owned and frequented drive-in/eat-in joints I went to with my girlfriends to gqwk at boys or, if we were on a date with one of those high school boys, share a malted milk shake. We were so unaware (and privileged) in those days living in a white world…..I’m glad you’ve written this side of memories, and included the wonderful mural.

    • Thank you very much, Lillian. I didn’t experience either of those worlds, but as a historian, I’m always annoyed by “the good old days” romanticizing of eras. That mural is wonderful, isn’t it?

  4. Wonderful, Merril. One of those poems that makes me want more.
    I’m re-reading “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes. You poem reminded me.

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