Kings River Blues (Part One)

By Jackie Joice
from her book Green Grapes Black Hands

This poem isn’t about sunsets and sunrise

or landscapes and otherwise.

It’s about the blood of grapes and hard

labor, sweat, and bone in scorching fields,

accompanied by cheap wages for picking

pounds and pounds of cotton and grapes.

Wine grapes that were processed with

mechanical feet,


It’s about blood-speckled white afro puffs

being picked for Rodeo Drive clothing


It’s about white afro puffs being picked to

the hymns of harmonicas bought in Texas

for twenty-five cents.

It’s about whore rates for seamstresses

working twelve hours straight,

blood from Dust Bowl survivors.





like cattle packed in tents with grit.

It’s solely about the perspective of a


city chick to country parents,

but not country like down in the Mississippi

Delta country,

but Central California country.

This poem is no click of your boots to the

Midwest type of Oz.

This poem is about the heartland of


about bodies in fields, picking green grapes

with black hands.

I siphon whiskey from these grapes,

and now I am drunk with

the Kings River Blues.


  1. Perfect from beginning to end. Gritty and graceful in its expression of pain, outrage, and suffering. Eloquent!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: