I remember when Zimmerman passed you
on the way up to apartment 4D.
“Man, a hard rain’s a-gonna fall,” he said,
“I ain’t heard nobody sing it like you.”

We felt back then like we were almost gone,
like motherless children, long ways from home.
I’m crying now, Rich, I miss you so much.
Freedom’s another word for all to lose.

Pizza on the street, outside the Fillmore,
blowing smoke at the Why Not?, the Fat Cat,
retuning my axe, every time you played,
in open E, open D, what the fuh! đŸ™‚

’cause you had those funky fingers, my friend.

We sent boys away, like Handsome Johnny,
and back in the day at Max Yasgur’s place,
you brought it home Richie, minstrel from Gault.
You kicked it off, that long ago new age.

Songbirds in Bedford-Stuy mourn your passing.
With you gone, there’s one less Gospel Singer,
one less voice to recite what it was like,
back then, back there, a long, cold way from home.

© Carlos Chagall, April 23, 2013