Mustang Sally Pays Her Debt to Wilson Pickett

This is a poem that evoked different conversations in each of my writing classes.  I chose it for the third stanza where Mustang Sally speaks to Marta the poet.  What do you think? Who are the different voices in the poem?

Does the song evoke anything from your life per the artists:  Aretha Franklin, Sir Mack Rice, or Wilson Pickett?  What about appropriation?  Are you sensitive to it?  From which view?

Or just enjoy the poem, it’s wonderful. Don’t miss a word of it.

Mustang Sally Pays Her Debt to Wilson Pickett                                           Marta Boswell

Aretha Franklin named me.

She heard Sir Mack Rice stir into

a Blue Rock records track he called

Mustang Mama until she told him

Sally sounded better when he wailed.


Mom says the winter I was born,

well, before that, I kicked

every time it hit the radio.

Says that’s how she knew my name.

Not that the birth certificate says

Mustang, but all the same, that’s me.


Yeah, I know. Little white girl

With a name like mine, somebody’s

gonna bitch about appropriation,

that hitch, one bunch of us

snitching something from another,

busting it to fit an awkward hole

in what we’ve got. That’s anyway,

what Marta thought last time we talked.


What I’m thinking’s mostly

that I ought to say thank you

and give credit where it’s due.

Sir Mack Rice? Pickett’s mentor.

Recorded it in sixty-four.


See, even Wilson got it secondhand

from somebody who knew better.


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