FOR COUNT BASIE
On this day, your birthday, I want
to celebrate, although you passed last
century. I crave some birthday cake,
so I put on “One O’clock Jump”
one more time to soothe my soul, allow
your fingers to loosen my tight, sore
muscles that have taken hold, the ones
that won’t allow me to walk right,
much less jump. And when I feel
like broken glass cuts into my skin,
I lie on my bed, turn on your tunes,
wait for you to step into my room.
You are welcome here anytime.
Not just your birthday.
You take my pain away more than
pills that kill my ability to write.
I know who you really are.
You are Doctor Basie.
THE NIGHT I DROVE THE BLUES OUT
Lying in the dark at four in the morning,
listening to the cold lonesome wind
howling in my ears, I toss, turn,
stomach burns, back hurts.
A branch rakes the roof,
bits of shingles break loose.
Rotting wood weeps, gives way.
from the ceiling,
soaking my bed
with Robert Johnson’s blues,
fresh from the crossroads,
followed closely by a devil-dog
wanting to devour my soul.
I throw aside my nightgown,
turn on the light,
wash my hair,
listen to Billie Holiday’s
What a Little Moonlight Can Do.
MY BLUESY JAZZY DAYS
Every day I have the blues.
All blues. Today
I woke in my solitude,
said good morning heartache.
The weatherman said stars fell
on Alabama last night.
I sang amazing grace, promised
to follow the sun, and I ain’t
misbehavin’. Africa is shining
in the sun, and this is my
shining hour. How high
the moon. I’ve got the world
on a string.