Six women poets “sing” the blues…

March 16th, 2023

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photo (cropped) by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

photo (cropped) by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress

Billie Holiday, c. 1947

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Musical Invocation

Strains of Charlie Parker’s alto sax fill
the empty apartment song-after-song –
“Dancing in the Dark,” “Loverman,”
“Embraceable You.”
Between every note I wish.
…………………………………..How I wish
I had held my heart open as the sea
with its gifts of dolphins dancing
from starboard-to-port, port-to-starboard,
slipping silently beneath our keel,
rising to smile on the Caribbean Sea,
your smile, your arms.
…………………………………..How I wish
I could dive deep across the threshold
between us.

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by Kathryn MacDonald

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Am I Blue?

It’s time to roam these streets
Shimmering with rain, the blues
All up and thru.
Sarah sang it better.
Nancy sang it better.
My singing only tolerable
Still good enough to proclaim:

pitter patter pitter patter
love is gone
so what can matter?

What once was sunny
Is now blue & cautionary

(“to thine own self be blue”

That’s my little adlib, sounding natural
To sing amidst these raindrops
And I’m not above it.

Rain-slicked streets, dark and desolate
And I’m not a stranger to it.

Sliding from caution,
To a foregone conclusion
Just call me: midnight blue

All lonely people have at least
One thing in common
And I’m ready
So ready

For my solo.

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by Connie Johnson

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Sinatra-Inspired

It may be no surprise to you that
I sit musing on my patio, having
Smoked cigarettes after breakfast
Like you used to, and recalling
Your wide-legged ‘50s trousers
And jazz music, now all gone

I remember your Sinatra-inspired
Singing in the shower, and how for
Months I had you Under My Skin,
But that’s over now – That’s Life!
(I’ve even gotten over it that when
You left, you called it My Way.)

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by Martha Patterson

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Sound of Sad, Smooth Jazz

Let me tell you about the girl above me
You know the girl in apartment #3
I hear her late at night, walking back and forth
Barefoot across the creaking wood floor
In the darkness of the shadows of the night
Full moon on this hot, long and lonesome night
I hear music coming through the open windows
Smooth, sad jazz, Billie Holiday “I’m a fool to want you”
I hear her crying, crystal rivers flow, seep through the crack in the ceiling
Dripping down upon my face
I catch hot salty tears in my mouth
And hear her walk and cry, walk and cry.

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by Elaine Croce Happnie

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I Want To Dance All Night

I want to slip on a pair of dancing shoes
so I can move to Jazz tunes or some Rhythm
and Blues, my feet sliding and hips moving
to Lee Morgan’s Gigolo or Dexter Gordon’s
Cheesecake, as I sensuously move like a snake
Wish I had a fella to twirl me around on
a ballroom floor until I can’t dance no more
his lips upon my ear whispering sweet nothings
making my face get red, my body hot
Those days have come and gone, my legs
now pained and stiff, I long to dance into
the wee hours of the morn like someone’s
sweet thing and memories they bring

………………..(originally published in Jerry Jazz Musician, Dec. 16, 2022)

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by Aurora M. Lewis

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Out From The Blue

Blue skies splashed white
to hide the horizon.
And then,
out of the blue,
you.
Taking me back
in that moment
to the sunshine
of the past.

So no blue moods
on this bright blue day
where the future is as hidden
as the horizon
together now,
for now.

And after all,
everything ends in tears
and loneliness,
so let’s take our now time
and chance the rest.

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by Lynn White

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Listen to the 1958 recording of Billie Holiday singing “I’m a Fool to Want You” [Okeh]

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Elaine Croce Happnie is a mixed media artist whose work has been shown in select solo and group exhibitions in New York, Boston, and Fort Myers, Florida. 

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Connie Johnson was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She began writing poems in 1976, but chose to pursue a career in music journalism. Since 2020, her focus has returned to poetry and her work has appeared or will be forthcoming in Iconoclast, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Mudfish and Exit 13.

 

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Aurora M. Lewis is a retiree, having worked in finance for 40 years. In her fifties she received a Certificate in Creative Writing-General Studies with Honors from UCLA. Aurora’s recent poems, short stories, and nonfiction were accepted by The Literary Hatchet, Jerry Jazz Musician, The Copperfield Review, and Gemini Magazine, to name a few. She self-published her first book, Jazz Poems, Reflections on a Broken Heart in 2021 and it is available on Amazon.

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photo by James Archbold

Kathryn MacDonald has published  in literary journals in Canada, the U.S., Ireland, and England, as well as in anthologies. Her poem “Duty / Deon” won   Arc Award of Awesomeness (shayne avec i grec, judge,  January 2021).  “Seduction” was shortlisted for the Freefall Annual Poetry Contest edited by Gary Barwin and was published in  (Fall 2020). She is the author of  A Breeze You Whisper: Poems and  Calla & Édodur (fiction). She is a member of the League of Canadian Poets.

 

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Martha Patterson’s short story collection Small Acts of Magic was published by Finishing Line Press in 2021. Other work has been published in more than 20 anthologies and journals, and her plays have been produced in 21 states and eight countries. She has two degrees in Theatre, from Mount Holyoke College and Emerson College, and lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She loves being surrounded by her books, radio, and laptop.

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Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. Click here to visit her website, and here for her Facebook page. 

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Click here  for information about how to submit your poetry

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One comments on “Six women poets “sing” the blues…”

  1. Six wonderful poems about the blues,
    blended seamlessly,
    and one hears the greats sing or play
    in each one.

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