TRICKED BY THE TORCH SINGER

(Dedicated to Billie Holiday)


She had a way in attacking words;
trumpet-like she thrived on
seeding soil, prohibiting the
halves of Savoy Hall to hear
her neither monk nor key;
note nor stone.

“Sweet rhythm captivates me, hot rhythm
stimulates me. Can’t help but swing
it girl; swing it, sisters, swing.”

Ballroom bowler-hat dancing moves and
trombone trips into the droopy
deserts of Basie’s drill-rig
battles.

They knew the rules in arranging chords;
servant-style they made up
meeky means, procurating
chants of Carnegie which
held neither life nor dear;
line nor loan.

“For the rain to gather, for the wind to
suck; for the sun to rot, for the trees
to drop; here’s a strange and bitter crop.”

Occupational household hazards and
working hours into the ordained
orchard of Eleanore’s overt
ordeal.

We get the point while absorbing shorts;
sitting back we speed her way
with worship, propitiating
yards of churly yawp to raise
her spirit none the less;
let alone…

“Fools rush in, so here I am:
very glad to be unhappy.”

Despite some dud and dreadful lies,
Fagan grew Holiday off-ice.

M.J.C.A. November 2004