listening to Billie Holiday

body and soul
that voice
brings back memories
of dark bars
Alvin swaying
John Woods’ eyes
closed to some thoughts
he could not escape
and Henry
and secrets
he cannot say
earlier we sat
with Julian pouring rye
into our steins
of draught beer
at the Blarney Stone
cornbeef and cabbage
upper west side
and that voice
haunting our dreams
where oh where
amid the ghosts
of days past
she is there
here
as night falls
and my glass
is filled
and refilled
death will come
to us all
but damn
her voice
keeps it at bay
and they can’t
take that
away
from me

the corner of 12th Street & 4th Avenue

I’ve been carrying this memory
for weeks now
ever since I walked past
your old building
on my way back
from The Strand
your long dark hair
the way you moved
on top of me
those nights
in my loft
crouching there
half Cherokee princess
doing a dance
later in The Village
hearing Tracy Nelson sing
that voice
shivers down my spine
and you swaying
eyes half closed
your hand in mine
and I thought
I should never
let you go
but foolish me
holding the world
in my hands
and letting it
slip away
even your painting
of sunflowers
lost over the years
all that’s left
this old address
an image
slipping in and out
of memory

listening to Miles

the wind blows
outside
Miles’ trumpet blows
inside
and I am back
in Frank’s
with Alvin and Henry
drinking after hours
the bar’s doors locked
and we regular patrons
on weekend nights
sit sipping our drinks
inside
and it’s there
Miles on the tape deck
Alvin does some scat singing
Henry’s babyface smile
and there at 18
I think I own the world
or at least
this small part of it
in The Village
at 3am
with my friends
scotch on the rocks
poetry in our hearts
and the night
will never end
at least not until
morning
which always comes
much too soon
much too often
then
and now
in a world that’s changed
and hasn’t changed
and Miles’ trumpet
haunts now
more than before
or maybe my ears
listen better
to wind
to trumpet
to the world
changing me