Literature » Poetry

“Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue” — a poem (for Nina Simone) by John McCluskey




Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue

wants only to play classical ways of
Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven,
but Curtis – Philly, perhaps Carnegie too, whether prejudice or preference,
doesn’t think her particular hue
belongs with the masters, so she skips circus tents, every star in the sky,
starts right where she sits, counts her fingertips,
what can she do but throw Good King Yule in
behind every raindrop that falls.

Counterpoint calls once boardwalk City, goddam Mississippi,
get Little Girl’s vocals to shudder and rage,
exhorting Brown Baby to live by the code, walk freedom’s road, beyond strange
poplar trees. Blood on leaves, Bach Fugue in C, Love Me or Leave Me
swirl in unbalanced Little Girl’s world, disorders the tone of the ways of the wind, and Wild is the Wind was Nina

with voice that quivered love me love me love me say you do-o-o-o, while classical fingers contrapuntally flew behind
the sound of mandolins, the kiss, the leaf, the cling, the touch. Her cry for love and freedom’s clutch was every glove
that laid her down, troubled waters beneath that sound.
The truth of Simon suits Simone,
Chopin in black and silk and soul.






About John McCluskey
John McCluskey works in the IT industry and lives in Connecticut with his family.  He has had poetry, short fiction, and photography published in various literary journals and anthologies including Quill & Parchment, The Red Booth Review, Inkwell, Lullwater Review, The Dirty Goat, The Griffin, One For The Road, and Cradle Songs: an Anthology on Motherhood Poems. John’s poem “My Gray Child” from Cradle Songs was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and read at a poetry reading in Santa Fe by actor Tony Huston
Nina Simone performs “Mississippi Goddam”