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

June 24th, 2016

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
Simone

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”

 

Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In this Issue

“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings by six artists -- Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano. Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian, and Aaron Burnett

Short Fiction

"Crossing the Ribbon" by Linnea Kellar is the winning story of the 51st Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute to the Summer, 2019 collection of jazz poetry reflecting an array of energy, emotion and improvisation

“What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?”

Dianne Reeves, Nate Chinen, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Eliane Elias and Ashley Kahn are among the 12 writers, musicians, and music executives who list and write about their favorite Blue Note albums

Pressed for All Time

In an excerpt from his book Pressed for All Time, Michael Jarrett interviews producer John Snyder about the experience of working with Ornette Coleman at the time of his 1977 album Dancing in Your Head

Art

“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — a continuing series

Poetry

Poetry by John Stupp and Michael L. Newell

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams.

Interviews

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, discusses her late husband’s complex, fascinating life.

Short Fiction

“A Viennese Tale,” a story by Matias Travieso-Diaz, was a finalist in our recently concluded 51st Short Fiction Contest.

In the previous issue

Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...

Coming Soon

An interview with Nate Chinen, director of editorial content at WBGO Radio, former New York Times jazz writer, and the author of Playing Changes: Jazz in the New Century.

Contributing writers

Site Archive