LIVING THE BLUES
Her voice shredded, turned to gravel
by cigarettes and whiskey, she navigates
grocery aisles and checkout lines
as sotto voce she sings old songs
both jazz and country. People stare
in amazement as her ruined voice
elicits tears from listening bystanders.
In her living room she croons with records
of Billie Holiday, Peggy Lee, and Patsy Cline.
If you ask her, she will tell you that she used
to sing in bars and an occasional night club,
but no one will hire her any more
because she got into too damned many fights
with customers, bartenders, and piano players.
Damn the booze she will mutter, but then
she’ll tell any listener that she loves whiskey
better than any man, any place, anything
except music. And she will launch into
an old blues tune from the thirties
and slow dance round the room, glass
in hand, oblivious to one and all.
Michael L. Newell is a retired secondary school English/Theatre teacher who currently lives on the south-central Oregon coast. He has had poems recently published in (among other places) Verse-Virtual, Culture Counter, The Iconoclast, Ship of Fools, and Red Eft Review.