“King Bolden” — a poem by Aurora Lewis

February 22nd, 2019

 

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King Bolden

Storyville a bit of hell in the city of Saints
Piano men played ragtime and honky-tonk
It was there Buddy Bolden with his cornet
from the bandstand watched belly rubs
greasy heads, and roaming hands

He made it up as he played his tunes
mixing ragtime, honky-tonk, gospel, blues
giving them something new, they say
he was the first man of jazz they
called King

From Sunday worship to Saturday
night sin, causing musicians in
Storyville want to play with him
rocking the joint from sun then up

Chippies at his beck and call held
his coat, his hat, so they wouldn’t fall
They could never hold his cornet
How could he trust his horn to a whore
It was the only part of him he kept

All that fucking, drinking, raising hell
made Buddy lose his damn mind
at twenty-one, they pulled him
from his throne, barely grown

The county asylum, his new home
There till he was 54, then died
His unmarked grave lost with time
None of his recordings left behind

No lasting testament except tales told
over gin, cards, and memories passed
down by another King, Oliver
and that cat Satchmo, speaking on
the genius that was King Bolden
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by Aurora Lewis

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Aurora M. Lewis is a retiree. In her 50’s she received a Certificate in Creative Writing-General Studies, with honors from UCLA. Her poems, short stories, and nonfiction have been accepted by.The Literary Hatchet, Gemini Magazine, Persimmon Tree, Jerry Jazz Musician, and The Blue Nib, to name only a few.   Aurora’s poetry was nominated by Gemini Magazine in 2010 for Best of the Net and a Pushcart Prize in 2011. The Literary Hatchet has nominated her for the current Pushcart Prize.

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4 comments on ““King Bolden” — a poem by Aurora Lewis”

  1. Aurora-

    What beautiful lines! “How could he trust his horn to a whore/It was the only part of him he kept” and “His unmarked grave lost with time/None of his recordings left behind” – I love it. Words like musical notes. The way it should be. Great work.

    John

  2. Aurora: Being a trumpet player, I went for this poem, it really “worked.” Really great images and words that brought Storyville and blues/jazz of this age to the reader. It’s odd I have never heard of Bolden.
    Did he play before Oliver and Satch? Or did he even play with them? Best, Alan.

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