My father was an addict;
spent winter evenings
listening to black women wailing
about men who fled strange fruit,
swinging in Mississippi sunsets,
rode freight cars north to Chicago and Detroit.
Saxophones would tremble loneliness,
pianos syncopate the pain of desertion.
I’d complain about fractured silence,
lurid assaults on fireside silence;
interruptions to lyrical accounts of
medieval knights, frontier settlers and well-versed missionaries.
It took another three decades for me to understand
why Billie wept,
what Ella was longing for
and that betrayal stings like razor wire.
Not even a well-poised martini in a smoke wreathed bar
Can hide that from me now!

John Collard

© John Collard 2014, all rights reserved.

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