He sings. Or calls.
He is born knowing how to sing.
To sing and to fly. He knows to leap from the branch
with faith. He holds a force
and keeps it. A driving force.
He knows it.
He belongs to it.
He makes it. Flying
he makes the sky. Singing
he makes the voice of God
the bird-catcher. On the branch
God now twitches
testing the newborn Spring
to the vault of
the flower. He prays.
He does it with colour.
He does it with light.
Black? Can’t you see?
Singer? Listen and you’ll see
Whore? Yes, I did that too
And I drink like four men
You don’t scare me, I’ve played in worse places than this
Southern cowboy bars where they spat on me
A city where a black man was lynched that same day
New Orleans where a fashionable devil
Brought me drug bouquets each night
Chicago I fell for a syphilitic trumpeter
And as I left the club they smashed my teeth
In the rain between one station and the next
Lady sings the blues
Black? Yes, but I’m used to it
Singer? Like a birdcage
Low and high notes, the whole range
I can flutter like those celluloid beauties
And then strike you with a ballad to the heart
You want strange fruit? You want midnight train?
I can sing it drunk
or with a knife in my back
or full of whisky and what else, I’m a saint
And my altar is here, this smoke, this stage
where lady sings the blues
Black? Yes, and beautiful, man
Singer? All I know how to do
Whore? Yeah, I did that too
And I drink like four men
Don’t touch me or I’ll rip that white face off you
Put down your drink, open what little heart you have
Shut up and listen – I sing
as though it was the last time
Shut up, bastards, and kneel
lady sings the blues
And as you go home say it
I heard an angel sing
wings of marble and satin
stench of whisky, sick black whore
Tell everyone my name, don’t forget
I am the ruler of a rag realm
I am the sun voice on the cottonfields
I am the black voice of light
I am the lady who sings the blues
Oh, and one more thing… I’m Billie
(Original Italian by Stefano Benni – Lady sings the blues)
A few solitary notes
as instruments are roused
from their slumber.
You invited us into your memories
and along a troubled road
littered with diffidence and pride.
But you promised we’d get through the night
as long as we trusted you, and listened.
So we sang with you and we walked with you
we danced with you and we rode the tiger.
We found new friends along the way
and seasons passed and changed.
We felt the warmth of homes and fires
of dust and sand and ash and wind.
We found god and remembered we don’t care.
You told us of drifting, and keeping too much in
so we cried with you, and loved with you,
and as you, loved again.
And as you ushered us back home,
we cheered you and smiled.
Leaving your fading memories
to other stages, and other crowds.
A few solitary words
just behind the bar.
Good part of the poem is inspired by the lyrics and/or titles of the Pain of Salvation, Anneke van Giersbergen and Árstíðir concert setlist in London, 15th April 2013.