Blues #3

(image is "Play For Me" by Ian Dooley)
At Susannha's, when they asked for "As Time Goes By,"
you gave them "St. James Infirmary Blues."
That's when I knew
Suss had chosen right.
You play as crisp as your white shirt 
and as blue as the river my brother never came out of
when he was just eleven.

I showed Suss his notebook
with the stories about stowing the teacher in a closet
and running down a dirt road in summer.
Suss said she liked his made-up world better,
kissed my cheek and whispered, "You're a dreamer, too."

When I slide my hand between your suspenders and white shirt,
you play "St. Louis Blues" when they want "Sweet Georgia Brown."
It's my fingers running through your hair,
and my breath on your cheek when it's Suss's you want.
Then you play "Smokestack Lightning" to break the moment.

Bobby, upstairs I've got
spray starch on the shelf,
raspberry jam on the table. 
Here, you've got Suss's picture instead of sheet music.
It's late, close the lid over the keys.
Come sleep on my couch again
and play "St. James Infirmary Blues" in your head.
I miss her as much as you, dear Bobby,
and wish it was me instead.

For Margaret's images at Real Toads.



Marian said…
Oh my goodness... Way to capture a scene and the myriad feelings from the moment, the ones that last a lifetime. Perfect.
The first stanza punched me with "as blue as the river" and why... and the rest is sublime.
When you described them asking for 'As Time Goes By' and him giving the 'St James Infirmary Blues' instead, I knew I'd chosen the right poem. And it just got better and better from there. Wonderful story told in a few haunting details. And the music clips have put me in heaven.
Kerry O'Connor said…
Your narrative style has always been one of my favourite things. You are very adept at leaving out information, allowing the reader to join the dots. These dots reveal a very sad story.
Margaret said…
Honestly, I am so thrilled my prompt inspired this poem - the starched shirt, the blue river your brother never came out of (gasp) (sigh), the photo instead of sheet music - the missing and whishing - Just WOW, Shay!
brudberg said…
I'm amazed at this... from the first line to the last, all the little stories only partly told. This is a poem that could be a whole novel... (and a playlist)
Ron. said…
Great; now I'll have the Infirmary playing in my head all day long. Thanks a bunch.
Sioux Roslawski said…
If this is all made up... Oh, mysweetlord.

The last 3 lines of the first stanza, and the last stanza--they're especially achingly beautiful.
Magaly Guerrero said…
The Blues are made of love and heartbreak and desire and beauty and... of poems like this, those that leave us gasping for things we didn't know we wanted and wondering if we want them just because we can't have (or because we need) something else. This reads like a favorite song.
Brendan said…
I'm with Kerry, the dots were priceless, merciless & true blue.
Susie Clevenger said…
Goodness, this makes me swoon. It is blues sung through poetry.
Sherry Blue Sky said…
"As Time Goes By" was my mom and dad's song,back in the day. I love the songs from their time. Sigh. This poem has stories in it that one wants more of. I love Susie's comment - blues through poetry. It is.
tonispencer said…
Spectacular fren. All of the bits of stories, the raveled ends knotted together. St. James Infirmary - a favorite dirge for funerals in Nawlins...I truly love this poem...blues and poetry make a beautiful song.
Carrie Van Horn said…
I feel as if i saw and experienced bits of a lifetime. You pulled me into a riveting dance and knew just what to not say to lead me onward! Sigh....amazing!!!!
Riveting! I was awed by the last line. I see a novel in the works!
grapeling said…
you know how to gut a person, delicate as lace ~
Maude Lynn said…
This is a stunner.