I only have eyes for you

7 syllables per line

a corner bar smoky drink
reminding me of ‘Gaslight’
hard-liquor evenings catching
Dave Van Ronk, Richie Havens,
but this ain’t Greenwich Village
it ain’t nineteen seventy

a classy five-piece ripping
a re-cooked Coltrane classic
from ‘My Favorite Things’ the
soloist is pretty good

the bar guy is watching me
I mouth, ‘a double… no ice’
he nods – he pours another

a singer hobbles onstage
heavy on a walking stick
takes her place behind the mic

the jazz backing stands ready
she snaps her fingers, ‘three four’
the band clambakes a smoking
‘I only have eyes for you’

her reedy vocals grip me
pain-cracked, faltering, haunting,
she sounds like broken Billie
putting out her happy face…

but this is England, on a
drab Dalston weekday evening.
two thousand and seventeen
no one listening but me

the set closes. I buy drinks
ask how she can stand to sing
when she carries so much pain?

her double goes down in one
the barman pours another
she drinks, she shrugs, she coughs, grunts,
‘worse when you’re crippled inside.’

© coolhermit 2020
Views: 391
critique and comments welcome.
Subscribe
Notify of
11 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Guajiros
1 month ago

This paints a vivid picture reminds me of a place my neighbour took me to see Phil Seaman long ago
My neighbour was his friend making sure Phil pulled himself out of a heroin haze and went to play otherwise he would lose the only place left that booked him
I once wrote a story about an ageing jazz musician dying on stage but it’s not any point posting anything written in paragraphs rather than stanzas on here.
This poem could be the basis of a great short story actually

Guajiros
1 month ago
Reply to  coolhermit

Yes it’s a good idea to get a non writer to glance over work providing you don’t mind being embarrassed
I think your Grim friend was right it’s better But I wonder if she might not just tell you to f*** off 🙂 or just smile down her drink and stagger off with the words “thanks for the whiskey” … in other words f*** off 😉

Never made it to Ronnie’s place
Phil Seaman died a couple of years after we saw him

Guajiros
1 month ago
Reply to  coolhermit

Did you misunderstand me? I was referring to what the singer might reply in your poem. I’m sure your friend in Grimsby is very polite.

It’s always a problem, when you can think of so many ways to end a good poem or story. It’s the same when I paint (not often these days) you’re never sure when to put the brush down.

Littleditty
1 month ago

From Greenwich Village to Dalston…50 years, and back then might just be nostalgia , Greenwich Village had something going on. And now? My uncle set up shop in 1968? I believe, closed down last year – I wonder, if it is less than it was, not just for me -his place was amazing…prob not as glum as 2017 Dalston. I wonder why used the word cripple and not broken…as broken was used and felt before and seems fine?

Littleditty
1 month ago
Reply to  littleditty

oH! der! My apologies! I’ve been locked in a spreadsheet for days and der. Ignore last comment -I read again!

Littleditty
1 month ago
Reply to  coolhermit

I hope unbaffled now sorry! I need a rest! I liked the poem!

Flag Content