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Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue
by John McCluskey

wants only to play classical ways of
Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven,
but Curtis – Philly, perhaps Carnegie too,
whether prejudice or preference,
doesn’t think her particular hue
belongs with the masters,
so she skips circus tents,
every star in the sky,
starts right where she sits,
counts her fingertips,
what can she do
but throw Good King Yule in
behind every raindrop that falls.

Counterpoint calls once boardwalk City,
cursed Mississippi,
get Little Girl’s vocals to shudder and rage,
exhorting Brown Baby to live by the code,
walk freedom’s road, beyond strange
poplar trees. Blood on leaves, Bach Fugue in C,
Love Me or Leave Me
swirl in unbalanced Little Girl’s world,
disorders the tone of the ways of the wind,
and Wild is the Wind was Nina Simone

with voice that quivered to love her, and say you do,
while classical fingers contrapuntally flew
behind the sound of mandolins,
the kiss, the leaf, the cling, the touch.
Her cry for love and freedom’s clutch was
every glove that laid her down,
troubled waters beneath that sound.
The truth of Simon suits Simone,
Chopin in black
and silk
and soul.

Previously published on the web site Jerry Jazz Musician June 24, 2016.


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