The Living Is Good

by Athena

Sing sweetly blues singer
Dressed in black
Darkstar she calls herself
She sings full bodied moans to a small crowd
Against the background music of gunshots and armed men 
screaming for everyone to stay down
Against the coughs and tears of those maced 
because they were too close to the action
She sits perched on her stool
Microphone grasped in French manicured hands
Hot/sticky air at a standstill around her
Audience making church fans of paper 
Whisking the air to create a breeze

Sing sweetly blues singer
Balancing on a rickety stage
Her band thump thumping
Pumping bass chords behind her
She sings “Summertime” like Clara in Porgy and Bess
‘bout the livin’ bein’ easy
but the young boys in this heat are restless 
and they are fighting each other and themselves
Her next song is “Killer Joe” and it hits a little too close to home
She keeps singing 
Tapping the tambourine against the outside of an ample thigh
Passersby wander in and through her show
Walking quickly to remove themselves from in front of her
Or hanging on the edges swaying in their own time with the music
My fan beats the air with the rhythm of her song
It is too hot to move
So she sits and sings her song

Sing sweetly blues singer
She raises her voice high
Making it carry up and over the screams of teenaged girls 
chasing a shiny Hummer for a chance 
to touch the skin of the latest R&B sensation
She sings louder to drown out the security 
yelling for everyone to back away from the vehicle
She keeps her notes spilling forth when the handcuffed young man 
with the bloodied mouth escapes from police into the night
While the hour passes until the ambulance can pull 
through the throng of people and deliver the injured to safety
She sings as the disembodied announcer tells everyone 
to return the next morning for church service
She looks to see black faces shaded by red and blue sirens 
Some colored with violence
Ready to do war with those who look just like them 
Over a scuffed shoe
A wandering eye
An accidental bump with no apology

Sing sweetly blues singer
She keeps singing 
Keeps singing for two days to keep the peace
To offer a distraction to the heat
To the feel of too many bodies crammed into limited space
To overpriced food and drink
Sings so that they many notice the beauty around them
She sings “Respect Yourself” and hopes they understand the words
That they will take them to heart and follow the instructions
That when they exit the gates back into their own lives melodies live on inside them
And they don’t know why but they are at peace
Sing sweetly blues singer…

The Living Is Good by Athena

© Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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