A Blues for Billie

A white gardenia blooms in summer dark 
for Billie
on the fortieth anniversary of her death
she’s crying again
in her black satin shoes
for the ashen-faced boys in Scranton, PA
the shiny black boys on a New York night
all callin’ Lady Day, the 52nd Street boys--all white

A white gardenia for a Northern belle
coaxing jazz into a smooth rough blues
thinking how I love
Good Morning Heartache
listening to Kenny Burrell
realizing he played that song for you
well, I love him too 
and it ain’t nobody’s business if we do

A white gardenia in your hair
always one step ahead of the band
never looking back 
as you fell behind the beat again
with your voice like happiness crying
everybody wanted you to take their time
their sweet summer time 

A white gardenia on a warm July night 

copyright EPG 7-17-99