Billie Pierce's Jazz Funeral
By Lee Meitzen Grue
"You can keep up to date
and learn all the new numbers
if you want to, but what the
like best is just a gang of good old blues."
Billie Pierce used to sing to me
when it was hot,
when I couldn't get sleep.
She sang Algiers Hoodoo
and Nobody Knows You When
You're Down and Out.
cornet curved around those long hard blues.
second-lined her to the St. Louis cemetery
with a bunch of school
holding hands for Billie dead.
The Olympia Brass Band
a bright skinned man
stiff-armed a derby
gimp-legged, but moving fine for Billie dead.
people taking pictures,
as if you could,
too many cars underfoot,
and in a long car, Billie dead.
It was a long way there and sad,
the music crying and us crying,
children needing a bathroom bad
we went while the music was down.
I never got to hear them
bringing it back happy for Billie dead
* * * *
French Quarter Poems, Long Measure Press, 1979