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When Rachel Sang the Blues

27 Nov Posted by in • Guest Writers | 6 comments
When Rachel Sang the Blues

The first time I saw Rachel she was singing the blues, she was outgrowling Eartha Kitt,
she was crooning full mouthed blue dirt and funk, a caterwaul strain like a siren.
The first time I saw Rachel she sang a case hardened lullaby, she was threading
the silvery eye of a needle. She was shooting an elegant low note straight from
the lip like only a junkie can.
The next time I saw Rachel it was Samhain Eve in the red light district, in the
democratic plague spotted war zone. She said, Trick or Treat, with her Botticelli
face, with her raven hair, she was a street corner angel with cloisonné skin.
She was getting the lay of the land, she was paying lip service, she was gilding
the poppy, she was trembling in the balance. She moved catlike downwind like a
hunter. She was dredging the depths of the Stygian creek, she was bleaching her
works, she was nodding out cold.
She rasped, Damnifido and damnifidon’, jus’ a no-good junkie ho’ loss her
voice. She coughed, O me, I’m aw right, chile. She slurred, I jus’ sink to ma
knees, don’ nevah kiss onna mouth. She was a faded cut flower in a vase
without water; she was beautiful, she was already dying.
The last time I saw Rachel she was sallow and halting. She was so thin she was
nearly invisible sideways. I saw a gathering of clouds, I saw three liver colored lesions.
She sang out, I kicked it, girlfriend! I did! Really, I did! She sang, I tried so hard
to escape the bitter taste of my life but I will face this last hurdle unburdened to
meet with my maker sweetly and squarely and zestfully clean.
The last time I saw Rachel she sang rhythmic blues, she sang up a new gospel,
she kissed me full on the mouth. She sang Swing Lo Triumphe! a pitch perfect
crystalline cry, she pierced the heavens with song, my brave sister Rachel, and I
never saw Rachel again.

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6 comments

  • torontokate says:

    Wallis Stern is one of the greats. She just is. Her poetry is timeless and riveting. It sings to you, caresses you, lashes out at you with each image, each word, leaving you breathless and in wonder.

  • poetnoise says:

    Wallis Stern has created an elegant, snazzy blue note of loss, that seethes in poetic disquietude. Each word moans with a musicality of its own, drawing the reader into the slow rhythm of Rachel’s world. The narrator’s learned language juxtaposes Rachel’s
    vernacular creating a dichotomy of jazz. Stern allows the reader to breathe within the tactile space of silence, which allows an interlude of reflection. “She was a faded cut flower in a vase without water; she was beautiful, she was already dying.” Stern takes her literary fist to the gut of the reader as the narrator observes Rachel’s descent into oblivion, and weaves a tactile memory embracing us all in the tragedy and beauty of “Rachel”.

  • Linda says:

    Wow, Wallis!

  • Lil heyden says:

    Bravo Wallis…You are an amazing talent.

  • shirley says:

    Wallis Stern does it again! “When Rachel Sang the Blues” leaves the reader peeping around street corners with their heads cocked to the side, listing and looking for the long gone Rachel “who was gliding the poppy,she was trembling in the balance.” Stern’s language strikes a discord of verbal staccato rhythm emphasizing Rachel’s growing alienation as she loses herself in her “caterwaul strain like siren” in the night. The reader is touched and left alone, like Rachel, in the night waiting for something more. Beautiful and creative work!

  • Wallis Stern says:

    Wow! Is that what I did? And to think that I’ve been so clueless for so long LOL!
    Truly, I just write and whatever comes out…comes out. And I try not to intellectualize the feelings I convey because I’d probably only end up editing them away.
    I may have lost the rest of my audience but the five of you are powerful and you move me beyond words.
    Thank you so much for reading me…and especially for taking the time to leave such thought-provoking comments!
    I guess I won’t quit just yet. With such blazing literary scholarship in attendance I would never want to let you down!
    Please do stay tuned for my “Holiday” contribution to EPOCHALIPS, titled MEMORIAL CANDLES: A HOLIDAY STORY.
    If I manage to touch even one soul it will be worth it to me.
    I don’t know who all of you are but I welcome your FBFriendship and you have my gratitude and humble thanks. And my love.
    Thank you so much,
    WS