‘You gotta be what you want,’ that’s what they say,
‘You gotta be what we want,’ that’s what they mean
and, brother and sister, they can be mean.

But we can’t all be compliant in complacency, we can’t
all be kept compartmentalised into your conditions,
I have my own conditions. Cotton Avenue has come a calling
with its shiny beat on a changing street and this is the just
the latest edition, fresh off the press and it’s less and less
of before and more and more of more.

So come see me, if you feel it, in the morning light
when I’m musing bright and rough and ripe for the fight
but that reflection will have taken flight by the evening light
when I’m straddling the moonlight naked by your bedight,
twisting temporary between thighs so tight that make us feel so right.

Originality’s been ostracised without being obvious, like wolves
now wet as pets, fractured and folded into fickle formulas
customers can get their claws into, accentuated with sugar
to sooth the jaws into silently submissive but still we can salivate.
But you were always looking for the other side of obvious,
breaking down the fences, flipping the B Side to the A side.
They felt you fitted into folk, at first, fragile filigree as a woman
should be, caressing concerns of the passing of casual companions,
the woman’s champion you never wanted to be and so you grew listless
within the laurel and the labels, and turned from the men’s measuring
tables that pulled down from up and turned to rocking restless,
seeking out a new way to swing, but you swayed so far from
their familiar so they dared to deny you, wanted to tie you up
in your old strings of sorrows and musings from the midways.

You had leapt electric and they stood stoic; confused in what they
considered too eclectic. Jazz, like poetry, is the puzzle rarely pondered
by the populous! They hated your hissing as if you were pissing
in your own park and couldn’t pardon Don Juan from this darkened
daughter who was merely looking forward to see what was to follow.
‘Stay true’, they say to me and you, but through to who? Wild things
run free, you cannot cage creation even as breeders of a nation without
a notion of what’s possible in lieu of the lie that’s much more popular.
I turn to the TV in the impermanent ‘pop-up’ plot by the parking lot
and tune in to see tales twist and spin as CNN flies with fears
and fragility in France, where terror has taken over tourism
while I’ve been in the park in Paris with Parisians still proudly
playing in their paradise. Terror, Trumpers, is tapping on your toes,
a cannonball of chaos careering through your school halls,
and your gun clubs and the bold bravado of your right to a riffle
like life was a raffle. France has fallen to foreign fears and we feel
the tears burning and the eyes watching as metros keep moving
cause commuters have commitments but in your homeland,
in that brave land, Americans are killed more by their own hand
than by any other hand and still you stand and sing
‘land of the free’, ‘home of the brave’. ‘
Political is now popular but god forbid if you try to popularise
being political. Remember; we all have our positions people.

France is fool to its own folly, as the cast-outs camp out
in cardboard boxes they’ve crashed into, hoping for help
and hand outs from the common men because the political ones
are busy building domes of duplicated documents
they’ve demanded you deliver even though they are decades old,
documents that are difficult to keep track of when your home was hit,
your city in shreds and you ran for refuge.
Ireland, oh Ireland, it’s a long long way from home,
not sure I can still drink a crate of you but happy I am
to dream you from the distance, to reminisce of your better days
you are now getting back to. Back to basic, like you needed to,
coming closer to the craic you’d cashed in when you had all that cash
to get lost in, the greed that grinded down the greatness and cut
more character from the classes than faith and famine killed the masses.

Sceptical still as to whether racism should be ruled out,
religion is racing towards relic but feet still flow to the masses
like in uniformed formation, as if in some sort of heightened
migration, a hypnosis from on high even if the brothers have abused
and battered all hope of ever being saved and the nuns no better
in their neglect for a nation of unmarried mothers who became
unpaid servants while their babies were left to swim in still waters,
that were far from blessed. Maybe you were right; God must be a boogie man!
The green land, the homeland, how time has loosened its hand
on our hold, age informed me while youth had veiled me
from the force of your females eager to remind your males
how they were made to be their meek; men moulded into
money making and quiet keeping. The motherland, indeed,
where the hens hold the cock clenched but I have things to say
just as much as those clocking birds running headstrong through
the homesteads. You can’t shut me up and just talk to me.
That’s not how it’s gonna be! I have options and opinions
and others versions who I’ve yet to be. I am changing sides,
slipping, like she did, the B side to the A side and will not
be pushed aside so perhaps that’s why I’ve taken off to the other side.
Cause I gotta be what I want and not what you want to see.

You see?

Gotta be free to muse,
regardless of the roughness,
for this is the justice that the just deserve.

All words and picture-collage by Damien B. Donnelly

Audio version available on Soundcloud:





    • Thank you Liz! This was a tough one to wander through, also what the critics said about the album Don Juans Reckless Daughter when Joni released it and it knocked her to the background while it had been so forward thinking and modern for its time. Although like I said; Jazz, like poetry, is rarely pondered by the populous! I appreciate you reading this one and commenting! Big hugs 🤗

  1. What a wonderful collage! Chaos reigns, and we need to find ourselves and our place somehow without being swept into the same state. (K)

  2. Pingback: I CAME TO THE CITY, MY MUSE, MISS MITCHELL – Deuxiemepeau; Picturing Poetry by D. B. Donnelly

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