Photo Louis congas and my son Sam on the drum kit. 1976
Blues For Louis
Inside her room, single bed, sink and gas ring, she listened to the blues–
black vinyl warm spinning her heart wanting the sound in her mouth.
Outside a window open in the summer heat-
the street and the rowdy dow of Earls Court Road.
Saturday night down to Louis subterranean home
made mystic with leaves, sticks, stones,
incense filling the air as he cooked fragrant food from Mauritius,
new tastes for her tongue, his hands beating time on a drum
singing the songs she never forgot.
Seeking bohemian magic in Soho where Jazz is,
late afternoon sun shooting lights and dusty smoke spirals,
setting fire to golden brandy in her glass.
She’s sitting small in beatnik black and blue velvet,
taking in mind seeds, drinking the juice of truth
hanging on to the threads of her dreams wanting love and more…
Bottling for Paris Nat in Piccadilly one spring his accordion,
squeezing out the songs of France and the war, lost love and more.
Down to the big river.
A mournful London lullaby of tugboat and train, the evening rain on her face.
She remained at the riverside, mesmerised by the water,
the tide and the flow of it,
the comforting old of it.
A raucous chorus of seagulls winging in on the wind –
from the sea in the east, hungry for the city’s feast.
Castles and elephants, bridges and spires, factories, domes,
a million red brick homes.
Back to her home in The All Saints Road in
The Grove next to The Mangrove.
And now, a winter mean morning, wind raw in Bethnal Green,
grey London streets bloodshot with buses.
A woman catches my eye,
I smile, she curses, her voice a sore sound in the air, howl, and scowl.
I knew her a long lifetime ago.
He droops over his big issues near asleep underneath stooped back,
heels clip clipping, cigarette tips glowing.
Underground sulphur smell, hot breath, bodies close and souls apart,
swaying in a metal tube, eyes avoiding eyes, avoiding touch.
Mind the gap.
Behind newspapers roaring the words of war once more,
which was where I came in.
London. Blitz. 1944. Talk Please. Not War.
Glow burning sunset on top of a hill, purple night inching in from the west.
In the City below the Sirens wail and headlights strobe flicker
between the leaves on the trees; on the roadside, a dog laughs –
A man barks and the breeze lifts the hem of a skirt, flowers low bow to the earth.
I look with older eyes through tears and a once upon a time song.
I remember Louis and the drum and the song, as I sing my blues………….
Blues for Louis.
Photo Guy Cross. The small boy, Sam Smart.