Eleanora, Billie, Lady Day

" God Bless the Child"
( though yours was a lone blessing,
if that even
or was it just an unexpected
with which to unlock
stifling doors...?)
And, " Mama may Have,
Papa may Have"
- but yours didn't
they hadn't
- nothing worthy to give you...
girl child
born in 1915
and on the proverbial " wrong side of the tracks"
add to that,
and Black.
Your daddy some say,
was a no- account
- a musician, like you
( he was absent,
while others say, " unknown.")
And mama,
broken like you,
though still in her teens...
What legacy could they
possibly give?
nothing, none at all-
nutin' but the trouble
that was your lifelong
It was a birthright
of lack
and of shame
- all yours
and your given name
sounding all
though your life was
anything but.

And even that later moniker,
" Lady Day"
implied cheeriness,
bespoke nothing of the darkness
into which
you'd plunge.

And " Canary"
songstress surely,
jazz diva
but what of the cage?
that voice though,
your only miracle
yet some called it raspy,
it was one of a kind
a sob
bemoaning a bitter love
and treacherous
it bore no honeyed sweetness
just echos of the needle's
hypnotic numbing...

And yes, you'd go far
catching a glimpse
of the life of which
you surely dreamed
yearned for, so desperately.
You sang at Carnegie Hall
rubbed elbows with the luminaries
of your age
but even that couldn't remove
the taint
of abuse and
those memories of the sordid roads
down which they dragged you,
dancing on the razor's edge
song was your safety net-
it couldn't save you...

And what of the
white gardenia?
such a sharp contrast
to the blood red
fleur du mal
( flower of evil)
that killed you...

and pure
symbol of the
so long ago
but ever desired,

And I wonder,
how many women
( and girls)
still share your fate-
( though without the fame)
and how many females
( of all colors and classes)
are sentenced for destruction-
to end in

For Lady,
even midst all your pain
you stood on the stage,
heard applause,
and your music,
is still being played...
Yet for you,
history tells us
it just wasn't enough.

This poem is about: 
Our world


Annette M Velasquez

The poem is not so much about " our world" but certain aspects of it... I did want to highlight the historical accuracy of Billie Holliday's life, but more so, I wanted to convey that neither money, talent, or fame can shield one from tragedy. Whether that tragedy comes from wrong choices or is imposed by others/ circumstances is another story... but I did want also to show the tragedy of many women and girls- their aspirations and potential being crushed by abuse, addiction, bad choices or by circumstances- economic and/or social. Of course, one can rise above these, and Billie Holliday did achieve a great deal... but, like many celebrities had a sad, untimely death. The poem is a admonition perhaps, to live wisely, wholesomely.

MVP-Most Valuable Poet

great description of billie holiday

you provided an impactful perspective of her life

this can apply to our lives in being wise

the saddest thing in life is wasted talent

be grateful, and learn from mistakes to be stronger

Need to talk?

If you ever need help or support, we trust CrisisTextline.org for people dealing with depression. Text HOME to 741741