remembering janis

by normal

her pain devil ran so deep, her song
was just an exorcism in blues

maybe the boys back in port arthur were
as she said, that gawdawful bad
maybe she caught the same virus off the
late 50s cold war yrs that i had

i never knew janis
i’d see her around often in those days
sometimes on the stoops of ashbury
sometimes wailing with the bands in
the panhandle

i once passed some wine around with
her & a few others on a corner of the haight
she laughed & swore a lot
i remember her saying “some day i’ll be
singin’ with ole bessie smith”
after the booze was done, she gave me
& a few others a quick peck on the cheeks
& was off

there was a lot of shouting on the street
that day
a lot of laughing

3 yrs later i was scrubbing crusted moussaka
pans at a greek restaurant in new haven
i heard janis had taken her song
to another room

maybe she is singing with ole bessie right now
maybe her exorcism is complete