Blue Notes—Jack Myers, In Memoriam
by Sydney Lea
Our good friend Mark forwarded your lovely
“Cirrus” soon after you died.
I’d have wept at it even if you’d been alive.
We are bound to honor your words: let my epitaph be /
the glance, the edge, /the mist.
You were a mensch to the very last,
your poem touched by that rare wit I’ll forever
connect with you, but to me
it’s the splendid late – life humility —
among the poets a quality much rarer —
that makes you dearer. Tonight,
having read you, I slip back to meeting The Blue Notes.
They were then no longer The Charlemagnes,
but Teddy Pendergrass
wasn’t their lead yet. I was in those days
a regular at that bar at 5th & Pine,
and every visit was worth
every penny, its jukebox the best on earth.
One night I shook the hand of the soul group’s founder.
I actually met Harold Melvin,
which seemed an unmerited blessing.
He’d come into the place with two of the other singers,
their names unremembered now.
They stood by the door and then broke out
in an a cappella version of “Out and Let Me
Cry.” ’65. All hell
was breaking loose, Dr. King in jail,
war burgeoning. The three men’s harmony —
though it’s only now I can sense
what it was that I saw come to pass —
epitomized the astonishing impulse to song
against all the reasons to cry.
You too had reasons — and sang. Today,
I long to sing back to you, friend, somewhere along
the edges, among the mists.
I met you, I heard you for years, Jack. I was blessed.