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The Day Etta Died

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The Day Etta Died

I was marking a stack of essays
on Frank O’Hara

and each had a Wiki-
paragraph to say

who Genet was, and who
was Billie Holliday

  • just as this poem stumbles to its end, predictably
    remembering the cold December night

I slow-danced with Annabelle Gray to ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’
at the Catholic Club Xmas Party,

trees lit with frost outside and cherry-coloured
street lamps round the playground at Our Lady’s,

and here and there, on windows bleared with soot
our blurred reflections, sightless in the glass

yet guiding each other, soundlessly, into the sway
of the future, almost swooning from the close

proximity of skin
and muddled breathing.

John Burnside will also be featured in the forthcoming Britain issue, out on 10 May.

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