Billie Holiday, Handcuffed to Her Death Bed

Maybe these cops think if they can
Crush her soul, it
Will not fly, or if there is
A pearly gate, the cuffs will tip the
Angels this is a low-class gal, even
When she sings.

Heaven as a suburban convent.
Heaven as a Greyhound’s
Back seat.
Heaven, where no one drinks
After a black lip sips the cup.

Billie dozes, half-free,
And when she wakes
There’s a bracelet; her wrist married
To the law, to the bed,
To the tune that whispers,
“I’ll never let you go.”

Salty gal, tumble-bird,
With your cigarette-spiked voice,
With your fuck you ways.

Don’t rise too quick.
Don’t rise so easy.
Don’t rise without heartbreak.
Don’t rise.