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I like men who play music / who bind me in their fine conspiracy. / My man says: STOP IT.

 

   

Books by Lee Meitzen Grue

Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud  /  In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh   / French Quarter Poems  / Three Poets in New Orleans  / Downtown

CD Live! On Frenchmen Street

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Jazzmen

By Lee Meitzen Grue

Mister, your eyes are bright blue numbers

rimmed in white enamel.

I like to look at your 

diamond crackle

when you middle finger

your bright-lipped horn.

You pour music into my upturned face

I'm so happy

I can't stop laughing.

Old Sly -face, the piano player,

half-masks his eyes   smug cat

says:

How do you like that?

I like it.

I like men who play music

who bind me in their fine conspiracy.

My man says: STOP IT.

You give yourself to the piano player

the bass      the horn     the thin

reed of the clarinet

I can't listen to his talk

when there's music.

when there's music.

This music. I like

men who make music.

There's never been anything as good

as that note.

Oh, you're sly, piano man,

his eyes say:

I know it     I know it

then the cornet takes it somewhere up

and the horn,

the horn is an astronaut

saying mundane things at heights profound

promising me walks in space

trips at the end of a live wire,

landings     landings,

but it stops somewhere

midair

he puts down his horn

shakes out a cigarette

lights it     nods.

Oh, God, Alice,

I know how it feels to

fall.

The man takes my arm

says: Let's go now.

Instruments float the bandstand,

the bus tour pulls out in waves

foaming

tables     chairs strew the floor.

He pays the check

wades me past tables,

half-pulled out chairs,

musicians smoking on the stair.

We walk into a street

empty with let down glare

and distant buoys that bell in the night.

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Source: French Quarter Poems (1979) Long Measure Press

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Downtown

By Lee Meitzen Grue

Lee Grue is arguably one of the finest practitioners of poetry in New Orleans' storied history. These superb writs are equal to the upwelling of jazz itself: from Tremé street corners, to the wayward French Quarter, to the carefree vibes of Bywater, all the way to back o' town; this astonishing collection speaks from a mythic pantheon off yowls & beats as timeless as the Crescent City herself. "If you're missing New Orleans, and you know what that means, you need to read Grue's book front to back, place by place, time by time, name by name, everything that breaks your broken heart and asks it to sing. A generous, loving tribute to poetry and to New Orleans"—Dara Wier

 "Lee Grue's work is one of the majestic pylons that keeps New Orleans above water, a pylon woven thickly and subtly from the city's history. Her poetry weaves her personal history to the five centuries of the city's own, a fabric stronger than the dreams of engineers. Lee Grue holds us all on the warm open hand of her music; she emanates the love that raises the soul levees"—Andrei Codrescu\

Lee Meitzen Grue was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, a small town upriver. New Orleans has been home for most of her life. She began reading her poetry at The Quorum Club during the early sixties. There she met musicians Eluard Burt and Maurice Martinez (bandleader Marty Most). Burt had just come back to New Orleans from San Francisco, where he had been influenced by the Beats. Eluard Burt and Lee Grue continued to work together over many years. Burt and his photographer wife, Kichea Burt, came home to New Orleans from California again in the nineties, where the three collaborated on a CD, Live! on Frenchmen Street. Eluard Burt passed in 2007.

Kichea Burt contributed some of the photographs in Grue's book DOWNTOWN. During the intervening years Grue reared children, directed The New Orleans Poetry Forum workshop, and NEA poetry readings in the Backyard Poetry Theater. In 1982 she began editing New Laurel Review, an independent international literary journal which is still published today. She has lived downtown in the Bywater for thirty-five years. After the flood of 2005 she began teaching fiction and poetry at the Alvar Library, which is three blocks from her house. Her other books are: Trains and Other Intrusions, French Quarter Poems,  In the Sweet Balance of the Flesh, and Goodbye Silver, Silver Cloud, short fiction.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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Enjoy!

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 8 July 2008

 

 

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