like the moon must look…

Strange Fruit

Billie Holiday

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
for the rain to gather
for the wind to suck
for the sun to rot
for the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop

        (song composed by Abel Meeropol)

... music to live by that changed my life ...


Holiday’s was a powerful and haunting voice in all her work – and this, one of her strongest pieces. Pure impact.


My own poem, with its genesis in this recording … (published in Pudding Magazine: The International Journal of Applied Poetry and Religions of the Blood):

“Strange Fruit”

Her voice sounds like
the moon must look
through trees in winter,
and when she sings,

the wind blots over
the burned out nebulae
of her head so no one
can see her fall

until the song is through,
until the song does her in.
She sounds like scars
that bleed over the moon’s face,

leaving their cold reminders
for fanciful pairs of eyes
to pause from love
just long enough to take them in.


C. E. Chaffin said...

Nice work. Now that I know you have three degrees, I shall be more deferential. Not! Bravo for your polymathic interests. What blues singers do you like today?

LKD said...

To me, her voice was a sound right at the edge of keening.

Her voice was the branches creaking from the weight of their strange fruit.

Her voice was the sound of those nights when you can't sleep and the hours get smaller and smaller and your only companion is a spider and you're fairly certain that everyone else in the house isn't sleeping; everyone else in the house has died.

It'll be a while before that line about her voice sounding like how the moon looks through trees in winter.

Thank you for that, Sam.

Collin said...

Love Billie, love the poem. Nothing but love from me today.

sam of the ten thousand things said...

CE, my favorite blues singers - today: Buddy Guy and Robert Cray. Favorites of the past: Holiday, Robert Johnson, Skip James, Son House, Muddy Waters, and Bessie Smith. Thanks for the read.

Laurel, thanks for the comments about the poem. Holiday's voice, once heard, can never be forgotten.

Love's a great thing. Thanks for the listen and the read, Collin.