ODIA

A single blade of grass in Czechoslovakia
waits to hear your voice in song
sighing
a shy child angel sweeping the spider's web floor
for God
waits to hear your voice in song
crying, for joyous remembrance

Little girls who never stopped
the game of dress up, Auntie's fur coat
lipsticks and seductive perfumes
Giggling little girls, wiggling parodies of haute couture
wobbling on four inch heels (running daringly on a Circle Star runway)

Don't giggle now!

Papa in the pulpit
rhythm in the organ keys, playing
"He opens doors for me
doors I'm unable to see"
King Jesus! King Jesus!
roll my troubles away
open doors for me!

Africa, the Far East, Mid-East, Australia (aboriginal two-note)
jungleland of Surinam, playing YOUR vocal cords,
Tilting the possibilities of infinite, momentarily
created for only-that-moment notes, you made the note
while cascading words to waterfalls of magic
They call it gospel! Which can't be learned.

You had to be there. At the time.
The beginning of time
when the deer saw
that the two-legged creatures were his friend
for life
and flowers garlanded your graceful
animal throat of their own free will.

Odia!
The gratefully limbed trees know you, as they know the
dew-gathering leaves which sustain them, and they bow.
A small bird carries,
with great acumen, a large worm, squirming,
to it's nest, lest he not be worthy
of your careful glance and compliment, kind
smile to job well done. Sweet bird, generously
smoothing one straw-soft bed in the nest for you
And a single blade of grass in Czechoslovakia
waits with the earth and the sky
and the ocean
waits to hear your voice in song, already sung
and already part of the earth and the air
we have only to listen!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
NOTE: Jesse's pal, gold-album singer Odia Coates
(jazz/pop/soul/spirituals) 1941-1992

Her friends from young years singing in a popular gospel chorus in Los Angeles, with the great Sam Cook who died young, his best friend, Lou Rawls, and many more. Lou, just getting out of the Black clubs after I first met him in Oakland all Black clubs, and out of the old blues/jazz, into the cool jazz he loved. They ran into each other 'on the road' through the years, performing together on occasion.. Odia, ill at 49 and dying of cancer, in the last stages of pain, dressed one more time to go see Lou at the Emeryville “Kimball's East” as she had for years, until it was an automatic task, applying expert make-up, long eye-lashes and very long red fingernails, the gorgeous dress and coat, the right bag, (Paul Anka, her boss, first advised her: you will always be judged by the bag you carry! Make certain it is leather and elegant!) She performed around the world and was the first African American great voiced singer to open as a regular in Las Vegas to other Black singers who followed her. Mistaken in the best 'white' hotel in N.Y. City with Paul Anka and his band, and questioned at the desk as a probable call girl. elegant, sophisticated as she was, because she was African American in a white hotel, in the early 1980's! She had 3 gold albums with Anka.


© Dorothy Jesse Beagle

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