Abecedarian for Amy Winehouse
Amy, how many poems do I have to write? How many times were you
branded drunk, disorderly, fool? You were only lovestruck,
colliding with the man who made things worse.
Drugs of course, but his love was the habit you couldn’t
evade. You tried. He went to jail and you served him divorce papers.
Finally severed the attachment. But he’d already sold your story to
Globe and Enquirer and anyone who’d pay. Already
hawked every juicy detail to whoever flashed money.
I know what it’s like to love something destructive –
just look at my past, the ex I was better off without.
Kindred spirits, you and I – you wrote songs, I write poems. But I
learned to stay away, forced my hand to put down the phone,
make plans, strike his name from my heart.
No one said it was easy but Amy, you could have done it.
Oh, I know you were alone when you took your last breath, I can’t
put all the blame on him but maybe without him you would have
quit the drugs and the drinking, maybe you would have gone to
rehab. Maybe the next album would be filled with intense
songs about a new love, a new life, a new emotion that didn’t border on
tragic. But I can’t bring back the dead, can’t
undo the past. You’re gone and your music lives, your
voice still provides the outlet my heart needs.
Without your words it would have been hard to sign my name on the
X of my divorce papers. I would have drowned myself in a bottle of wine,
yelled into the night, hoped for a quiet end. Instead, I found a new
zeal for life. I still listen to your album; it just doesn’t make me cry anymore.
23 July 2011
It’s the kind of weather we wish
for in January but curse when
it arrives, when it blooms hot
enough the honeysuckle rots
violently in the noon sun,
our stomachs turning
and tempers rising
with the mercury. Across
the Atlantic the news was breaking,
the crowds gathering – some
in congregation, others in morbid
hope of catching a glimpse
as they wheeled you out, your
gazelle body still inside the body
bag. I don’t remember what
I was doing when I heard
the news. But I know the day
was wet with humidity, sweat
rolling down between
my breasts, slicking my skin.
The day brilliant, still
unmarked by tragedy.
*“the honeysuckle rots violently in [the] noon” is from Filé by Aurielle Marie
I think back on my wild days – that bonfire
party where I had a bottle of Boone’s Farm
in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other.
And later, after the divorce I danced till closing,
kissed three strangers and went home with
a fourth, my shoes in the middle of her
kitchen for her roommate to stumble over
the next morning. When I learned your antics
earned you a rejected visa, that you couldn’t
attend the Grammy’s when you were nominated
for seven awards, I realized my wild days paled
in comparison. You went home with five
though really, you never left home, banned
from the country that celebrated
your talent but not your feral ways.
Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: www.wordperv.com. Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.