Poet jessica Care moore pays tribute to singer Etta James as part of ESSENCE’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

This poem is published in the Detroit native’s fourth collection of poetry, Sunlight Through Bullet Holes, and is featured in song form (featuring blues guitarist and vocalist Paris James) on her debut album, Black Tea, The Legend of Jessi James. Below, find a tribute from poet Jessica Care moore (pictured below) and check back each week for more tributes to trailblazing Black women.

it ain’t like we don’t
a blues haiku
for Etta James

it ain’t like we don’t
like loving. we die for blues
cuz we born with it
madness the veil of
the mic. our voice flight
memories  don’t lie
we die of broken
hearts. transparent  art. they clap.
pretend to be smart
proof of existence.
feminine fossil for frauds
we cry. we birth. we  
deliberate smile.
forced on our mouths. open.
history pours out.
it ain’t like we don’t
love candles. or ashes lit.
we the flame. smoking.
america holds
our hearts of royalty. owns
our essence. rebels.
music is not yours
to take. stone rolling. blues runs
deep in these thick veins
the beautiful ones
alone with the notes. ancing
inside a body.
spirit fills the void
laughter measured. boke. holy
bread. we melt on tongues.
at last. rock & roll
gets on it’s knees. thanks mama
shall come first. they say.
it ain’t like we pray
to a different God. you know?
amen. ashe. peace.
wonder what they do
with our bones. build a shr. queens
sleep in death. i guess.
our legs still shake. shed
off skin. borrow wind as breath.
Lucy has daughters.
fatherless. but still
daddy meant the world. absence
makes art grow fonder.
blind is a blessing
when u got eyes everywhere
looking for your flaws.
Etta it’s sunday
as i write this. 12:09
kinda love. these tears.
it ain’t like we dream
of knights. in armor. shining
not since music. played.
at a wedding. stop.
pain inspires genius tongue.
i made that man. great.
know your place. brown girl
don’t sing that truth to loud. scream!
it through the speakers.

it ain’t like we don’t like.
we die for the blues.
cuz we born with it

we die for the blues.
cuz we
born with it

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