The Five Singers

1. Amy Winehouse
Dead before I ever heard
your name, that voice.
Did you die in vain?

2. Tracy Chapman
I want you to sit down,
have tea, sing some poetry.

3. Ronnie Gilbert
You can’t be gone.
Not now, not ever.
Even if I forget my own name
I’ll close my eyes and hear “Goodnight Irene.”

4. Joan Armatrading
Ma Me O Beach, lucky enough
to walk under ladders, I’m taking
my baby uptown, leaving the
empty highway behind.
Thanks to you, I know
when I get it right.

5. Hildegarde
A 93-year-old woman in
Hospice care, speaking mostly French,
remembers you singing in a cabaret,
circa 1952, the big war over, the cold
war just begun. You charmed the men
and inspired the women. First to sing
“I’ll Be Seeing You,” how is it possible
you never recorded it for posterity?
We can only listen to others sing it
and pretend it’s you.

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