Monday, July 10, 2017

Poetry Pop Up: Grace Cavalieri

Big Mama Thornton

Credit: Cuffed Frays, 2001, Argonne House Press

Last time I saw her
she wasn’t so big. Actually
she was downright skinny,
singing the final time
in Washington, D.C.

Backstage she drank a
quart of milk
mixed equal parts with
Seagrams, she told me.

Then she got the idea.
Could I contact the Seagrams
people and then she could
advertise for them and
they’d like her for
drinking a full quart a day—their gin.

I said no, I didn’t
think so, and I didn’t
think the milk people
would like the commercial so much
either. She still felt bad
about Elvis stealing “Hound Dog,
The way he did, even though
she was much too much of a lady to say so.
Once she talked about it, long ago,
before she started milk with gin.

I guess the drink left a
sweet taste in her mouth.

Grace and friend/photo by Joanna Tillman
Grace Cavalieri is the author of poetry books and chapbooks and several produced plays. Her latest book is Other Voices, Other Lives, a compendium of poetry, plays and interviews (Alan Squire Press). Her most recent play is “ Calico and Lennie” (Theatre for the New City, NYC 2017), one piece of a three-part bill with plays by Langston Hughes and Luigi Pirandello. She celebrates 40 years on public radio in 2017, with “The Poet and The Poem” now recorded at The Library of Congress. She has four children, four grandchildren, and now is a great- grandmother.

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