Literature Poetry

Flair by Elaine Feinstein

From yesterday’s Guardian Review (11th April) at


That whole wet summer, I listened to Louis Armstrong.
Imagined him arriving in New York after Funky Butt
dance halls, wearing hick clothes: those
high-top shoes with hooks, and long
underwear down to his socks.

Thought of him shy in a slick, new band, locked
for two weeks reading the part he was set,
until the night when Bailey on clarinet
took over an old song. Then Louis’ horn
rose in harsh, elated notes,

phrases he’d invented on riverboats
and ratty blues tonks, using all the sinews
of his face and muscle of his tongue.
And what delights me now
is when he grinned to thank

the crowd that stood to clap, he saw
slyly from the corner of his eye
all the stingy players in the band
were sitting motionless, their tribute
only an astonished sigh.

Elaine Feinstein
Elaine Feinstein

From Portraits (Carcanet, £9.99). To order a copy for £7.99 go or call Guardian book service on 0330 333 6846.

Also see at The Guardian

By penwithlit

Freelance writer and radio presenter

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.