This one was published in the now defunct Yellow Chair Review in an issue dedicated to Prince.
It was by chance that I met Prince
when my life was constantly
walking in from the out door.
Being 10, ugly with acne, and
having a single mom in a nuclear
family town was brutal some days.
I counted heads each day at noon,
of the 4th and 5th graders in the
the long line that snaked out the hall
for lunch room seats, to see
where my bullies would be sitting,
and if I could eat in peace that day.
My cousin Jenny would invite me into her room
when I visited her, the sacred room,
behind the door that was always closed,
that opened to the Madonna, Springsteen
and Prince posters. A cheerleader
with ripped bleached jeans and crimped
blonde hair, Jenny and I never
talked about bullies, but Prince,
as we listened to When Doves Cry,
Let’s Go Crazy, and my favorite, Purple Rain.
At Christmas, she gave me my own Purple Rain LP.
Now, you can listen to it as much as you like,
she said. Not just when you are with me.
And, listen I did,
behind my closed bedroom door.
The record turned around and around on the turntable,
a hypnotic motion that guided me
to the comfort of the purple rain.
Later, after my regular babysitter
was fired for hitting me,
I stayed with my great aunt who liked
Garfield, bodice ripper romances, and the Rat Pack,
and hated how modern music just repeated
the same lines over and over,
like Purple Rain does.
She couldn’t possibly understand how Prince
sang to me a lullaby,
allowing me to sleep at night.