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Rough for Lou (in 3:2 time)
i.m. Lou Reed

It’s good that you didn’t make us wait,
Like you had to, for your man.
We awaited our storm in trickled streets.
We waited on Sunday morning’s time-dazed stare,
Unaware that our Freeport baby was gone –
The end of his gig, his very last song.

Stiletto Venus in her pink
Leather hair now ministers to you where
You paint the Lower East Side again,
While we curve blindly backwards,
Tattooed to the wheels
Of the ‘A’ train on its final bend.

You stood your ground against the heat
Trying to bust you, the shrink
Morons blowing your bulbs with ECT
And the rock n’ roll stations
That banned you. White light, dark beat,
They failed to piss your mind.


Now your electric guitar plays on
From screech taut steel fire
To the sweet velvet of your voice,
Plangent, wrapped in vellum.
Some kinds of love
Are like that – seamless.

You bloomed suddenly from the Bizarre
To the Tai Chi raven that left us.
You summed it all up in your chord
Tripod – where one was fine, two on the edge,
All the way up to jazz on three.
Lou – the unique, the inimitable.

Now my tears melt with sweet Jane
And Sylvia as I play
Your music once more.
No more black coat and deep shades;
No more bending knees, whips, kicks or kisses.

You went quick. You didn’t make us wait.


Greg Byrne is a British poet.  This poem had its debut in Camden last night.
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