all wanted to be song—stress—es, not singers
For Billie, Sarah, Ella, Dina — weren’t they ringers?
Jazz, Bree, Dawn, Sugs — who would dare deny it?
They were ready to audition — tough seniors — they would
But six months later, Bree went wild,
Abandoned by her boyfriend when she murmured, “with
And Dawn stocked shelves for hours at her mother’s store
From 1:00 to 10:00 pm; she couldn’t handle any more.
Sugs spent all her evenings by her grandma’s bed
Dreading the morning she would find her dead.
Was then Jazz saw she would have to stand tall
“I’m ‘a get a job a’singin’ in the name o’ y’all.”
To avoid their fate, Jazz got a gig
Crooning nightly at Moe’s bar, “Oh, I know it’s nothin’
But she told her friends, “Better jobs are gonna follow,
Yeah, someday y’all be hearin’ me belt tunes at the
The hands of the clock kept reaching for their fix
Bree’s little boy turned five, then six,
Dawn took possession of her coked mom’s shop,
Orphan Sugs went to school to become a cop.
Jazz sang at Moe’s bar to pay her momma’s rent
When she checked in on her homegirls, she had no heart
“There’s no real sense in belly achin,’
Aimin’ high is just like fakin’
A life more fittin’ for a friend or kin
Or someone with a diff’rnt color o’ skin.”
She decided her real payoff would be
Dark smiles, white teeth, not celebrity.
She bought sweets at Dawn’s shop on Sugs’ beat
To delight Bree’s son on Orchard Street.
And, accepting she would never be what she had planned,
Her heart whispered to her ways to give them all a hand.
Ruth Ward is a retired French and Spanish teacher who is
currently an active member of the Quest Lifelong