Erin O’Luanaigh

Black-Eyed Suzie’s

My first regular gig. Of late an aging child prodigy,
now I sounded like a woman and was one.
“I don’t know whether to take you over my knee
or take you over my knee,” some barfly Cicero said.
(“Why don’t you think about it and get back to me?”)
The microphone was somehow always wet,
the crowd forever three drinks deep. I thought
my classical training counted for something,
could bounce a textbook off my diaphragm,
belt an F5, sight-read anything. I liked to brag
that everyone I really dug was dead. Onstage,
hands folded, I nodded dutifully as the trumpet
player ran laps around “All the Things You Are”
and the rest of the guys walked offstage for
a Newport break. At last, our married bandleader
fired me because he “couldn’t trust himself.”
(He looked, for all the world, like a hardboiled egg.)
Sniffling, I packed my tote bag while the trumpet
player, that callous bastard, went on whistling
and polishing his horn. Ah, Suzie’s. C’est la vie!