billie holiday’s
hospital room was raided
in 1959 for narcotics possession

she was arrested in her bed
where policemen
stood guard over her
for a month

before her liver told her heart
to go on and die

sexually assaulted at age 11 by a neighbor

prostituted by her mother at age 14

then raped by the white men
who ran the music business
for the rest of her life

.70 cents in her checking account on the day of her passing
because fame doesn’t pay the damned rent

heroin and her beloved dog mister
had been the most consistent men in her life

and here i sit on a sunday just after sunrise
more than 50 years after her death

considering the only thing god gave her

was the most beautiful voice on earth

so she was deprived of everything else

even peace of mind

as my weeping mingles
in the air with strains of strange fruit
i can’t escape the notion

her last thought

was that she had to face a white judge

the following morning