You were a waitress in a bowling alley.
A keypunch operator.
You lived in Port Arthur, Texas.
You sang with power.
You had such majesty in your delivery.
Your parents wanted you to be a school teacher.
You started singing the blues at the age of fourteen.
You listened to Leadbelly.
You moved to San Francisco in 1963.
You started with Big Brother and the Holding Company in '66.
You wore colorful boas in your hair.
You were sexual in an innocent way.
You longed for a peaceful escape.
You knew you would never own one.
Your solace was a harpoon and a red bandana.
A bottle of Southern Comfort.
Night after night you beat yourself to death.
You said making love is like singing.
You were damned to loneliness.
Port Arthur High School laughed you out of class,
out of town,
out of state.
You didn't get asked to the prom.
A doctor told your mom:
"She will end up insane or in jail by the age of 21."
You cut your second album at the age of 25.
God! You sure could sing "Summertime".
You sang bluegrass and folk for free beer,
in a scum-bag bar in Austin, Texas.
You sang at Woodstock in 1969.
You never wanted to wear phony eyelashes.
You said, "Screw the cameras".
You said you were happiest in a bar.
Feelin' good was good enough for you.
I miss you, dear Janis.