Let me just say before we start, I am not now and never expect to be a poet. But there was something about the phrases I chose for the original prose version of this that made me want to try to write it in poem form, maybe it’s the rhythm or something. Anyway, In the 1920s, young women were not ‘fans’ as they are today. A girl who was a keen follower of Jazz bands and Jazz music was called a Jazz Baby. Auntie Zonya was one!
Jazz Baby sneaks out at night when the lights are out
The window is open, the house is quiet.
She’s supposed to be sleeping in modest chastity
But she yearns to go out and dance and be free.
She blackens her lashes with boot-polish smudges
Jewellery and perfume and low-cut blouses
Wet crimson tissue stains lips and cheek
She wears flimsy skirts that only come to her knees
She and the other girls dance half the night
Dancing too close with boys Mother dislikes.
She drinks and smokes and dances till three
She comes home through the window before anyone sees.
Listless and irritable, got no energy,
She seems so tired, mother tells the doctor
He prescribes a tonic to build and restore her
He recommends rest and taking it easy
Jazz Baby sniggers as he takes his leaves
She’s a bad girl, a rebel, dancing through life
The devil-may-care painted all over her face
In the Roaring 1920s, setting a new pace
She wants to live like a film-star
Away from the world of the shop and factory
Away from the drudge of everyday toil
She just wants to be free, have fun
She’ll henna her hair and wear skirts on the knee,
She‘ll smoke and drink and live a life that’s gay.
She’ll dance on stages all the world over,
For millionaires to lust for and women to envy.
‘It’s my life, Mother, and I’m going to live it!’
And her name she’ll change from parochial Doris,
And recreating herself she becomes
Bright and exotic Zonya!