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'This Thing Called Life'

Poetry Inspired by the
Music and Spirit of Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson


Ebony Isis Booth

About the Poet

Ebony Isis Booth is a 2006 National Poetry Slam champion, and is a recipient of Westword’s Mastermind Award in Literary Arts for her work as host of Café Nuba.

Since relocating to Albuquerque in early 2015, she has been working as Programs and Communications Coordinator for the Harwood Art Center.

In 2016, Booth launched Isis Speaks Consulting.


Spring 2017 »

lilac wine
by Ebony Isis Booth

maybe I can write about you now
now, that the sweet and heady taste of your lilac wine
imbibed during a deluge of purple, is an impeccable pairing for my palate
funny how that happens
now, that I am of age and maturity to swirl and sip
from your catalog without falling off the beat
the branch
the groove
under the cherry moon
High Priestess, did you call him home to be with you?

on purpose?
was his transition meant to give credence
to the concept of mortality?
he wasn’t supposed to leave
so soon

his voice an elixir
fermented from fragrant plumes
of the color that blue turns when it blushes
royal and fragile, like Moses after the bushes
breathed fire
good medicine

High Priestess, was Prince the sugar in your bowl?
poured in a heaping mound, helped the medicine go down,
get down,
stay down,
pressed down, shaken together, running over and out of time,
high heat applied directly to the mash up of funk, gospel, rock
and pop
do we intend to ignore the fact that now, the gift of his nine minute opus on occasions
custom suited by him are never again in an eternity of sunsets
like blankets tossed and kicked and fucked away
during the night,
we will reach for the sun at daybreak
here it comes, little Darlin’ Nikki
pull it up and over the chill of your absence
but, we will never be warm again

High Priestess, your soul was with him in Baltimore, wasn’t it?
I knew it.
you, two black unicorns
masterful voices luring envy from angels and demons
both built your churches on the rock where Sinnerman cried “Power”
did you know that he would stand there one day?
play the good medicine and pour his elixir over ivory and ebony
while Babylon burned, Oshun’s son
we know our brothers

you two, raised up in the church so
every song is a sermon sung with fervency that could make
the Holy Spirit’s back slip on the down beat.
High Priestess, what tune did you hum when he joined you?
thirteen years later.
to the day.
whatever ails, whomever listens
you are the Balm In Gilead

he re-defined purple for a generation with wardrobe choice
you defined freedom for generations
with the timbre of your voice

on the day Prince died, yours was the only elixir I could
in treatment from the sadness and straining for inspiration
lamenting a personal charge to make poetry
out of words large enough to describe your impact
longing to tell you in prose
how many times your refrains have brought me back
returned me from the edge of my own demise
I’ve never had to write a poem in a world without him
High Priestess, for thirteen years your voice has been muse
to my heart’s tongue
love like ours is my best kept secret
I rest in the bottom of your register like a fly
trapped in a mason jar of molasses

High Priestess, he was the living manifestation of your anointing
when I was thirteen
I wished all the boys were soft spoken and beautiful
with deep voices and dark eyes
and could baptize me in lakes
minister to me from stages
make me one of the beautiful ones, too

I was an Insatiable Satin Doll on coffee tables
answering to Martha and Saffronia when called
because you two, black unicorns knew how to paint
me in vivid purple songs

and today, when I am tongue-tied and
and sweaty palms
trying to imagine myself worthy enough
to lay alms at an altar built from sheet music,
I have molested like brail.
gin I have ingested like communion from the Holy Grail
lilac candles and sage
pearls and crushed velvet
white light and amethyst
a lock of hair from the first boy I kissed
a lollipop and cigarette
headshots of you and him
I speak your names, on this day

when you left,
High Priestess, the immortal Purple One
beautiful and regal by birthright is no more

I am ruined, and searching for a song.

Nina, can you sing me a way to feel that won’t cost me my childhood?

if ever there were a song
there is nobody left down here
to write it
or sing it
or play it




Ebony Isis Booth ~




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