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'This Thing Called Life'

Poetry Inspired by the
Music and Spirit of Prince

Prince Rogers Nelson


Laila Halaby

About the Poet

Laila Halaby is the author of two novels, Once in a Promised Land and West of the Jordan, as well as a collection of poetry, my name on his tongue.

Halaby was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship for study of folklore in Jordan and holds two Masters degrees from UCLA in literature and Loyola Marymount in Counseling. 

She teaches creative writing at the Southern Arizona Veterans Hospital in Tucson as well as working as a therapist with homeless youth and young adults. 



Spring 2017 »

starfish and coffee
............for Prince

by Laila Halaby

these days
I have been writing
grieving poems
for the so many dead
black boys
black men
for the too many people
of color
gobbled up
spat out
stomped on
by broken systems

while you are dead too soon
this is a different kind of poem

you helped raise me --
your purple rain
and 1999 promises
guided my friends and me
through bumpy growing pains
held our hands
in outrageous fashion

all of us were ordinary
except for Cynthia Rose

you should have seen
my friend Omar
the similarities you shared
his eyes flashed bright
like yours
part mischievous
part creative
part fire
and that man could dance
made me feel
like a celebrity
the way people watched us

Cynthia wore the prettiest dress
but different colored socks

I have a singer friend
who talks about the intimacy
people imagine they have
with the musicians
who have provided
the soundtrack to their lives

when you died
I watched videos of you
listened to your music
was transported
back to college
to a freedom of living
that seems impossible now
a time of no worries
fewer worries
youthful worries

if you set your mind free baby
maybe you’d understand

I listened
to your interviews
acceptance speeches
was taken by your confidence
sex appeal
on the Muppets
you boasted the ability
to make a song out of anything

starfish and coffee
maple syrup and jam

this was the song
I listened to over and over
the performance I watched
that brought tears to my eyes
pure magic

............all of us were ordinary
except for Prince Rogers Nelson…

rest in peace
sweet man




Laila Halaby ~




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