Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Billy Strayhorn, Ohio Was Just a Terrible Dream

Rest now. It was never real.

The factories are nothing more


than the mouths of horns. You dreamed

the man in the doorway. The slap


of his belt is an upright

bass. And what you took to be your


brother hanging in the cellar

is just a lady dancing. Let her


sway. The miners passing don’t know

your name, and they themselves


are just rhythm. Ohio,

some fool left staring at the bar.



“Billy Strayhorn, Ohio Was Just a Terrible Dream” is reprinted fromThe Last Time I saw Amelia Earhart (Persea Books, 2005).