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“Every time I went through, I used to put a cigarette between her fingers.”

– Betty Ford on a ceramic bowl adorned with two Greek goddesses, a bowl chosen by the Nixons to decorate the Yellow Oval Office in the White House


The two aren’t such strange bedfellows

Amy dying only days after Betty

I was in the Betty Ford garden with its yellow

Blossoms and columbines, its flowers like confetti


When I heard that Amy was dead at twenty-seven

Like Morrison, Cobain, Joplin and Hendrix

Is there good parking for rock stars in heaven?

Is there a life after green rooms and the quick fix?


In Vail, there’s a theatre in Ford’s name, a garden in hers

What a first lady she was, candid and considerate

Entering the yellow Oval Office in furs

Using Nixon’s bowl to hold her cigarette.


Across the pond, Amy Winehouse lost track

Of her power to remain our most soulful songstress

So she slid, finally, fatally, back to black

What a wonder, what a waste, what a legendary mess


Ford made “rehab” a household word

Winehouse sang its painful praises

One tragic, the other self-assured

The two knew the trouble when one trailblazes


 – Vail, Colorado