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In Memoriam, Janice Blue, 1942-2017

I take this opportunity to add a few words of remembrance concerning Janice Blue. It was only last night I sought information by internet server as to what became of her, itself an interesting coincidence. I was also at the 2009 reading referenced in the article today by Sharon Doubiago, who like her subject, Janice “Blue” Adams Duff, has become an inhabitant of both North Beach and the Mendocino coast.

In 2009 Janice was anxious to meet Mary Norbert Korte and travel with us to the gathering outside Mendocino City. As the driver, I arrived at her apartment building and called at the back apartment. She had designed, painted, and decorated the flat in blue, the color of spirituality. It appeared she was aiming for an artistic and heightened level while there was time, even as she receded from material life. It was a labor for her to breathe. (A dove has just landed at the tin feeder outside my North window, the direction we follow rising from death.) She asked me if Mary would come and look at her work arranging the apartment. I went out and asked but Mary was also short on energy and stayed in the car. We went South to the poets' convention.

On the supper break a group of us ate together at a restaurant in town. Leaving the car I noticed Janice could barely walk. I told her to take my arm and buoyed her going down the sidewalk. "I can't breathe,” she gasped. "Do you want to stop and rest?" I asked. "No, let's keep going," she said. "You need an oxygen tank," I said. "My oxygen level has to get a little worse, then I will qualify," she answered. Such is the cruel Catch-22 of institutional health. We did get to the restaurant.

I had only $6 in cash. The management did not accept checks. I made a side-order, French fries to share. When the orders arrived, Janice wanted salt for the French fries. There was none on our table. I pointed out salt and pepper shakers on a distant table, and ruth weiss, who had been looking, brought them back. Janice thanked her. "I didn't do it," ruth said, "BILL did it," in a taunting tone. She repeated the phrase.

"Haw-Haw-Haw," Janice answered back in rebuke. Some subterranean joke and repudiation had passed between them. It provided an instance of why poets rarely get along, since a persistent human weakness, pettiness, undercuts essential humanity, only to be grist for Karma in future. Janice knew it.

Mary and I left early after the readings. I was sure Janice would get a ride home to Fort Bragg because others were driving North. She didn't have a license. That was the last time I saw her. It was only later, reading her unwelcome obituary recently, that I learned she died last November, 2017, to be reborn a Scorpio, a wise astrological sign. She was born January 1, 1942, and, from the obituary, as Kentucky blood. This origin might explain her frontier-like violence in North Beach in 1997, shooting a brute in his apartment who had beaten his wife repeatedly in front of her and another witness. The power of her passion can be traced back to the laws of Talon, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, which was still family vengeance law in late medieval England, before the emigrant migrations in waves West to the Mississippi. Her maiden name was Adams, an old English name. She lived the life of a poet.

May she live again.

WJ Ray

Willits, California

One Comment

  1. Tony June 26, 2020

    I just saw an aerial shot of her old crows best and looked her up only to find her passing. No telling how many times we drank! Miss that crazy crazy lady

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