Whatever Gets You Through the Night | Sally Lipton Derringer


WINNER: “Whatever Gets You Through the Night” by Sally Lipton Derringer of Nanuet, New York
TOPIC: Music
MONTH: December 2017


Whatever Gets You Through the Night*

by Sally Lipton Derringer


What words do you need when you’re trying
not to drop the house on your back, your shoulders
bruised, a hard rain falling? Neil Young was on

the stereo when you swapped your innocence
for the winding road, something starting, the
damage done. And later, down by the river,

your future rose and fell with the rhythm of Dr.
King’s speech on the tape deck, a double fantasy
of black and tan, a love supreme.

Everyone smiled as Debussy played and you promised
a thing called love, the wild air pleading for
your attention, his arm holding you in place.

You can’t handle therapy: the sound of your own
voice blabbing its pathetic story. What lyrics now?
Certainly not your son’s CD of tender love songs,

his earnest voice something that shouldn’t
be betrayed. Should you put on some Miles
Davis, a little Bonnie Raitt to accompany your blue

mood, so you can wallow in the feeling of being pinned
down to this bed you’ve made, the absence
of where you were going?


*This poem was composed using the following song titles:

Whatever Gets You Through the Night – John Lennon
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
The Long and Winding Road – the Beatles
Gonna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – the Jackson 5
The Needle and the Damage Done – Neil Young
Down by the River – Neil Young
Double Fantasy – John Lennon/Yoko Ono
Black and Tan Fantasy – Duke Ellington
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
Thing Called Love – Bonnie Raitt
Blue Moods – Miles Davis



Sally Lipton Derringer was a manuscript finalist for the Tampa Review Prize and a finalist for the Jeff Marks Poetry Prize, Arts & Letters Prize and Kay Murphy Prize. Her poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Los Angeles Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Journal of the American Medical Association, and others.


Whatever Gets You Through the Night © 2017 Sally Lipton Derringer


Find the complete list of Musepaper winners and finalists here.

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