Isabella Mead

The Glenn Miller Story

I wasn’t beguiled by the music, but the story;
specifically, the ending, because I knew
how it would end, seeing as Dad
stated clearly at the outset, and with relish,

Love, be careful, cos you see, Love,
he Dies. His plane just disappeared, Love.
Night-time. Fog. Planes in those days. I say, When
does it end, Dad? He says, In about 2 hours.

And now James Stewart has glimpsed June Allyson
and the orchestra is unfurling String of Pearls
and Dad is saying Enjoy this now, Love, cos you see
he dies at the end, only 40, such a tragedy.

And now Glenn Miller has discovered His Sound
and Dad says You see Love, it was such a waste Love,
Such talent and Mum says, Yes, great talent,
would be great if we could hear it,

and Dad says Oh listen to that trombone
and Mum says Yes that’s In the Mood,
now that’s one I do like, and Dad says Gill,
Love, we don’t need a running commentary,

anyway, you see, Love, as I was saying,
he was meeting his band in France,
and his wife had stayed in America, so,
when he disappeared, he was pretty much alone.

And now Glenn Miller signs up to go to war
and Dad says Right, bed now Love,
And I say What? I haven’t seen the ending,
and Dad says, well you know how it ends

and I say, No, I don’t, remind me?
and Mum says quickly, IN. BED. NOW.
So I go upstairs and as I draw the curtains
I must have absorbed the swing jazz somehow

because Moonlight Serenade seems on surround-sound
inside my head, and in the night sky
I see his last moments as a string of pearls:
an arc of wing-lights across the stars.


Isabella Mead‘s debut pamphlet Dear Rwanda was published in 2023 by Live Canon. Her work has appeared in Mslexia, Magma, Poetry Wales and Poetry News. She is Head of Learning at The Story Museum in Oxford UK and a Trustee of Jane Austen House.