Stevie Ray’s not giving up on love.
Meanwhile, one buddy’s wife wants out of it
in favor of an office romance; one
is signing papers now; another sweats
down at Ruth’s Chris and goes to Meetings, his
lady having given up on him.
Meanwhile, a smoke with PDO, a stoop
on 1st and Yesler, at a housewarming;
hellos, goodbyes to partygoers, then
we get down to it. Tears are streaming down
both cheekbones, Peter saying that I must
forgive myself. The gut-knot tightens as
it dawns that in the eyes of all our friends
glisten mirrors of foregone conclusion.
The future teeters with its fright-wigs, on
the Metro buses, with its limps and canes,
quaint clothes, hunched backs, bad coughs, its withering
visages of pure and blindest sorrow.
Black ice on the streets, the buses hunched
curbside like camels resting at oasis.
“Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” as I light up.
* * * * *
covering the waterfront she asks
“will the one I love be coming back to me?”
and I say he would not have left sweet voice
if it need not have been so likely not
best to move on he having left you once
who’s to say he wouldn’t leave again?
if past that you are looking you’re obsessed
pleasantly or no—sooner or later
no obsession feeds creating art
from life can also starve the living of it
for this I vouch as I must as I must
For this, and thankfulness for mysteries
of song and of musicians one may know of
or not know of (or think one knows but doesn’t);
and not for engineered admeasurements
of sonic gerrymandering two hundred
seconds long with rhythm guitar parts
a child could play, the song yoked to the players;
rather for melody as precious ghost
by which musicians place themselves in service
of being haunted; syncopation found
through rage as well as calm invention; looseness
jarred loose through suffering, not eased out like
a smooth and effortless One Percenter’s b.m.;
not sonic limits measured—time itself!
Try telling me Milt Jackson’s vibraphones
do not sound like an angel’s wings that beat
on winds of God’s own breath so I can punch
you in your face, then box your ears, that you
may wake up powerless except to listen.
The Walkman radio lying on my chest;
old scruffy flannel, half its buttons missing;
brown leather jacket with disabled zipper;
blue jeans with no knees; my dying sneakers;
writing down George Benson, Benny Wallace;
Jacqui Naylor, live at Yoshi’s: “Birdland”
conflated with a Talking Heads tune one’s
flung “Once in a Lifetime” college limbs
about in time with. Nailer wails “My God”—
drawn now, helpless, down the warming sluice
of empathetic commonality,
the one-size-fits-all template for projection
pop music drowns our sorrows in—“My God,”
she screams on my behalf, “what have I done?”