(23 June 2011)
from the Paisano alley to the party with red
streamers you see in the dark, but too much
time expires, the door closes, window shuts
on the crippled fingers of Doug Harper.
He wanted to be named "D. G." and asked
this ax man to teach him sax in the pen
where he was then. We passed the jug.
Our friend recited his Van Gogh poem,
"The bowl of the sky turned upside down,"
and Doug chuckled, adding, I never did
learn how. Man was in trouble and got iced
next thing. I wanted to go to Paris
when I got out, that’s where the best music
gives the French what they love and give it back.
Here I am, I can’t wrap any fingers
around a horn, they’re shriveled like my arm,
I should learn to play a one-hand ax,
make it sound the best since Sidney Bechet’s
soprano sax. I stay home now. D. G.’s
records keep me in thrall, baby. You got
a smoke? That’ll do. Let me have the jug,
that sky must have turned right side up by now.
Inside, women were leaning on bodies
men acted like they owned. Doug said, Look there!
smiling, pointing at a bright red wall: man
and woman dancing making one body.
All poetry quiet under the wall.
If you smelled the air how could you help it?
Harper chose the next, undanceable song: