Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cuba 1962

I’ve a mind to . . . I took a notion . . . I like to died . . . I’ll swan . . .
You don’t keep track of how they talked, you lose them to oblivion.
Last year I ran up a big hospital bill. Bonnington said, Pay it,
I’d feel better.

Henrietta was born in the South, Christina told me Danny
told her. Your full name is Bobby Henry St. Clair, she said.
Christina wanted to help me with my bills. Why don’t you be
a gigolo?

I took Sanchez up on his offer. I learned to play all of
Body and Soul and developed a knack for Time after Time.
We traveled some, Portland, L. A. Sanchez was a go-getter.
If I kept on

I’d be okay soon, debt free, Melindra would be happy with me,
still here or there, on the second floor or level with the earth,
but I stayed out all night and learned what a woman who loves you
thinks of all that.

One week the world began coming to the end. Kennedy stood fast.
I told Sanchez I had to have time off to go see Earlene. He said, Who?
New Orleans he’d heard tell of. He said, Maybe we’ll go there . . .
But who’s Earlene?

I straightened up, started coming home. Lovely came over one night
and loved me as good as I gave. How could I not come home to her?
With such a woman, why would a man let himself veer off course?
Why not go on?

Melindra kept her house, her job, she’s smart but didn’t want to part.
I’m a cur. I have my crazed needs. You know how curs love to stray.
Who’d want to lose Lovely? I write Earlene and she writes back,
I am married.

I met Roethke when school took up again. He thought Bobby Henry
was my full name. St. Clair’s more poetic, he chortled. He asked me
to read out loud. I filled up with air and stammered and stumbled.
I was too shy

to be a poet. But he wouldn’t have it, he kept asking me to read.
Then the world stopped trying to blow itself apart, such was the
worldly imagination. I would soon be a ripening twenty four.
I found a job.

The World’s Fair was on, I was a night clerk at the Coach House
at the bottom of Northeast Forty-Fifth. I walked to the bottom
and climbed to the top. I wrote a lot of poems and showed them
to Marilyn

Jonas. We took turns waiting on clientele. She was a true blonde,
I could tell. Tall, heavy-breasted, high-hipped, an Auntie Mame.
She wanted me to meet her cat Isis. Come to find out, she lived
on a houseboat.

At night they played the New Congress. Dave Cole was hired,
whose piano was at least as good as Brubeck’s.
Clark on bass was no Mingus. When the Fair ended,
we’d do a gig

in San Francisco. I thought of Cathleen who lived there now.
I was tired of trying to emulate Jimmy Giuffre,
but that was my ticket to get me to
our White City.

(6 March 2012)

copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander

1 comment:

  1. I love these narratives you write! Great characters. And why can't we go to Cuba now? It's nuts.