Under Alaskan Way, the drunks sober up, the cops drink free.
I will be somewhere under here, he said to Rosemary
waiting tables. She invited him to pick her up after hours.
He was living with Melindra now and had planned to say no,
I don’t get out much now, other than with my clarinet
at the New Congress: Come by, I’ll buy you a drink.
He watched her sashay back and forth and love roused
its animal. He wanted to be cold, tell her he had to be a mensch
but simply said, Come by the Poopdeck, we’ll have a drink
together. If he was being cold toward her, he’d know next stop.
The peanut shells strewn on the wooden floor, sax and bass
and beer, Jabbo Ward the Black Prince on soprano,
Seattle’s own Sidney Bechet, and Freddie Schreiber
the white boy’s Charlie Mingus walking his bass on back
and catching up to set the pace for the long long note of love.
Rosemary got off work, came in, he bought her food and drink
and they parted company at closing time under the freeway.
He knew he was being cold, he had to be that way
to be true to himself, it wasn’t what he wanted
but it worked, it kept him working, he made Melindra happy.
(26 September 2012)
copyright 2012 by Floyce Alexander