Wednesday, March 20, 2013



Where does jive come from?
Bobby asked floycealexander
when they met one sunny day.
Rednecks was his answer,
I oughta know.

Bobby was walking Seattle,
his usual occupation–
best school he knew, the streets.
He stopped in at a bar
on First Avenue,
hoping Myra or their mutual pal
Rosemary would be there.
Entering the swinging door,
he missed DG.
Myra was not there,
nor Rosemary.
No one he knew was in
this time of day.
he sat by a black woman
at the bar
whose name was Ida.
He said, You have the same name
as the suicide’s sister
in Baldwin’s Another Country.
She said, I’ve heard that,
I have to read it sometime.
Then: What’s that, a tablet?
He: A steno pad.
She: You write in that?
When I have something to say.
Ida wanted to go dancing
tonight. Third Avenue,
she added. Meet me there,
white boy. He took the book.
After the place closed,
they went to a coffee shop,
where he read her the long
first chapter, stopping
every five minutes
to say, That’s enough,
to which she said, Go on . . .


This story actually happened.
No, we didn’t have a love affair.
She had a man.
He was working nights.
He was a cop.
She brought him to the Congress
to hear the music.
He said I should sing Irish
tenor. I told him I was
only another baritone.
He also thought I was better
on clarinet. I said
I always wanted to play the sax.
He said, You do
what you can do,
be glad of it.
Ida went along with him.
She said absolutely nothing.
I had hoped she would,
but she adored
the black cop. I listened
to his cop talk.
I just listened. A proud man,
he didn’t know
he was talking jive.

I was of course
thinking what this guy
floycealexander said.
He was a redneck,
he oughta know.
I’m an Irish honkey,
what did I know?
I looked it up.
I knew the noun down here.
Maybe he meant the verb,
or the adjective . . .
I don’t know.
I went back to reading
“I’m a Fool,”
by Sherwood Anderson.
I liked his style.

(20 March 2013)

copyright 2013 by Floyce Alexander

No comments:

Post a Comment