In Walked Bud
—for Thelonious Monk
Half full of brow-beaten strings,
you get down like a man who lost
an engagement ring. What else
is in there? High hat, pork pie hat.
Trench coat wrapped around this
moment like a villain twisting
his mustaches. There’s a pause
in there disguised as a metronome.
There’s a thumb & pinkie chord
as off kilter as an upside-down
telephone. When you get going,
you get down like a business man
on a business trip. Forget skyscrapers,
the dirty Hudson, the mortar’s gray
split as off center as a black key
stacked next to more black keys:
you want swing while someone
is soloing. Around & around again,
the wheels inside of an automaton.
You want half notes hinged
by gusto & snapped bass strings,
horns trumpeting the end of some
good thing like a wind-tossed
newspapers with big headlines
tumbling on an empty winter street.
Wish You Were Here
In the pursuit of the happenstance
drummed up & scratched as love
letters on notebook paper.
In the pursuance of the husk-busted
dark of his own slack-jawed
scribblings. In the same pencil lead
the 4th grade bully jammed into
his cowering palm, in the same
lukewarm chlorine water into
which his head got dunked: it's an all-
consuming letter. Read it. The husky
nurse said that kind of lead wouldn’t
do permanent harm, but damage
is damage. The point in his palm
destination on a sad map.
A period in an eye exam. He didn’t
fight back, but no one thought he’d
cloud up like a spring sky during
a picnic gone bad when lead broke
skin. His forehead, as furrowed
as a love letter nearing its expiration.
Un Simple Histoire
Everything looks refurbished in the tint of a reverbed world:
fingernails scraping a played-out vision of sharp sticks & bison
meat on the cave wall’s convex grit. The bloody bones of morning
heaped like firewood. The fire itself, clearly in mourning without
the sanctifying hot wax of self deception & stars. To the left,
garlands of hot meat strung like adolescent stars on a stick.
To the right, the stick itself one-lining boundaries into the dirt:
this ‘hood is my ‘hood, et cetera. Like hand-jiving the world’s
first graffiti tag, only not. So we put down our implements
of half stepping & funk. We sidestep the moon as it descends
inside a hand-clapped cloud of stardust. He’s one of us, but not
with that waistline. We colloquialize grease tenaciously
like chicken bones undress themselves, then raise a half-filled
plastic cup to history: a hot meal in the belly of what could be.