In the land of jazz one last note holds me
Miles orders Herbie to blister those ivories. White
and black keys. No wrong notes, says Monk. All blue and smokin’
Jass me baby in the kingdom of my life,
Sheridan Square Decreed To This Princess. Her Daddy gone.
The royal moonstone ring gentle on my finger.
As I snap to a jazz rhythm, charred memories pulse through fingers
rounded by European teachers urging classical notes. Me
going for piano lessons in Greenwich Village, an era long gone
The subway from Brooklyn, my father mixing white
medicine potions with pestle and mortar. His life
reigning over this neon neighborhood, vibrant and smokin’
My mother, his queen, tells tearful tales. He died while smoking.
His heart attacks that last puff. Nicotine stained finger.
“Oh, how he loved you. You kept him alive. You were his life.
He lived for you.” A princess can only bear so much. Me,
twelve years into my history, ragged cuticles. White
and black keys silenced. Piano slammed shut. Music gone.
I am lonely. Simple routines derailed. My hero gone.
I get street smart. My innocence soiled, smokin’
Lucky Strikes. The widowed queen works dressing white
at-home moms. Royal coffer emptied. She does not lift a motherly finger.
I fall from schoolgirl grace. Any day you can find me
hiding out in local cinemas watching the Hollywood life.
I grow up vamping to “Cement Mixer”, my “Putty, Putty” life
Brooklyn days, Manhattan nights, cords cut, I am gone.
Scratchy vinyl 78’s my baggage. Father’s sulphur scent fills me.
The stuff that dreams are made of, smokin’.
I am on my parent’s bed, daddy lifting me higher, higher. Finger
poppin’ Sweet Basil always Village Drugs. Black and white
soda for Doc’s daughter. Jazz, champagne to this 1960’s white
Miss Ann. A blind giant, three horns in his mouth blows my life.
I am at home on this range with black cowboys. Cinderella hour, I crook my finger.
Yellow checkered chariot awaits. Wisdom teeth cut on pork pie hats, Dolphy gone.
Bamboo, the tender of the realm, Five Spot smokin’
I roll a prescriptive joint. There are no accidents says Freud. Jazz chose me.
I’m envoy in this kingdom of black and white notes. Though my father is gone
the bop of my life is copacetic with my being. Music still smokin’
I finger truths in my jazz catechism. His voice in the sounds that fill me.