Editor’s Note: WordPress typography requires a re-up at the top of this poem in order to reach the height intended by the author.



so swooped bird on that solo
flight along the verge
there in the Famous
smoky dark
above the tinny percussion
of ice against glass
flying over
the genius swing of max & miles
he lifted koko
now’s the time so high
we could not hear death’s
riffs among his phrases

(how did he know to blow these truths?
this way of making every note
for the first time & in the tempo
of discovery is beyond the voice
of the bebop traveler who casts
these lines in defense of the blue)

bird’s blues flooded his world
informed the conversations
of military tourists who cruised
52nd street in search of one
last naked woman to rub against
before boating back to war
it limned the brooding profile
of the small sad woman who waited
to take him home

there was exaltation in his horn
even after he burned the doorways
of his loves & mad brave bud
cursed him from the keyboard &
frigid death thickened around him
so no breath of light leaked through

the walls of the city prayed to it
bird lives they preached to the night
bird lives bird lives bird lives