table for one
away from the kitchen
back to the world
not under the plants
skylight’s too bright
too much limoncello
the fat lady farted
plus twenty percent
07/87 – 0 5/17
ten years ago
i took up the knife
held it to my eye and with a flick
felt it cut; just a trickle and a speck,
and the city barely felt it
but it was reddish-blue, a royal hue
(though lacking you)
and i cut again, and often.
four-score and seven years ago
i freed myself from my earthbound
wondering if you were out there
‘cause i could taste you
even if you danced just out of reach
of my tongue
and i took up the gun, to shoot, to kill,
and kill me i did, until reborn,
i rewrote myself, with
you as my leading lady
and then four years hence
mass-killer now, and crazy
with the knife, i cut, i kill,
i spin at will, i’m there,
you’re here, but still not near
still out of reach, that tender peach,
i’ll always taste, that bitter waste
my leading lady,
that failing muse, that buys me bullets
i’ll never use, and tears i shed,
we’ll never wed,
but faithful shall i ever be.
The way to tell good jazz is that you don’t notice him till the song’s ‘most over. Good jazz sneaks up behind you and pulls down your shorts and then drinks your beer when you to turn to see what’s happening. You stumble and fall, wondering who did the dirty deed, and you look back, but you sure it couldn’t be jazz, ‘cause he sitting yonder in the corner, cleaning his horn and minding his own damned business. That foam on his mouth just blow back from the spit valve.
Good jazz hangs outside the club, under a tattered awning as the rain soaks up the oil from the day’s toil, leaning against the brick wall. He’s out there, cool as fuck in his shades, smoking a shorty and minding his game. Good jazz sees you, and exhales a thin cloud, and says, “What’s up?”
You get excited, seeing his axe and hoping he might play you a bit, but he don’t play, ’cause the music is him. He don’t need to play that horn; good jazz gonna play you instead. You stand next to him, quiet as all get out, listenin’ to his stories and trying to remember the words. But good jazz don’t need no words to tell his stories.
Sometimes, good jazz ain’t a he at all, and when that happens, it’s special, ‘cause you know damn well that bad jazz be trying to keep good jazz locked up all night. You can find bad jazz anytime. He sit in the back of clubs, wearing shiny shoes and a too-tight suit, blowing sour notes from his horn and making a ruckus. You ask bad jazz to chill so you can hear good jazz blowing and singing outside, but he don’t shut up.
Bad jazz always wants attention.
Good jazz, though, good jazz he just play and whisper. He don’t write down the notes and she don’t sing the song the same way twice, but that just bring you back. Good jazz don’t color in the lines, ‘cause the lines remind him too much of prison cells or dirty, smoky nights in the monochrome city with just a needle to keep him company. Good jazz would rather be outside, playing with his girl, sexing her something good, and letting you listen, long as you keep your eyes closed.
Good jazz don’t never seem to stay in the club long, but that’s okay. Better out than in anyway, right?
It t’ree a.m.
rakkle and roll,
swing an’ sway,
irie feelins t’ru de day.
Night-a call, me
rakkle me brain now
don’ cha know.
It t’ree a.m.,
me reggae flow,
bounce ‘pon de train
an’ mek we go.
T’ru dem tunnel,
out de side,
down we block,
so me can hide.
Rakkle and blow,
Sess na sway,
life naw good
it waste away.
Monday Night is blues Night
so I wrote you a song that go
something like dis.
I was born with the blues in my hand.
I thought it was a flesh axe,
but it was a silent guitar that only played one note.
If you’d been there, I’d have sung it for you,
but I doubt you’d have heard me.
The doc let me home with a slap on the ass
and the usual kick in the balls.
We paid him for the one, but the other was on the house.
It always seems that when I sing the sweetest—
my softest songs—
can’t nobody hear me.
Y’all don’t hear me neither.
And ‘round about 4 (years not o’clock)
I wrote you a sweet song and called it
“my head is full of you but my hands
only caught the blues.”
Mama would sang it wif’ me,
but she only sings off-key, and her one note
sounded like a song she wrote
to my melody.
Still, it made me feel good, knowing
I had accompaniment
of a sort, and I needed some damn
I’m telling you.
So when I met you,
lyrics in your left hand, sheet music in your
I figured we’d sit the fuck down
and finally write all them goddamned blues
I was born with.
I gots a muthafucken library of ‘em,
as you prolly know,
and they all have happy endings,
somebody’s songs got to.
I got a pocket full of you
but my hands are left
(With thanks to Michael Burks for the inspiration.)
You can never go back
except for when you do.
Her eyes still kiss his
softly, secret — never ends
A vision of youth
ten years fade — never werer.
Lines grow lighter, lighter,
love is young, and bold, and proud…
Hairline stretech, reaches forward
(afro blowing in the wind)
stretch marks fading, disappearing
green eyes shyly, brightly,
Now she stands, ever lovely,
eighteen still and twenty yon.
(or he’s mistaken)
now sure, is she, that
broken hearts can be forgotten
shallow tears make this one sweet.
Her eyes still kiss him
tall and strong
and young and proud
and a sinner’s smile.
She blames herself
for their transgressions
sees him through unworthy eyes
beauty inner, outer, ever