JULIE’S CD COLLECTION
Saggy plaid polyester pants in white shoes
foxtrot with a pair of clip-on earrings,
while the elevator descends.
I stab the red emergency button.
The alarm bell rings. With bleeding fingers
I pry the sliding door open
and exit on the thirteenth floor.
Given ten thousand years
chimpanzees randomly playing piano, bass, and saxophone
could produce something resembling a melody.
Until then it’s called avant-garde jazz.
“I think you’ll find this acceptable.” Richard Nixon snaps his fingers.
A burly Secret Service agent in conservative suit and earphone
places a stuffed black Hefty bag on the carpet.
The guitarist in platform shoes reaches inside
and withdraws a wad of hundred-dollar bills.
He smiles, flicks his long hair from his eyes,
and says, “You can count on me, Sir.”
“Come on, Billie! Let’s do the Hustle!”
Aunt Selma pries the boy’s white knuckles
from his death grip on the Naugahyde arm rest.
Flab jiggles from the legs that emerge
like yesterday’s bratwurst from her lime green miniskirt.
Like a dog on the way to a rabies shot
Billie jams his heels hard into the orange shag carpet.
Drawn like piranhas to the scent of U.S. dollars
clones, playing Andean pan flutes, circle.
The unfortunate tourist lifts his wallet out of the melee.
His flailing arm sinks into the roiling river
of llamas, fedoras, and multicolored blankets.
“What the hell am I doing here?” Sekou Sundiata asks.
He regards White America with midnight eyes
and chants of voodoo gods, bodegas,
and life back in the day.
Spiced with unconscious rhythms of Xhosa and Yoruba
his griot’s words shovel jewel cases into an empty Hefty bag,
cram it in a metal trash can, and clang the lid
with a crunch of crushed plastic.
JUST ANOTHER PUNK ROCKER WRITING ABOUT JAZZ
They must have materialized at the open mike
out of carbon and nitrogen in the air,
those poets you’d never see in a jazz club.
A guy in Roman-helmet-like Mohawk
reads three-chord rhymes about Mingus,
an MC in Phat Farm jeans
fires machine gun words about Miles,
and a woman in high collar and sensible shoes
chops Art Blakey into fourteen lines of ten syllables.
Seems you can’t be a real poet
unless you write about jazz.
Sid and Johnny Rotten dodging loogies in Dallas,
Jimi burning his guitar at Monterey Pop,
and Grandmaster Flash close to the edge
just won’t do.
So when the girl with the stud in her tongue
says Coltrane, I have to hear him
the way Jack and Allen did – a one-man Hallelujah Chorus,
his sax blowing eternity like Rumi’s reed flute,
notes hopping and skipping from step to step
up a staircase of rapture
to the backing of piano chords
and the pop and crackle of needle on vinyl.
But the literature of manual typewriters,
Benzedrine, and William Burroughs hats
has already been written. Where
is the poetry slathered in SPF 16
to protect from the Coachella sun,
the poetry of MP3 whose boots
are caked with Glastonbury mud?
About Jon Wesick
Jon Wesick is host of San Diego’s Gelato Poetry Series and is an editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He has published over two hundred poems in journals such as The New Orphic Review, Pearl, Pudding, and Slipstream. He has also published forty short stories. He has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of Buddhism and the martial arts. One of his poems won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists contest.