To me bebop is chaos And I study its rules
at Nightschool – in the
Department of Crazeology,
hearing wild phraseology
and polyrhythmic cacophony.
My classroom’s coated
in nicotine clouds as
darkness shrouds the crowd
that hounds the sound.
As the stage musician magi
prepare their instruments,
the trickster-anticipation
thickens through the silence,
jeering, “Jazz me, baby,
take me, play me
any which way.”
See most never guessed
the word meant sex,
but you knew.
And in a heartbeat it happens.
Saxman, splitting silence like an
axeman, and attacks, man,
with the brass squeal.
Your mind reels,
perception peels, and
you start to feel
it slide by your senses.
Slithery little notes and random rifts
rip up the club,
stir up the smoke.
And the banging crash
of keys clinging clang,
and skins hit with sticks – pop boppity bang –
taste loud like red
and blue. And you
choose the only thing to do
is swing,
to work your joints
within a rhythm
that defines and redesigns you
and reminds you
of the blackness of your body and soul.
It blackens your body
alchemically, preparing
your base soul
to become gold.
And everything dark in you
comes alive,
lively and lovely, living
within the pulse of
something larger than you.
And then, before you know it,
you hear the call,
but, goddamnit,
it’s the last call for alcohol,
and the drink, the set, the smoke
is over.
And you stumble
into a color-drained night,
through a urine-stained alley,
to a hooptie that drags you
back to a paint-peeling,
love-discarded apartment.
But you leave schooled,
knowing there’s always something shining
— like brass, like ivory,
like cat gut —
and resonating
— like a strum, like a thump,
like a squeal —
from inside you
— like blood,
like a heartbeat,
like breath.


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