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He was fairly distastefully
disdainful,
My bald head was for inmates
and marines
and I needed to 'know my place.'

I smiled back and handed over a
filter tip,
dropped it clingingly from my
calloused,
pinioned thumb and finger
and the clock said 5 and
we're both killing ourselves slowly,
but he probably has much less
distance
to cover
to the finish line.

Charlie Manson mated with Santa
Claus
and formed the man
to my right
smoking my cigarette and glazing,
glaringly at me.

I drag,
push my fingers through
imaginary follicles
and look at my chess pieces.
The kingdom is collapsing
and I'm smiling.
I am in a triangle,
Charlie Claus and the Jazzman punishing
my black army with thoughtful
elegance.

He's a sax player
South of Orleans.
I tell him I'll be there in a few days,
New Year's Eve.
He says to steer clear of
the House of Blues Corporation,
Geffen,
GM,
GE,
Burger King has shit all over Robert
Johnson's grave
and when was Mariah Carey ever
blues?

My knight falls to a
surgical bishop.

Charlie Claus
says that the blues is a musical
form of crying
but I have seen
BB King smile
as he makes Lucille scream
with coffee stained,
life stained
70 year old teeth
and he made me dance once
on PBS
until Alistair Cooke asked for
donations
and there wasn't a tear in the house.

The Jazzman
coughs
and between surges of phlegm
rasps,
"This is the only real coffee house
in town."
I don't know but I agree,
this isn't my town
and I haven't laid my hat
down
yet.

My queen falls along with
my other pieces of importance.

My ulcerated king
is alone
with valiant power,
battle bruised
and small.

I burn my fingers
with the cigarette I had been
neglecting.

The neon lights turn on
and my kingdom falls
and the Jazzman smiles
and I shake hands
and walk.


author: Eirean Patton Bradley 1995