Thursday, June 09, 2016

barely sixteen and in search of a bass clarinet

reggie & i
would venture over to the crawford grill
circa 1964
to catch
the jazz crusaders
or lionel hampton
or sonny rollins
and how did a misplaced teenager
still stuck in soprano clarinet garb
from the northside of pittsburgh
get hooked in as a jazzer
all of this with nothing
but coffee and cigarettes on the table
all of this
except the cigarettes i now deeply regret
is owed to reggie
who would walk a mile
with his standup bass
if there was a gig
to partake in
     for us
the wailing began when we walked
in the door
and the manager nodded to reggie
as we moved toward a quiet booth
in the back of the bar
and we sipped on coffee
for hours like the trance
would never end
and could only be experienced
but never actually described

the world might be coming apart
or shifting off its axis
but sonny rollins' saxophone
was just getting warmed up

--- e b bortz

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