Poet Laureate of Kansas (2017-2019).
To help celebrate, two poems--one from the book,
and one that inspired the title.
If you can,
sit up straight
while you write.
Look at how little
motion Charlie Parker wastes,
body neutral, placid, finger-
tips buzzing above the buttons
of his whole horn.
|P.S. We implore you to learn more about the cover image, a statue of Charlie Parker by Robert Graham.|
Charlie Parker who recently died laughing at a juggler on TV
After weeks of strain and sickness
Was called the perfect musician
And his expression on his face
Was as calm, beautiful and profound
As the image of the Buddha
Represented in the East — the lidded eyes
The expression that says: all is well
You had the feeling of early-in-the-morning
Like a hemit's joy
Or like the perfect cry of some wild gang at a jam session
Charlie burst his lungs to reach
The speed of what the speedsters wanted
And what they wanted was his eternal slowdown
A great musician
And a great creator of forms
That ultimately find expression
In mores and what-have-you
Yet not regarded as such at all
A genteel conductor of string orchestras
In front of wich he stood proud and calm
Like a leader of music in the great historie Worldnight
And wailed his little saxophone
With piercing, clear lament
In perfect tune and shining harmony
As listeners reacted
Without showing it
And began talking
And soon the whole joint is docking and talking
And everybody talking —
And Charlie Parker
Whistling them on to the brink of eternity
With his Irish St. Patrick Patootlestick.
And like the holy mists
We blop and we plop
In the waters of slaughter and white meat —
One after one
And how sweet a story it is
Either on records or at sessions
Or at official bits in clubs
(Shots in the arm for the wallet).
Gleefully he whistled the perfect horn
Anyhow made no difference...
Charlie Parker forgive me.
Forgive me for not answering your eyes.
For not having made an indication
Of that which you can devise.
Charlie Parker pray for me.
Pray for me and everybody.
Where you hide —
Indulgent and huge —
No longer Charlie Parker
But the secret unsayable Name
That carries with it
From here to up down east or west.
Lay the bane off me