Wednesday, April 25, 1979

Poem For Bix Beiderbecke (1903–1931)

Your cornet was the first jazz I ever loved—
How it flashed, and sang, and always shyly
Slipped away. There was not much in this life
You were sure of except the music in your brain,
And that music was always surprise.
I heard you first when I was a boy,
And imagined you an elder brother
Out there dreaming somewhere,
Watching evening swallows dip over a summer lake.
You are there still, beyond my manhood
And those few muffled recordings of eighty years ago.
A friend of yours called it right:
The sound came out of that cornet
Like a girl saying yes.
You are out there somewhere, Bix,
Beyond the ridiculous legend,
Beyond death of pneumonia at twenty-eight.
Come on, boy. Come on and play.


Thursday, April 5, 1979

Rey de la Torre

Your guitar, from another room—
Old friend. With that minuet
The garden at home came back to me:
Tall honeysuckle blooming again;
A cat recommending sunlight sleepily;
Myself, intimate with morning.
I had forgotten until you played.
Now for the life of me
I cannot remember that minuet.
Never mind. Somewhere all moments merge.
This summer in the garden I will think of you.