The Landing // Jacksonville Jazz Festival 2014

On stage is a lion with a fade and oiled slide.
Young lord of trembling roar, summoning the swelter
with tightly buzzing mouth and drawn cheeks,
in the shelter underneath the Coca Cola tent.

The sunken dais at The Landing cradles a diaspora
of Jacksonville polychromatics, a surprise
sector of jazz fanatics in sun hats.

I’m following threads of triplets and flecks of spittle flinging
off of polished brass, remembering returns to silence at the end of class.

Let me set the stage in a tray of formaldehyde so age can’t have its way:
I am still in the practice room next to yours with my face pressed against cool brick,
catching each of your vibrations like a stolen kiss.

Trying to gather the courage to ask
“do you mind if I sit in here and listen? I’ll be quiet…”

A little chunk of maple sugar dances ‘round his mother
in the center of a casual crowd. A woman in a Hoveround barks at blonde sisters
and I sit alone, entranced.

This conglomerate of culture is church reclined on concrete steps, sipping beer.
The elderly gentleman behind me stomps the ground and cheers. “Yes, baby! Yes.”
I understand. Say no more. Yes.

I am whole when the music stands in front of me,
whole when parts of my anatomy become melody
and my lipid layers liquidate to link with written staves
and arpeggiate: F A C E

I still have so many questions
for before the decades pack the horns away.
Are you haunted like me by intervals left unrecorded?
By lyrics long lapsed into the chasmic silence of forgotten?

Man, I dread the death of these refrains the most,
when dreadlocks hop off the A train with giant steps, fading
from the lead sheets like ghosts.