from NO EYES, a sequence on Lester Young

if exhaustion were an ocean
I'd dive in head first
& forget how to swim

down to the deepest deep
creep along bottom's bottom
& sleep w/out dreaming

turn blue in salt cold
shrink old prune grey
water filled folds pop open
on sunny days

no more sweet or sour
just hour after hour of no time
is nobody's time w/nobody around
to keep time

if misery were the sea
& blues were sky
I'd still sink & fly
& cry w/out anyone
being around to spy
on Pres & say shit

the suit fits
the wood fits
the earth fits
dark fits
worms fit right in
& out & who's to know
who's blowing what elsewhere
who cares
in the rare fit
of return

if blues were shoes
I'd walk a million miles
& still not be through
my map of trap
run changes not my game
chords afford hills I climb
in time to sing a song
lambs lap up & love sap
fills the meter w/sweetness
hearts hold no glass fills

paradiddle tap delicacy
clicketyclacks on glass bridge
over skin abyss drum
of slaves stretched
beyond break &
beyond your kiss

if lips were song
I'd never go wrong
& stay stuck on your breath
mouth to mine in a circle of fifths

if blues were shoes
I'd be barefoot before I start
walking in or out of
your life

if blues were news
the dailies would take eternity
to get through

when I go I go there without you
solo in transit
through back door
blue light blink exit
out of frame tilted

just a gigolo a photograph
an 8 x 10 print a postage stamp
passport ID
get me gone
out the door & into night

what I saw & you saw
never the same
not even close
where I looked in
you looked out
saw only skin

was light for a colored man
was colored for a light man
nobody wins the skin game

bells bells bells
smoke a carillon
thanks a million

eyes high beam
can't see nothing but
atoms & ladies
movie through
cloud shadow snacks
spines of light on shades
slides of reverie
in clubs Speed Graphic
shots of booths filled
with suits & skirts
ashtrays & shot glasses
washed in flash
look through time into
shutter's petals

(if snaps were real
nothing'd get anywhere
if past was future's fingerprint
love'd go nowhere
& if each note froze before it went out
there'd be nowhere to go
if you is or you ain't my baby
I'd still blow words you couldn't hear)

Lester led the band with his eyes
he hardly said anything except
hey baby or you know

hello goodbye
bells ring
when eyes see

in '42
in L.A.
Nat Cole
Red Callander
& Pres do
Tea for Two
breathless Lester

not brushes but
acetate fluster
sizzles through digital

Bean & Byas did wood
Pres does air
Bean & Byas push it
Pres lets it

what's delicate
rejects bruise
accepts blues

Bird learned from me
from Trumbauer's C-melody
Dorsey's alto

skin's secondary
pilfer from source
to become source

asked me who I was
who they were
why we were
how I did it
who I got it from
what's the secret
I told them everything
& they heard nothing

28 viii 97

1909 died in 59
now it's 97
you'd be 79
on jazz cruise ship
hunger artist
bypass dip
go for distilled curl
a Pilipino pours into
extra deep shot glass
knees push into leatherette
bar puff facade
elders scarf up dinner
at captain's table
drafted Berklee school kids set up gear
hey where's the chick singer