Flicker and Fade
The streetlamps flickered overhead again. On and off they alternated in kind until at last they lingered on. There were two dark sticks down below, edging closer to one another, on and off, on and off.
One reached for the other, paused and dropped away. The other returned in kind the subtle movements and like a mirror displayed their whole story at one glance. The street emptied but they filled it once more under those old lamps.
Alone, yes, alone no, one reached and then the other looking up and around, making sure their expression was bereft of subtle suggestion. This territory was conquered; dare they reach another region before the fall? On and off, on and off.
Those dark sticks, floated there adrift in the whirling tide pulled toward and away once more and then they were vanished. The street below silenced again as the first robins alit the line above the lights, flicker and fade and then the day anew. On and off, on and off.
I stood there,
hot-eared and flush-cheeked
with my back propped against
the chair back
We stood there,
red and white waiting
for what was next,
The space between
our feet shined
a wispy track
from the kitchen light
"Here it is" I thought,
as his hand rolled up
and flew across my chin,
I now knew he would be
my father never again.
The jazz man came with the quatrain tied to the last lowly note...he played
longer than my sadness as I hid my face behind my hands...hopin' the truth
wouldn't find me there. He kept playin' and I kept hidin' waitin' for his phrase to end.
I wanted nothin' more than to call him my friend, but he kept stabbin'
me in the heart with his agonizin' tones. I wrenched my fingers tight blockin' out the bad news, but it just kept on comin'. The Russian poured on
the next layer with his cymbal, quietly etchin' out the perimeter...
It was all I could do but pick up my hat and walk outside...away from
their subtle cruelty...into the night air to clear mind and lungs of that damned
jazz. Walkin' down King Street, I saw 'em all-the queens, the fairies, and hookin' girls...
I felt an affinity for them, they were real...in a world full of plastic grass
and vacant stares...these urchins were the glue that kept everything together.
As long as they were around janglin' in the street, I felt like the world
Old Hector sat at the spot...the bus bench at the corner of King and fifth. He barely tried to hide his bottle of Maker's Mark anymore, the patrolmen never came out this way...just as well. I ask old Hector, "Where's the fire, Hec?"
He rocked silently,
head down, shoulders hunched. I ask him again, "Where's the fire, Hec?" He sat there lookin' like a dead dog. His buddy, Nacho called from upstairs in the window, "He no hear you Mr. Sunshine...He no hear so
good no more."
I put a dime, a nickel, and three pennies into the can at old Hector's feet and went on my way.