Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Free Man Don't Need The Blues


Charles Gayle (tenor sax)


when club owners wouldn't call back
to pretend they knew his name
and all he had to play


Gayle opened venues of his own

on street corners and down subways,

slamming his tenor up against

taxis and trains to find anyone
he could pull close

like a pro wrestler whispering

let's work this angle together;

it'll be a better show than

if we only butt heads


how about you, lady with a fancy bag,

you want to go three rounds

with me? What about you sir,

care to take off your tie and

scuff those shiny shoes? Hey kid,

why not skip school? I can

teach you something your class

will never know: your lesson


for today is that when someone

needs something this bad they'll work

in the rain, fight through the snow,

and I may not be much to look at now

with my beat-up shoes and bent

old sax, but believe me when

I tell you I'm a luckier guy than you;


I'm here waiting on the day

when my ship comes in

but they'd be crazy to let me take off;

everyone knows

I do my best work down here



Stop Press



the good news is

there is no good news;


there never has been

any good news,

and there never will will be

any good news


until every page

of every 'paper

is blank;


and there is no one

left alive to read

the good news




Last Stand



Never thought I’d exit the blue carpet

smeared with cigarette burns and stars

and only feel relieved

that the matinee ride was over.


But in every new blockbuster

I spy the shade of those that lit up

my youth: when Wolverine slashes Mystique

I see Ripley squaring up to the alien queen,

or Arnie’s thumbs-up in Terminator 2

when his mettle is humble and cooled.


The sensible voice beside me says

take it as a sign to re-wind the video,
accept that DVD is dead

and downloads are here to stay;

I know you watch Ingmar Bergman

when I’m out of the house.


Oh yes, I know you’re right:

this is how I learn to live

without the old illusions, or learn

to re-invent some new. But giving up

summer films means giving up

on summer, the chance I’ll exit

the matinee and find daylight

has added a new colour to the mix;

and for a moment really believe

I might drive around the world

to prove it’s no flatter than a screen.

Because being young is the only ticket

everyone gets for free; the rest

you have to work for, and mortgage against.


So here we are outside the Plaza
peering over the heads of strangers’ kids.

It’s either The Seventh Seal

or X-Men 7. Tell me again what it is

you really need to see.



On My Knees, Lord



In the bad days
of the good book
s a serpent,
a jackal, a bull with no horns

but he
s always a she to me;
on her knees
begging me to beg
down in the cold
where we fashion
with the tools of our souls
a new kind of Hell

then scream the hour of prayer
with my broken brothers
all over the world

but never drown your whisper.
The bell of your breath peels my fingers
back to the old Exodus
so I can read you naked
I can read you shamed
hear your laughter in the garden
lick your milk from the leaves

and I wonder
when I pray
and I pray
when I wonder;

devil Eve, is it
for you
I wear the wire,
is it for you
I wield the whip?



All Aboard



We had it easy for an hour

or two; sat on the tracks

and picked a few daisies,

secure in the knowledge that

all points were diverted,

no train was due. But today

we’re on the timetable,

engines gunning hard,


and woe betide any passenger

who might stumble on the tracks.

These trains are expressly

on time and will not stop

for anyone, even those who imagine

they hold the dead man’s handle.


Hide on the platform or scream

on the rail; either way heads will roll.

Ian Mullins 


Helpless I do not know if good intentions prevail among the elected, among the appointed, leaving me apprehensive that the fate ...