Friday, December 17, 2010

Headphones And Crucibles

You will not make love tonight, you will not feel sorry for yourself, you will not even be surfeited, you won’t get real drunk, you won’t even shed blood, and you’ll have undergone a fit of sterile frenzy. You will leave a little worn out, a little drunk, but with a kind of dejected calm, the aftermath of nervous exhaustion.

Jazz is the national pastime of the United States.

Jean-Paul Sartre
writing in 1947
quoted in
Robert Gottlieb’s “Reading Jazz”

A man puts on a pair of headphones.
A woman’s sleeping across the room.
He presses a button. Green lights bloom
under his hands, real flesh on real bones

playing plastic keys, digital tones.
“Molly Malone” surrounds him, a womb —
or is a song a counterfeit tomb?
The notes are like ghost chains or ghost groans.

Three choruses and out. Of the song.
Whatever it was. He looks around.
Not wombs or tombs, he thinks. Crucibles.

The world’s changed, he thinks. Everything’s wrong.
She’s gone. Took the stilyagi sound.
And books. My heart. And dirigibles!

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