The nave of the jazz dives blows a merry old air.
Not the free jazz. Or not at the end of the set.
The ballads. Though he thinks he can’t, he can;
Though he thinks he won’t, he might.
By the by, don’t trust a cat who’s given to lie,
As that cat hard sells. This player he goes back to the well,
And even if, as an alto man, he seen better days, well,
He can still pluck gossamer clusters from the air.
Can still scale the modal and be-bop heights. Lie
In the arms of mathematicians, you know, set
Theorists, e.g. Look, keep the beams on bright, don’t stare. Might
Of militarists, unnecessary here. A can
Of elbow grease, that’s all, for the nave of jazz, he’s can-
Do, man. Dips the pen of his craft into the inkwell.
It’s swell. Least, until the day when his eyesight gives out. Then: might-
Have-been. Could-have-done. Etc. He starts to sound like an air
Raid siren, or a rhino bellowing from his lair. Hey, it’s art. There’s a set-
To, at the jazz dive. Going disco. The promoter used to lie
Back and slyly collect meager profits. Now, jazz, a “pack of lies,”
Dude says. “In all candor, fella does what he thinks he can,”
And then this dude, he cranks the television set,
Inks a deal, while watching the patrons bus-stopping in the well
Of his club, like’s it’s a streetwalkers’ fair, en plein air.
Girls looking like if they don’t yet, they might.
Good for business, dog. No jazz bands, now, even if the players are mighty
Prophets. Flugelhornists, they lie
Low. Same with the vibes guys. Violists. They air
Dry their laundry, eat mac and cheese, save where they can,
It’s like a living hell, musician’s life, like radio, whose impoverishment is well
Documented. Man has a brain, man has his radio set
At defiance, set at naught. Set
At the left of the dial. All you who might
Rush pell-mell into the contemporary. Know well
Where you fly, this region where the tuba players of lullabies lie
In state. Here the house music vampires do their can-can,
Delouse love slaves out in the cabana. Yes, where’er
You fly, hell. Through the static, a voice, “Might just as well
Prolong this set of lies, since I’m already on air,”
Mister D.J. exclaims, “And don’t wanna get my ass canceled.”