the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Spring 2013



C. L. Dallat


As the scullery looms sharp green,
lime, Thai red and the must
of Mussorgsky's Pictures …
he sees why he can't, won't, pay
for a gallery's audio-guide,
knows before he mastered
the black—never mind blue—
notes of Mood Indigo, Heliotrope
before he could stagger
a chromatic glissando or work
the changes back from A-7th
to F on a lacquered alto
he'd lived every accidental and riff
from Blind Lemon through to Red Nichols
via monochrome portraits in Orrin
Keepnews' Pictorial History
of Jazz:
Bix in a tux, Bechet's
enormous beam, Paul Whiteman's
wing-collar Gershwin battalions;
right back to an open-neck State-Pen
half-tone silver-nitrate mug-shot
and the dobro, bottle-choked whine
of the last of those slow, slipping
preternaturally agéd and sightless
rail-crossing soul-trader slidemen.



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