Maiden Voyage


I was only in high school. We approached the café-
Three seasoned friends and a wannabe musician. A corps of discovery,
Descending the narrow stairway,
Into the basement housing the Tralfamadore.

Man with a Mickey Mouse watch and two straps around his neck
Sits at the bar. His saxes in the offing, at the fore of the house.
Landing at a round table, front row, center stage,
I immersed, mixing into the background.

Stage set alight, shadowing the room as
The band wordlessly boards the stage.
Spacious piano chords launch toward the autumn moon,
Buoyed by the bowing of the spruce double bass.

Hints of a Herbie Hancock tune.
The tenor sax unfurls a gusty modulation.
Timbre of his aged Selmer drifts through the room-
Whole notes blow full and resonate.

A wall of sound hurling toward the novitiate's face.
Soloists depart, glide, swing, thunder, syncopated strains, streaming
Chords, surging, notes running, swirling,
Then returning to the blustery legato theme.

A quarter hour, or more, the notes wailed
A language, which we cannot speak
Is heard, and, sometimes its meaning unfurled,
Sailing vicariously through the tenor's reed.

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