Harry Reed is a poet and former professor of African American History living in Boulder
Taking Mr. Jack Home
Mr Jack tried standing, his body flapping, boneless as an empty croaker sack. Tried planting his left foot, instead it tickle toed into an offbeat jitterbug move. A small, combative man who described himself as intelligently verbal, his friends said mouthy as a hooked fish gasping for air.
They all knew how this was going to turn out. Once they got him up the stairs, to his door, in full view of his wife and children Mr Jack would start fighting. Like a punch drunk prize fighter/ he’d reel into the door jamb swinging at the object, person nearest. Once, the story goes he swung at his wife missing her by only a fishing lines width. She promptly decked him and left him writhing like a Mackerel on their welcome home mat.
Bullets of Music Smash the wall dissolve into powder yet their full force, penetrates without disturbing surface, paint, lath. It melds, marries adding dimensions, subtleties, a thick melange beyond music. A world opening, closing, shifting, rounding back onto itself. Bird in the vortex, motionless except for those fingers moving at blinding speed and slow accents almost simultaneously. old lady’s washboard, an African calabash, collard green scents, cuisines reinvented. Do music bullets kill? Depends. Leave it at that. What does he see behind closed eyes? Bird filled up caves. Osprey carrying notes wriggling, gasping for breath while quick change comedians wax nostalgic on counter point. Conversations that drift, signal beginnings, new solos etched on primordial spinal cords. ...one ...two ...three galloping riffs meet repetition trying to break controls of written charts, record industry proscriptions, the human ear protecting the human heart lest they all shatter cast iron cook units corn fritters smack dancing down home melodies
Raise that bell. Bite that reed. Make ‘em listen. Cry because music bullets are velvety scotch and whiskeys killing you softly. Curse that horn. Tell them bullets to stop climbing the stairs when you want to mount that woman and shut out the screaming in your limbs, and your squeezed eyelids. Buddha offered Nirvana gave no hint how difficult the path. Is the whole world fuckin’ with me? Only the coda knows “and it ain’t talking’ ‘til you get there.” Bird bullets, high, sweet, mellow, float above, below, shimmy through cuts, tiny spaces before others could breathe. Music bullets glide, transom, carrying grit like coffee grounds making women grind their hips even before the sound penetrates.. Music bullets flying, punching back to the band stand loaded with envy, greed, resignation. But, Bird has taken a be bop lick to another station. Trickster, Trickster where you at? I’m makin’ mischief music man! Strings, overlays all music ammo streaming into and out that damned horn. No separation between diaphragm and chamber. All one, all pointed to bull’s eyes some as far away as Mars. Didn’t he know the impact on others? Maybe. Didn’t she say “he was the most alarmist man she ever knew?” Smiled and from the back of her throat came a long slow hummmmm. Bird heard that hummmmm clear as heels clicking or elevator’s fly wheels catching their breath. It was all music. Flowed into that damned horn and hit the groin making new music bullets scatter gun. The vulnerable ducked. The guilty ran laughing crazily. In the moment of peril they knew, you can’t outrun no bullets. Might as well laugh and wait for the next shattering note. Aw man, Bird just messing with you. Like the one hand match trick. He’d turn slightly. You’d crane to see and meet that grinning sweaty smile. Yeah, he was like that. But cruel too. Steal your whiskey, horn and women. But, this ain’t about him. It’s about that little wisp of air behind the pallette waiting, waiting to dive into the neck of that damned horn and emerge spraying be bopping music bullets. Sounds that made Little John Farley glide and fast shuffle like the Nicholas Brothers. but down the road, those bullets, that life, that sound, took Little John just like they took Bird and others down, down, down. Can music bullets kill you? Like I said, depends. Miss Mattie, Miss Mattie you seen them boys them music bullets today?