Sunday, February 09, 2014

***Poet’s Corner- Langston Hughes 

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

February is Black History Month

Trumpet Player

Trumpet Player

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has dark moons of weariness
Beneath his eyes
where the smoldering memory
of slave ships
Blazed to the crack of whips
about thighs

The negro
with the trumpet at his lips
has a head of vibrant hair
tamed down,
patent-leathered now
until it gleams
like jet-
were jet a crown

the music
from the trumpet at his lips
is honey
mixed with liquid fire
the rhythm
from the trumpet at his lips
is ecstasy
distilled from old desire-

that is longing for the moon
where the moonlight's but a spotlight
in his eyes,
that is longing for the sea
where the sea's a bar-glass
sucker size

The Negro
with the trumpet at his lips
whose jacket
Has a fine one-button roll,
does not know
upon what riff the music slips

It's hypodermic needle
to his soul
but softly
as the tune comes from his throat
mellows to a golden note

Langston Hughes

Shorty Blast (not his real name , his stage moniker that was all, the reason for the ruse will be mentioned below but was since he was working the New York café society crowd and needed to have a cabaret license a necessary moniker ) dreamed his eternal great big fat immense high white note dream, dreamed it incessantly, dreamed it right then while he was playing, horn splish-splash playing, just kicks riff and raffs, little be-bop, be-bop nothings that got the customers attention and a certain nod, maybe a sent-over scotch, like the brethren knew, hell, knew anything about high white notes or anything. Just then he was dribbling for the early arrivers (and early leavers, the six in the morning wakers, hah, his bedtime, jesus what do they do all day but wait upon the night, their own version of the high white note night), the quick scotch and soda crowd before the night bleeds, bleeds all Mayfair white around eleven (and the real stuff, after hours after two, when the clubs let out and the boys play for each other, and to beat each other, to tag off some phantom riffs ) at this Red Fez gig that he had been working, working for a couple of months now to keep body and soul together and to keep Mister Landlord, a not very understanding fellow, from his door, and to keep the former Mrs. Blast far, far away from his door (and his latest paramour, Miss Lucille Pratt close). Yes, he dreamed of that high white note, dreamed when or where or how it would come but never, never that it would not come because , he, frankly, frankly you hear, brothers and sisters, had the sheer lung power and muse-magic to turn that big fat note on a dime.

And so this night, this could be night, Shorty did, as he always work did, once he had a few house scotches in him, or maybe some godsend reefer to change the pace if one of the boys scored (he, having been burnt once with a small container and done a couple up at state prison was not the scorer any more, no way, not that dream note still out there). He knew that the note could come out at the Red Fez, the Hi Hat Club, maybe at some wicked jam at LoJo’s, or even while he was up in his tenement room, practicing ,when Miss Lucille was not around since when Miss Lucille was around, around with her wanting habits on, even Gabriel did not want to blow some funky horn but no way, no way in hell was that note coming out in Ossining town, no way, was to go into a certain state, a certain state where he was not really in the Red Fez , he was not playing for crowds, early or late, was not even in the present time but back to Mother Africa times, to Pharaoh times if anybody was asking, okay.
That Pharaoh time kick had stayed with him since about the sixth grade, yes, it was the sixth grade when he and his older brother (now resting in some European graveyard after having spilled his black brother blood against that damn Hitler) and he, they , were mesmerized by the Egyptian exhibit at the Museum Of Fine Arts in Boston where they grew up complete with pharoanic statues and wondered , wondered out loud about those slave days, about the winds rushing across the Nile, about the rapid river run of the Nile, and about some ancient sound, a sound that sounded very much like the sound that would be produced by that high white note, the note that would bring down pharaoh, bring down Mister’s thousand acre cotton fields, bring down Mister James Crow, bring down that silky smooth Mayfair swell crowd that was starting to fill up the place just then. And so Shorty played, played like Pharaoh was coming to get him, coming to take his deep breath away…

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