Disassembled Parts of a Bass Clarinet
I.
  
Aerophone. Overblow. Grenadilla. Cylindrical bore. 
Sassafras. Contrabass. Orange tiger. Roar. 
  
Harry Carney. Half-hole. Bitches Brew. Resin. 
Cousin Mary. Eric Dolphy. Grapefruit stew. Rosin. 
  
Neither a dry sound, nor the white ricepaper mask, 
But, swallowing the moon, the notes drink like grapes. 
  
The Newark photographer says that when he was a kid,  
There were 12 or 13 movie theaters downtown.  
  
Now, only a tiny porn theatre, a spit’s distance from the Museum,  
Shows octaves of skin. Part of the lip stretches behind the knee,  
  
Smooth as a Mercury reissue, and the precipice, glistening  
Like a roll’s glaze, has been pushed up and down across  
  
Sarah Vaughan’s orgasmic “Uh” noise at 2:35 in “Body and Soul.” 
The Dogon wear purple fringes, and their pearl millet 
  
Sing vessels of donkeys bearing caryatids, like the sandstone 
Bandiagara all rectilinear with masks secured by the teeth. 
  
Four flutes roll off their center; the cake’s filling, plastered 
(Not a sigh, exactly longer) are references to barbecued peaches. 
  
White and red altars catch clouds…is that what Braxton means? 
I shook hands with Elvin Jones, and with Lawrence D. “Butch” Morris. 
  
The cavernous filaments of the downtown room, like a limb 
Soaking in a barrel. An article said: The amount of female granaries  
  
Is an indication for the amount of women living in the guinna. 
Little Richard, with his nougat-like pomade, yelled the girl can’t help it. 
  
Coltrane, likewise, said whatever he’d say about Eric Dolphy 
Would be understatement. Newark’s dry-rot and magnesium  
  
Flares show litter, and the bare branches of a maple. Some looters  
Return with armfuls of candy, Kool-Aid, and water guns. 
  
The late photo of Sarah Vaughan shows black triangles  
Arranged like a batman villainess. Years ago her carefree loafers  
  
And red Parisian mime stripes swung easy. The liner notes reveal  
“That she could have succeeded in the classical field.” 
  
Wayne Shorter would say 'What’s happenin'?' and she’d say 'Newark,'  
And that was enough, ‘cause you know what Newark does to people. 
  
Mel Torme reports that she got kind of huffy when he said “operatic”  
And then she said “Do you mean jazz isn’t legit?” 
  
You might say that powders are being crushed in the mortar, 
Where some of the purple splays like limbs, the embracing limbs. 
  
For a while poetry did not interest me, with its flailing, 
Corruption, boredom, obsequiousness, and general green color. 
  
It was a cloak used for taunting by everyone, assholes all. 
Flaubert thought the same thing about the bourgeoisie.  
  
Nothing is ever the same as they said it was. 
Blue lights of her hair, vertical, the gray pearls of her neck, 
  
Delightful, to the place—better or worse—where eyes penetrate. 
Bare forks, glitter swan glasses, hiding among the bushes.  
  
Sort of feeling your way. Arbus said, the hand is the cutting  
Edge of the mind. Flawed animals. Meat and buns and slaw. 
  
She sort of lifted up her hips so the rims of the bones 
Were elevated, a sort of handsclasp, of “braided chestnut” 
  
Then, a wordless moan, like the pink tent you traverse— 
Rather than nonvocal to the bone, she pulled his shoulders 
  
Forward, hovering. During rehearsal the wordless word was loosely 
Creased, where the lowest part of the hip is hooked to the curve. 
  
Roland Kirk’s “No Tonic Pres” has a double meaning: 
The first note in the scale and the double gin Lester Young 
  
Was drinking without quinine water, circumference of lemon 
Like the brim of the hat, blooming into focus in Gjon Mili’s film. 
  
I gathered dry kindling on the snowy mountain slope,  
White were the branches gathered in my hand. 
  
Wood has dropped its pieces, with trees along the way, 
Where the couple walks the trail inside the creamy sand. 
  
The bassist said the action on the bass was high, 
Vertically so, so that the elastic boom made for instant decay. 
  
Threadgill says tubas can control the decay and attack. 
Tubas blend with everything, whereas the bass doesn’t blend. 
  
Brass will cut through anything. You have to wait on the bass. 
A tuba player, he says, can shut it down, ‘cause it’s wind. 
  
The bass player said during a long jam, he never 
Gets a break. The glass of Pepsi has water already 

Dripping down the side of the glass. From the ice 
Skating in the armful of warm air. A woman bends 
  
To pat a multi-striped cat, liquid grey, who prances 
Between the aisles, listless and revolting with mystery. 
  
She loves the horrendous creature, whose eyes glow 
Yellow like a vial of Pernod. Its tail upright 
  
Plucking an e-minor because the story has become  
More complicated than when we left the house. 
  
Miles played in Tokyo and then Berlin, former 
Scorched sectors alighted in the terror-bots’ scopes. 
  
In Tokyo on March 9, 1945 we (Americans) burned to death 
100,000 people in a single night; men, women, children. 
  
On July 14, 1964, Sam Rivers channeled T-Bone Walker 
Among the velvet echoes at Kohseinenkin Hall. 
  
The Dogon say that we should remember: 
God has no external ears. She cups her hands. 
  
Babies are like water flowers who devour 
The cool leaves from the tubs of their eyes. 
  
Our ways of living differ.  
  
  
II.
  
Think of swagger’s on-off switch. 
Weldon Irvine said: Many of the young rappers  
  
Got disconnected from a tradition of protest  
And decided to rap about mayhem  
  
In order to get paid. You can tell the political 
Orientation of the bus driver by whether 
  
He says “Lenox Avenue” or “Malcolm X 
Boulevard” when he announces the stop. 
  
The large blue and white wheels slap 
The painted curb, covered with slush. 
  
November ’80. I walk to school  
Not knowing how to play with. 
  
I decided, not unlike John Gilmore 
At Birdland 1956, to play contra. 
  
We play against everything, 
In the blaze of a hearth. 
  
We got the concept. We got 
The concept. We got conceptual. 
  
I am on East 80th Street. The whir 
Of pigeons have delicate lavender 
  
Pockets around their eyes. 
They ground themselves and a spring 
  
Of city dust is a pillowy aplomb 
Among the air’s granules. 
  
Of a city, and its puzzle pieces 
Many-tongued, embraceable. 
  
Two men are dancing in a bar.  
It’s 11:30 according to the wall’s  
  
  
Cold Aged “Genesee Beer” clock.  
They are dressed in 1980 styles: velour  
  
And floppy, existential caps. The shadows  
Of the men’s bodies are cast  
  
On the jukebox behind and their joy. 
What do you know about the forgotten ones? 
  
Try to understand the beautiful bodies, 
Peeling paint, and upturned peaches 
  
From a Marxist perspective. Why this city 
Detritus, denotations and detonations? 
  
Why the snail shell, uncomfortable water, 
The caramel tone of Sarah Vaughan 
  
And the air is punctuated by wings? 
Instead of limbs, wings slice through 
  
At 80 degrees, assaulting through 
The sky’s catapult, salted & polychrome. 
  
I would like to be away from 1980 
For a while, and see its chemical pinks 
  
Dripping from the unfeeling dinosaur 
Eye of the iridescent pigeons, 
  
Another time, from above or below. 
I will not take my father’s footsteps. 
  
A miner’s helmet with its bulb  
Peers through the tack and driftwood. 
  
Around a wall, the light bounces 
On a mirror with its white cotton. 
  
You are encased in the city’s 
Steel tub. Washboard, scrap, 
  
Empty grape drink bottle. 
Frail, fall, literal. Burnished. 
  
Do you feel the calm 
Chewing the marrow 
  
From the gains the city has made? 
  
  
III.
 
A halved city moves 
along the mouth of a canal. 
You are living inside its corridors, 
breathing the air shaft’s smell 
of a fishbone. Your limbs reach 
across the threshold, 
down the hallway of metal doors. 
It is that multihued avenue 
that comes at the park’s edge 
after a mollusk’s snowdrift 
away from the window mottled  
jamb’s coded, inconceivable rust, 
the pigeons’ peppery throats 
blush like sorcerers bending the tab 
rings of their cans, and all echoes. 
It is not only pushers and gathering 
places, storefront churches, crates of apples. 
We should not be east of the park, 
but no one knows we’re here, 
if it is the Paradise or the Omni 
swaying along the velvet curtain of the sky. 
Beyond the rooftops, I see 
the families create a father’s 
day picnic out of a card table, boombox, 
a ginger ale, boxes of chicken, 
a dominoes game clamped to a dude’s lecture. 
I would run from the 125th Street station 
down the sustained line of the sidewalk,  
and wait for the elevator that stops 
to raise its pulley and flywheel 
and drop my trapezoid body, 
and race to the apartment 
to caress your hair, 
or to let up or simply hold on. 
It is a familiar curvature. 
The place is a valley, the cathedral’s east. 
The same streets reach out 
in the same places, to open 
the same mirrored lobbies. 
We arrive at the place 
where the wife relaxes 
and folds her legs on the floor 
in conjecture 
at all the sidewalks traversed. 
She has me, a partner who knows 
that her memories are bubbles, 
that we see a farfetched capital lift, 
and break through tenements 
and wish like a creed, 
we would travel along riffs and octaves, 
to hear the doorbells and bird coos 
or feel the extraordinary orange 
of the Florida sun, a woman 
clutching an orange pill bottle, 
and we go along the snakelike namesakes 
and the keratin hooves of the city 
can always relieve us, 
we have people sitting around 
understanding the bubbles’ gloss 
anywhere the fragile, numb inheritances 
answer the launching terrors  
her axes and closet doors she remembers 
we will burst them all along. 
Copyright © 2004–2017 Memorious