Saturday, February 22, 2014

To Jimmy Santiago Baca . . .

To Jimmy Santiago Baca, In The House Tonight
by Albert De Genova

The open-mic graffiti poets posture
for the Buddha, master in the audience.
He listens, applauds, drinks
But tonight
words swirl around the writer’s head
like ice cubes in his glass, like
updrafts of circling snow outside.
He asks me to play,
play my saxophone
a song for his brother
the brother who died
just winter days ago.

"Play a song for me, play
a song for my brother
who was murdered.
Play a song because
there are things in a life
that you can’t get over.
My mother was murdered
my father was murdered
and now
my brother --
there are things in a life
that you cannot get over."

He closes his eyes to say this,
he kisses his hands held as in prayer.
"Faith in the Virgin of Guadeloupe,
better than the trigger I pulled
the cold blood I shed
angry lives ago."

My fingers find the keys, stumble
into Amazing Grace
and spiral into a freefall of blue notes
that is a dead brother.
There are things in a life
you cannot get over,
that make
this poet’s poems.
No burning need
for an open microphone
or polite applause
only the request
for a song
this January night--
there are things in a life
you cannot get over.

~ first published in Back Beat (Cross+Roads Press)