I’ll take Manhattan the Bronx
and Staten Island too.
She’s watching the flaccid Hurricane
Irene goodnight, Irene goodnight
Her inspiration belting out
from somewhere well before her own time
It’s lovely going through the zoo.
Nothing new neither punk nor hip-hop
only the stuff of Noah, of dinosaurs,
alligators, aviaries, big cats,
in the Bronx, in this zoo,
In this place where we live
in memory, And tell me
What street compares with Mott Street
Good inquiry. When? In July?
New York City’s an awesomely huge spectacle.
In fact, The great big city’s a wondrous joy…
She can encompass this somewhere, but
…made for a girl and boy?
Could New York’s political stink and crank
actually have been created (by whom?
Boss Tweed, God?) for children?
Makes reason stare.
Now into the future We’ll bathe at Brighton
Be careful there, please, there where
In your bathing suit so thin
you’ll make the shellfish grin fin to fin
(fins on shellfish! perhaps
an anomaly from so much toxicity)
Does she have it in herself to
Take a sail on Jamaica Bay
from where she might view
the fair Canarsie Lake?
Tru dat only a poet (or a New Yorker) can
turn even those boroughs to isles of joy.
Apollo Blue’s Harp
Apollo Blue, come blow harmonica.
The blues in the meadow, the brass in the horn.
The drum hammers beating where thunder is born.
Guitar clears its throat of a twang in the morn-
ing. No time exists where the boy sucks and blows.
Harp’s spirit singing wherever he goes.
The naming was the creation down in Birmingham, Alabama
when his mam and his pap had little Buster baptized
Apollo after that theater up there in Harlem in New York.
Buster Blue would have done just fine, but so little that
Apollo Blue would grow to know might of come from it.
They gave him an accordion like little Leadbelly’d played
before he found the guitar and his own voice.
That damned squunch box, boring, too much weight
too great a deal to learn so many notes all pushing and pulling.
But that first harmonica Buster found in the gutter, Oh!
Just his lips and his breath with the blues, soul and music!
He removed the accordion, the straitjacket.
He blew and he drew on the harp he had found
that continued to find him the rest of his life.
As full days and night hours blew through and by him,
Apollo Blue feared he’d better stop blowing
or soar way too high and lose grip on the earth.
Such fear of flying to where only God knew.
His choice was to stop or learn far too much.
He made his decision to never come down.
Leaving the projects and bully boys, became
one with his harp blowing G, C, or A.
His ancient namesake, the first Apollo, tested his bowstring
preparing to kill but healed birds and stags, and
enmity rose to find its own soul
soothed and music-saved from an adverse stringed bow
transformed to good, that sort of magic Apollo Blue
could do when he bent a note, tamping it down with
slight extra pressure like a prayer or
mystic dream, as he fell under the spell of such gods
as George “Harmonica” Smith, Little Walter and more
lately, of Rod Piazza, not to mention, from the pantheon,
Sonny Boy Williamson, James Cotton, and Charlie Musselwhite.
Play on, Apollo Blue,
Benjamin Britten Conducts Before Apollo Blue in London (1968)
Billy Budd, king of the birds!
Billy Budd looking down on the world!
Ticket was gratis or he’d never have
come, but he has and is with her,
she whose money bought him as well
as a mezzanine voucher, second row.
Apollo chokes the urge to, wants to shout,
“Billy Budd, do not trust, give up your hope,
You cannot remain in the crow’s nest forever!”
Apollo prudently suffocates the words.
While Stan Getz Plays Among The Dolphins
Bossa nova girl
as silt in the Amazon
nourishing her dance,
her smile flickering
with darting piranha,
her teeth a spinet keyboard
Tiny as a fruit fly
Her dance slow,
There were more interesting things in heaven than Ricardo Montalban.”
– B.J. Novak One More Thing