All the shades of blue in creation
bled from his trumpet,
his fingers nursing them
into their fullest expression:
the tenor of those tones,
like little anchored feathers,
escaped with a weight
at once crushing
and at once full of a
like an azure sky
gently stroking the land.
Martin played in the Kettledrum,
a small jazz bar in 1950s Brooklyn.
The Mississippi was on him
and in him, its dirty waters
bursting with the topaz potential
of the Delta,
where the river bled out into
a warm, and open sea
welcoming the oppressed like soft death.
He blew into the tube in that dark space
like a hoarse lion on a Prozac-lithium trip;
he reached into that brass organ
like the Oracle peering into a netherworld
of whining, flaring truth.
His playing painted the mood a deep navy
and an arm reached from the end of the trumpet,
splashing him in a patchwork of black and blue
violently, in an exchange of meat and bone.
All the luxury of jade and its resplendence,
all the depravity of easy aqua,
lives in the breath of his trumpet;
whores in the cobalt reflection of flurried notes
could be seen holding onto breathy poles;
young men crushed under a regime of unending
tiredness, death, inescape, cynicism, and helplessness
breathed out the blue crystals of life reworking itself.
Flashing from face to face, and back to Martin,
one could see the eager concentration of transition
being puffed up with warm and deliberate life.