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This poem first appeared in The Antioch Review, Winter 2014 issue.




AROUND MIDNIGHT

by Ralph Tejeda Wilson			


	And here I am thinking a thought. 
	I'm thinking & drinking & feeling blue.  I'm feeling blue, and 
it ain't around midnight. It's later than midnight. Darker than midnight. 
Darker than me feeling blue, than me feeling brown, than me feeling down, 
than me feeling half-Mexican.  	
        And I've been feeling half-Mexican all damn day. 
	I've been working and playing hard and somewhere along the way 
tore some cartilage requiring some stitching, some hydrocodone & sitting 
still, and now listening to some jazz and blues: to Coltrane, Miles, Theloni-
ous, and poor Chet Baker packed in ice. 
	Meaning them, meaning myself. 
	Who can't heal under the poultice poured from a pure horn? Who 
can't heal under the weave of Monk's bandaged fingers as they pluck the 
bones down to the song, to the fret and stammer and stop of the ivory keys 
God keeps dangling down & down & down.
	 Blues is for keeping, but jazz is for getting up, 
							Mama said
at least in dream where I kept it with the coats of many colors
and prophecies of uncles that the half-brown boy by way of Anglo-sax
would never steer deeper than this steady mud.	
							What'd you'd think
the weddo was thinking? 
		  All this time steeping myself in the classics: living my 
lush life straight with no chaser, getting lost among autumn leaves & funny 
valentines, and drinking in that bitches’ brew (which was not one of my 
favorite things), until I finally caught the blue train & fell right into a love 
supreme.
							Do you drift & get the drift
 of the play & patter of that fat sweet horn? 
						Do you get the drift 
under your feet, maybe onto the floor, or figure, if you're a fat cat, the fix 
laid in of eight balls or teen-agers dancing the dirty cut 
						anyways unto their own sublimes?
		Meanwhile Miles is climbing & climbing
farther & farther out, chasing Bird or bluing 
				dreamily into empty spaces where meaning flowers 
between the notes & brass begins to melt 
				under the hush of the high-hat & brush brush brush 
of the lambskin snare soft as a lotus petal where my mind keeps going 
        on toward almond skin and Cupid’s lips 
& white or brown some swinging hips 
                                 coming back to me like Buddha or maybe 
Basho under his banana tree whittling down to seventeen syllables the sentiment
        meant 
the same way Miles is breathing each note through the temple bell of his horn.  
	Who can't heal under the poultice poured from a pure horn? 
Who can't walk out to meet John wading in the river? 
							Meaning Coltrane 
and/or my love of the contrary inside the coincidental,
                                 which is just the kind of shit one says
on hydrocodone without a filter, while listening to Coltrane 
becoming contrary inside the coincidental. 
						That fat sweet horn
has got my number: which is three for no other reason than the Biblical
& umbilical lack of attention I keep feeling I have not received.  
								A love supreme,
a love supreme, a love supreme . . . .
				And the rhythm of rain falling on the slats of 
the porch & roof.  And now some thunder & the weatherman on muted TV 
tracking funnels across Alabama, as I lie here in bed, crutches against the 
wall, a glass of gin on the night table & an endless loop of Coltrane, Miles, 
Thelonious, and poor Chet Baker packed in ice, meaning them, meaning 
myself falling down the rabbit hole toward morning.

								For Jeff Cebulski


***

Ralph Tejeda WilsonRalph Tejeda Wilson is a Professor of English at Kennesaw State University and a graduate faculty member of the Masters of Arts in Professional Writing program. He was awarded the Georgia Author of the Year Award for Poetry in 2002 for his book, A Black Bridge (University of Nevada Press). He has published work in numerous literary journals.

© 2015 The Antioch Review

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