Dear Michael, Dear Harper
It looks tough, but what hasn't been?
As long as "A love supreme...
a love supreme" is in my mind, I'll be okay.
Entering the room, eyeing the turnout
of mostly white people, I know what's
going on: it's the usual academic nuts
and their students, who have to be here,
and the locals, whom the schoolboys ignore.
I'm like Charlie Parker, or John Coltrane:
Suddenly admitted, permitted to be in the
almost private white world--and they'll
be amazed to hear about simple things
like Bessie Smith (whom I can say I heard) sing
about wishing she was dead, and trying
when you can't try no more
and begging the Lord to take her
last train. Lord, let this be my last pain.
"Lord, let me take my last train."
I'll tell how I lost my baby,
and see if they're listening by then
to the only song I hear: "A love supreme,
a love supreme." How I lost Coltrane
and the others to drink, or smack.
How I almost lost you, and all that I love.
Simple things; some I'll need to explain--
How a horn's bent notes at midnight can
teach you just about everything you'll ever need
to know--Bird knew it; I heard it--
About being down, and hoping death
is better than life, about the last train
and the last pain being near; and how
"A love supreme, a love supreme"
used to make the dancers move.
Copyright © Ramón E. Martinez, 1999, 2009. All Rights Reserved.
Ramón E. Martínez
Ramón E. Martínez grew up in New Mexico and Arizona. Poems from his full-length collection, The Receipt of Fern Seed have appeared in: A Poetry Mag, American Poetry Review, Balcones, Bilingual Review, Black Warrior Review, Cape Rock, Century, Contact II, Croton Review, Gila Review, Glens Falls Review, Graham House Review, The Greenfield Review, Inlet, Inscape, Panoply, Rio Grande Writer's Newsletter, Riversedge, Víaztlan, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He is currently seeking a publisher for The Receipt of Fern Seed.
View all articles by Ramón E. Martínez