The smell of wine takes me back
To finger snapping days
When I thought I was a beatnik
Down in clubs filled with smoky haze.
Nodding so cool
Swaying gently with the beat
Pop your fingers when they’re done
Don’t clap, just pat your feet.
Beret bedecked
In a tight black turtleneck
Wearing sunglasses after dark
Walking barefoot in the park
The sounds of my soul was jazz.
Taboo was the perfume I wore
When my world was bookstores, boutiques and art galleries
Days spent sketching sail boats on the Lakeshore
Nights carrying really good fake ID.
When I stayed up too late
Trusted too easy
Cried too hard
Yearned for my soul’s mate
I was decades late, dollars short
Playing Miles and all his cohorts
While the Beatles experimented with the blues
But my heart said it was all a ruse
The currency of my nights was jazz.
When I should have been home asleep
I wandered into adulthood
On an El train ride without a map
Playing Holly Go Lightly on the cheap
Cinderella of the Birdhouse Lounge,
Barbarosa’s, Mr. Kelly’s and the Sugar Shack
The lubricant of my pretense was jazz.
Muddy Waters played our prom
The night before Lyndon Johnson sent my boy off to Vietnam
Nat King Cole crooned Nature Boy
And Lady Day’s voice always gave me the shivers
Howling Wolf gigged the Showboat lounge
Floating down the Chicago River
Now that the sets are over
The instruments put away
It’s been quite a day
The joy of my life is a Good Night’s jazz.

✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

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