Audience of One

jazz fish

A) Jazz

In the epiphany of jazz,
when the first buzz of inebriation
washes over the saxophone player
and the sounds flow through the bell
and the band and the crowded voices
swirl and eddy like the smoke
collecting us all into a deep, blue pool—
the jazz fish of a body flit and turn
at every nuance of the current
which breathes through us
and beats within us.

Tomorrow, in the breakfast teacup
of sentience, we savor the aftertaste,
the same stale smoke that the musician releases
opening his case like a dirty creel
in the stifling air of his midday motel.

B) Blue Tantra

When in the longed for undeliberate dialogue
of sex, her loins locked in rhythm to mine,
each sentence finishing on the other's lips,
each breath drawing from the other's breath
the jazz fish pair and perform their ritual mating
exchanging an immediacy,
a cool fluid
more tangible than flesh, more mutual,
less distanced than desire...
if she were here. . .

Of that first poem, wrung out so long ago,
she knew, instantly, that it was hers
and why understanding
the words are only signs, nothing more
than the alert—as before telemetry
that a message is incoming: that the wires
of telepathy are open and humming.
The music is playing out over the waterwaves
and it is time for the synchronous swimmers.

C) Retro

Amidst the singsonging of the mad tea party
the redundant clink and chatter about costs
and tennis, sanitizers and seductions—
empathy beaches, time sputters and breaks up:

A sane man is debating in an asylum.

On the streets of a crowded city
no one hears the death rattle
of a man with a punctured lung
who is drowning in blood;
the eyes at the windows, the TV's,
look on like the unimaginably distant stars.

A wounded couple has just had desperate incomplete sex.

I am calling out in an empty, rancid house
the soliloquy of the sleepwalker
in the paralytic hours of the night,
as if after a long journey one arrives
to the silence of greetings all around
and searches all the thirsty eyes
but meets with none.
I am suffocating,
becoming scaly and rank in this aridity.
My atavism is acting up again.
I want to sprout gills and fins
and flood the quiet,
ad-libbing my death,
freeform, swing-time.

D) Coda: Improvisation

According to the Gaia hypothesis
the earth is a single living organism, one
with hills for hide and trees for hair,
which buds off in animals and clouds,
which breathes the sky and sweats rain.

In Vedanta all souls are the shared life
of the one Atman reflecting itself
in a Crazy House of mirrors,
extemporizing a one-man dream-play
in the madding mind of a comatose god...
never dropping a beat.

Here, the jazz fish play.
Here, the jazz fish dance.
Listen for the count.

Kevin Cornwall © All rights reserved.

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