DON PULLEN AT THE ZANZIBAR BLUE JAZZ CAFE, 1994

Major Jackson


Half-past eight Don Pullen just arrived from Yellow
Springs. By his side is the African-Brazilian
Connection. If it were any later, another space,

say ďUp All Night Movie HourĒ on Channel 7,
he might have been a cartel leader snorting little mountains
of cocaine up his mutilated nostrils from behind his bureau

as he buries a flurry of silver-headed bullets into the chests
of the good guys: an arm-lock M-16 in his right hand,
a sawed-off double barrel shotgun in his left, his dead blond

girlfriend oozing globules of blood by the jacuzzi.
Nothing, no one, could be cooler balancing
all those stimulants. No one. She said she couldnít trust me,

that her ladybugs were mysteriously disappearing,
that I no longer sprinkle rose petals in her bath,
that some woman left a bouquet of scented lingerie and a burning

candelabra on our doorstep, that she was leaving, off to France,
Paris--the land of real lovers. In this club, the dim
track lights reflecting off the mirror where the bottles are

lined like a firing-line studying their targets makes
the ice, stacked on top of ice, very sexy, surprisingly beautiful
and this is my burden; I see Beauty in everything,

everywhere. How can one cringe upon hearing of a six year old
boy, snatched from a mall outside of London, two beggarly
boys luring him to the train tracks with a bag of popcorn

only to beat his head into a pulp of bad cabbage!
Smell them, holding his hand promising Candyland
in all its stripes and chutes. What chaste and immaculate evil!

Nine-fifteen, Don and the African-Brazilian have lit
into Capoiera. The berimbau string stings my eyes
already blurring cognac, my eyes trying to half-see

if that'ís my muse sitting up front, unrecognizable,
a specter. Don'ís wire fingers are scraping up
the ivory keys, off-rhythm. It doesnít matter,

the Connection agrees there's room as they sway
and fall against the ceiling, a band of white shadows
wind-whipped on a clothesline. Don's raspy hands,

more violent than a fusillade of autumn leaves falling
like paper rain in blazing reds and yellows
along East River Drive bangs, hammers away, shivers

in monstrous anarchy. Donís arms arch
like orange slices squirting on my mouthís roof,
juice everywhere. Don'ís body swings upward

and we are left less ambitious. The audience,
surveying each otherís emotions, feel the extensions;
their bodies meld into the walls, leaving a funeral

of fingerprints as they exhale back to their seats.
Ten minutes to twelve, I'ím waving a taxi like a madman.
I will tell her about tonight, tell her how a guy named Don

and his crew, The Connection destroyed scales, hacked
harmonies, banged piano keys into a mush of fudge
ice cream, all in rhythm, all in sweet, harsh contradictions.

Copyright © CrossConnect, Inc. 1996

[ POETRY INDEX | ISSUE CONTENTS | XCONNECT COVER | E-MAIL ]