John Macker: “Last Riff for Chet”

 

Last Riff for Chet

Chet Baker used to bend over
his horn like the saddest, most suffering flower
speak into it like an echo does in dream
coaxing faded blossoms from the air
gathering them in breath to the place
on earth he felt closest to
trembling with shadows
then mutate their fragrances into a
civilization of invisible words as if
every spring, trigger-fingered
April’s bent their music to the ground
coaxing forth rose after rose
their powder-burned faces
bold, fragrant, strained, maverick
delivering echo after echo.

Chet sounded the blues,
riffed circles around the discordant rainbows
of romance in the dark until 
they drifted so close
you could pluck them like strings:
standing there streetlamp insouciant 
smoking the heroin gun of Paris
blowing interstellar lullabies
working his own myth into the 
hard ground
while I’m bent over this ancient
jukebox in the Lariat Bar
hit parade reduced to a row of square
buttons I punch into entropy.

At last, I find Chet as he empties a 
chamber of pure blue language
onto a white tablecloth
opens the window to each new bloom
with his lips
as he always has,
saying something pure to the earth
knowing no surrender is a cliché.
He had chiseled features.  
There’s a plaque for him in Amsterdam
outside the Hotel
Prins Hendrik at the last spot
he soared through life
on his way  
to the ground.

 

About the Author: John Macker’s latest books are Atlas of Wolves (Stubborn Mule Press, 2019) and The Blues Drink Your Dreams Away: Selected Poems 1983-2018 (Stubborn Mule Press, 2018 and a finalist for a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award.) Macker has lived in Northern New Mexico for 24 years.

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