I called for a pitch
and he heard me call him a bitch
(and he is).
I know this song inside out,
yet the third verse lyrics evaporate
leaving me to scat the melody.
Should I quit my gig at the knife club?
My experienced lungs have power
to hold notes higher
than a diving board, longer than a river.
The music may be better wordless, now
that wrong words spill out of my mouth.
My tongue and teeth have become
more honest than my brain,
my hearing truer than fact.
My fumbler and meddler raised me
to be precise. Though my lips stumble,
my reading of Chinese and Japanese is butter.
This midlife transition symptom is a phase
called Off Asia—and it is much
like riffing off ideograms.
Ki is four strokes that show a pine tree,
sidestepping our bossy temporal lobes.
What is A, anyway? A tent? A ladder?
The bitch gives me an A;
today I climb a ladder leaning on 木 —
today I swing the blues.
Published in Gargoyle