A Cold Reflection - a recording of the poem (2010-06-08)

A Cold Reflection - a single vocal take on a digital 8-track recorder over guitars and harmonica - a diatonic Blues Harp in the key of G played 'cross' in the key of D. The song is in a jump blues style, like the kind of juke joint in which the poem is set. All instruments were played by Sharp Noir.

Speak Easy.


Jazz, Bleedin' Kohl and a Howlin' Trumpet Blast

I thought it best not to pursue

the nature and causes of my illusions

when I discovered her in the mirror

behind the spirits in a stray cat jazz bar

- one where raucous chapters,

as if written by a feverish

film director, are captured

in the midnight hours by a single

wink of Kegman Kovacs,

crooked on his stool behind

his bandit register – her wide-eyed

glare was the perfect bromide

for this saloon thick with

the accents of moral dissolution:

she’d glimpsed some idyllic

future scene and the thought

remained flushed on her cheeks.

As the creator of this ideal

enlivened with eloquent details,

excerpts from classic fiction

(encouraging second guesses

from Pulitzer marksmen,

compelling in their list-making),

this glossy idol of bourgeois

abstraction feigning realism,

I choose a road that is straight

and narrow, I don’t even need

to determine the direction

I travel – I’m not going back;

She consistently suggests movement,

accompanied by a leitmotif:

the howling blast of a trumpet,

a complex enigma coded

by a triad of valves and the bitter

freedom of a private life

released from public silence.

All this time I accept

she is not next to me

but on stage, amber candent

bulbs warming her face.

The band is her gang:

a vicious platoon enlisted

as a tragic ballast drilled by a single

ambitious woman. An artist,

my essence in my creative capacity,

I hold no monopoly on integrity,

forgetting the monologue,

remembering only the speaker

from the imbecile chaos

of the boot-heel chipped oak floor.

We for the minute are her closest

friends like a chance collection

of driftwood, our scepticism

relinquished from our malt,

for our craving to believe

is desperate and deep.

We beg for reward

like the queue for a soup kitchen

and with just as much dignity.

She offers a flash of information

ripe with sexual suggestion,

the grand spectrum

from love to anger painted

with a vast collection

of colours. This sylph

singing for us, a siren on a cliff

ready to wreck our passing ship,

bewildered by the obscure guilt

of a burgeoning, heated affair,

defending herself

from token wisdom

with a sinister wit emanating

from behind the flash of her teeth

across a twelve-bar riff,

displaying the dagger

but masking its poisoned

flavour with the hilt

In a slow section she leaves a kiss

on the gauze of her microphone,

a blood red smear of lipstick

- she came to sing for them

but she dances for me, hanging

on behind her with my guitar

slung like a weapon.

Before we began she only gave

me a key and a couple clicks

for the rhythm.

My turn, I sharpen my razor wires

on each flinching hat,

a trembling ride, a nickel

wound shake to every kick

from the ground. There’s

alleyway justice in my screams:

a cut to the face if you stray

from your station, every time

I break rank I fear ambush at Cerriglio.

I dissect your mood for the crowd

and find a tune for the words

she couldn’t place but now

lie naked on my operating table.

Bleeding kohl down her cheeks

She smiles at me, having forgotten

the people listening unaware

of the true purpose of our plot.