Sunday, March 9th, 2008...3:06 pm

rd armstrong | yardbird burned

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YardBird Burned (A duet written for voice and sax)
by RD Armstrong

YardBird burned
All Wick — No Candle
Made it to the sun and back
Unlike Icarus –
YardBird couldn’t burn out –
his spirit was the flame by which
HE burned.

YardBird burned
‘til there was only
a husk left
‘til all the notes –
the be-boppin’ bitty
black notes –
were piled at his feet
like cigar ash.

YardBird
swung his sax
in a mighty arc
like an ax
spinning like
a Dervish
carving
a niche
out of the
“don’t-take-it-for”
granite walls
of Swing-Jazz-Tradition.

YardBird shaped
a Bop See-gar-cough-a-gus
out of his to-brief-time
spent on planet Earth.
The Bop-line
firing volley after volley
of bitty-black notes
skyward — unleashing
them like blackbirds
blotting out reality’s
harsh light ‘til
the wee-wee hours.

YardBird was never
at ease, at rest
Fingers always a blur
accelerating
ACCELERATING
ACCELERATING
until time shifted gears
in self-defense –
into SLOW-motion then to
stand
still.
YardBird smiled ‘cause
only he saw the joke.

YardBird burned.
Did not really play
his sax — it played him
Played him until his “reed”
fell apart — broke down
disintegrated
Broke Bird down –
Time finished him
with a smile
on his face –
death by cosmic relief

You say it was H that
took his life but you
are wrong.
H lulled Mr Charley
into slowing down
Hip-no-(N)ticed him
H slowed him down –
promised him the means
to survive this heartbreak
We call surviving.

H slowed the bird down –
gave Time a clean shot.
Time took it from there.

YardBird Burns Still.

RD Armstrong
(written on the occasion of YardBird’s birthdate — Aug. 29, 1999)

RD Armstrong reading poetry for the Nevada County Poetry Series at The Center for the Arts. Yardbird burned and other poems.


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