Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931)

January, 1926

China Boy. Lazy Daddy. Cryin' All Day.

He dreamed he played the notes so slowly that

they hovered in the air above the crowd

and shimmered like a neon sign. But no,

the club stayed dark, trays clattered in the kitchen,

people drank and went on talking. He watched

the smoke drift from a woman's cigarette

and slowly circle up across the room

until the ceiling fan blades chopped it up.

A face, a young girl's face, looked up at him,

the stupid face of small-town innocence.

He smiled her way and wondered who she was.

He looked again and saw the face was his.

He woke up then. His head still hurt from drinking,

Jimmy was driving. Tram was still asleep.

Where were they anyway? Near Davenport?

There was no distance in these open fields--

only time, time marked by a farmhouse

or a barn, a tin-topped silo or a tree,

some momentary silhouette against

the endless, empty fields of snow.

He lit a cigarette and closed his eyes.

The best years of his life! The Boring Twenties.

He watched the morning break across the snow.

Would heaven be as white as Iowa?

—Dana Gioia

#jazz #poetry #poem #poems #danagioia #bixbeiderbecke

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