Pottering around the stage,
A hyperactive ancient in his own backyard –
Independent of the band it seems.
Disrhythmic shuffling of ashtray,
Beer, a pack of cigarettes,
Then in the middle eight
He draws, exhales, and catches breath,
Stoops forward to the mouthpiece
a tumbling counterpoint,
Scales soaring from his horn.
The melody flows
Until the break,
And then he shoulders arms,
A truce between the music and his ailing lungs.
Between choruses he sits apart
To light another cigarette,
A sideman counting out the bars
Until he rises for the coda –
This Lazarus of swing.