The Tenor Man

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,
Adjusting microphones,

Then in the middle eight
He draws, exhales, and catches breath,
Stoops forward to the mouthpiece

And blows,
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.

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The Tenor Man