Hideous is a word reserved for the kind
of beauty seen only by experience
when it comes you endure the scraping
of what you are on what you were.
Rubbing my scalp and hamstrings
playing through my kitchen’s air
appropriate to a cool morning
and old jazz band long dead.
In the college years of the Seventies
we had some semi-controversial history.
It was music that did not disturb
unless you actually listened to it.
My wife at the time was like that
between unobtrusive and unattractive
on the outside but what she thought
would soon sour the apple cider.
The cart before the face of the horse
had big wooden wheels often stuck
on rocks or bumps and wouldn’t turn
corners and carried pigs in duck feathers.
To the music of free-minded birds
echoing and breaking the rules of decades
before when pieces were songs and songs
came in a box and cured headaches.
At the ends of long days after working
through possible and impossible
challenges at work and school
I’d disappear into my headphones.
Calm and raucus took turns dancing
to harmonies too simply iconoclastic.
The men playing such unsuitably
gypsy noise must have been brothers.
Brothers to each other and to me
brothers in having put their shoulders
to stubborn, enchanted, cursed wheels
brothers in translating young to old.
Although I can still see her face
mostly her visage is breast and mouth
a small and heavy figure fleeced
in screechy synthesized sax.
At any given moment out of the blue
might come a chorus of ancient howls
followed by some oddly unsurprising
whirlwind of grief and insult.
Some sad part of me admits
it was a jazzy time of hits and misses
now forty years later I hear my own
angry voice in the sturm and drone.