For Jazz

                Charlie Parker

Commotions in hotel lobbies, studios,
Arrests and derelictions, leading through
Psychotic wards to the cool Pacific shore.
There he was set to tend the lettuce rows,
To learn to build a wall. At the beach he blew
His alto notes against the breakers’ roar,
At night played dances at the hospital,
Innocent, refreshed, congenial.
And in the studio again, the way he ran
Through seven takes in thirty minutes—the ring,
The resonance, the happiness. He posed
With Garner and the others for the camera, the man
At ease, the smiling farm boy, eyes half-closed,
Feeling his strength in that California spring.