For Jazz

                Art Pepper

A damned uncompromising type was Art:
There was the early hard-nosed vanity,
In never running with the Parker pack,
In saturnine good looks, in being smart
The way a hustler has the need to be.
Then, bearing the weight of all this on his back,
Inventing a style that spoke of such a life,
Alert, short-winded, stabbing like a knife.
At last the prison-pale, crop-haired survivor,
With eyes that had seen it all, and still intent
On his choice of ways to drive himself to hell.
The night when he and Stitt allowed no favor,
But each played everything he knew, this meant
Far more than health, than life, this thing he could do well.