By Jedediah Smith

Does the Wail Diminish?
            elegy for Miles Davis

You were a Hell Hound
howling at the moon
on a moonless night,

had enough bad taste
to believe in your own existence
despite every authority’s proof
.         that you were gone.
Pouring out the empty spaces between notes
like the sacramental wine in a goblet of solid brass
– sounding, like a bell
.         in the bass
                   of an ocean
                                  orchestra.

While others waited for eternity
to rest on their eyelids,
you blinked it away like sweat
.         – face abstracted to the melody.
Your look distracted, the handwriting
of your special concentration.

Five bluebirds turning on a single wing,
feathers flicking in unison.

Not a mad Ahab on the bow
seeking to screw the inscrutable
but the whale itself, sounding deeper into mystery
       trailing only one thin wail-line, threatening
to drag us with you.

Our universal minister of culture,
on the night after your breath was finally diminished
.         your final rest stop, uncommon time
one last growl from your long-smashed vocal chords
.         “So What,” says the turntable,
minister to us forever.

 

VIA NEGATIVA

I don’t believe Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo, despite their massive consumption of                      pic-a-nic baskets, are responsible for the global greenhouse effect

I don’t believe Wile E. Coyote is using Acme technology to engineer highly                          disruptive cyber-attacks on critical U.S. infrastructure

I don’t believe Betty Boop’s hula-tastic undulations incited Boko Haram                               kidnappings

I don’t believe Batman led the NSA’s program of bulk data collection of
       Americans’ phone and internet records on his Batcomputer

I don’t believe Josie and the Pussycats, those proto-punk doyennes of
.       Bubastic sistra shaking delight, are responsible for Ann Coulter,
     Iggy Azalea, or twerking

I don’t believe Donald Duck’s ataxic speech disorders led to the Supreme
.       Court’s conflation of free speech and cash

I don’t believe Atom Ant caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster; but,
       since 733,000 curies of radioactive cesium were pumped into the Pacific
       and 56 percent of all fish catches off Japan are now contaminated with it,
.        Aquaman does

I don’t believe Dr. Benton Quest ever cooked meth in a Fresno duplex
.        searching for the perfect somatic dark eternity on the moon

I don’t believe Terry, Pat, Connie Confucius, or even the pirates bankrupted
     Detroit and drove families from their homes

I don’t believe I have ever chosen The Sean Hannity Show or ANY Nightly
 .       News over Looney Tunes because the Tasmanian Devil was a truly
      revolutionary mammal and Bugs Bunny was a bodacious drag queen

And I don’t believe what I do believe matters unless it brings us together in
     love like Tex Avery’s Big Bad Wolf, exploding in passion, reassembling
     with clangs and clacks like a steaming freight train, then running faster
     than the frame of film for just one chance at Red Hot love

 

Sonnet Beginning with Lines by Milarepa

The purified essence of moving
energy is like an eagle flying.
Or a monkey limping:
Hanuman seeking herbs on the mountain
failed
so brought the whole mountain.

_______________________________________

Every word on the page
is pain
coming or going
seeking or striking
each brings its own blood type
running down the paper.

_______________________________________

Hanuman’s foot bled from an arrow strike
so he held the mountain, and flew.


Jedediah Smith is a poet and novelist living in Pacheco, California. He is the former editor of The Kerouac Connection. His poems and stories have appeared in Chiron Review, Ekphrastic Review, Mojave River Review, Haibun Journal, and California Quarterly. His first collection of poems, entitled The Gunslinger in Technicolor, is forthcoming in 2020 from Mount Diablo Press.