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Ed Roberson

pick him up and take him to the jail

 

 

 

American Jazz Quartet

 

 

1.   piano

 

      In the Lobby, Not the Doorman

 

 

      In the evening when people are returning home

anxious to abandon the strain of these attentions,

he comes downstairs from his apartment

and stakes out the bench in the lobby

by the elevators where he has everybody

who enters the building trapped

into socializing with him, if by even

no more than an annoyed nod and a tired

look away from a cheer come of the predatory.

      Their dresses, how good they look, how he'll be up

for dinner at their place in a minute,

how he knows you out there makin' all that money.

      The people in this building are out there

making like he must have at one time.

Or done, made it and sat down. These floors aren't cheap.

He's harmless. But how we haunt our own success.

 

 

 

2.    bass

 

urban specific

 

 

 

standing on the corner begging

for company      a little change

 

in conversation      something different

made      of to have to come up with

 

by the see you later      or else

be in that killing

 

loneliness of a room      even on the street

stopping people      still left alone –

 

old      crime      neither poor nor disorderly

just vagrant time's       old crime of age

 

unaddressed      victim nor perpetrator    just

a man whose only empty pockets are of people

 

come around        asks if you can spare a little

while     so he can make the train home

 

 

 

3.   saxophone

 

      Then There's This One, Pick Him Up

 

 

pick him up and take him to the jail

of his winnings, take him into house arrest

up from his success, winner lifted

out of his easy to get to by people,  drive      

 

the diamond under his fingernail

up through the flesh to pimple as

his wearing and pop light in folks' eyes

having his nothing come from

 

funny money –

but a callous disease from discipline

that cuts him off is no joke 

 

no plus

size chile who's got    nor his own

he's somebody else's crime for his time

 

 

 

4.   drums

 

      Funds for Charity

 

 

An angry generosity

comes from the careless hold he has

on what little he has;

      much is taken.

   

And angered if not from that, then that

he goes along with his losses too

passively,

      too pride-hustled to question.

 

      So, he

is always wanting back,

never clear he has given, only sure

the gleaners expect too much.

 

      Then, angry resentment

at the little he has for spill

compared to that his privilege has

to flurry from      for him, for white's own

      on its white landfill,

 

that cold storm of trickle down

from coffers vast and out of reach,

privately owned as the sky,

      the deaf sky.