Ira Sadoff

The whole story was slipshod,

from working the docks of Ancona

to chasing Chet Baker around the country –

desolate, emaciated, playing all smears

and blurs, shooting up once

in the cathedral of San Ciriaco. It wasn’t music

I was after, it was a mood, black ink:

there was a balcony

where they held him over the edge, shaking

the change out of him, finally dropping him

a story or two. And where was I then,

the biography of no interest

beyond raising up massive wooden boxes

or cargo, coffins shipped from

one place to another. Our connection:

How do I get what’s coming to me?

The Roman arches, the view of the sea

so blue you could almost forgive the leaden

afternoons after work, with no one to do

in the bars: I had no art to speak of. He at least

was beautiful once, sweet-voiced, boyish –

everybody wanted him. His story was stupid,

a romance with squalor, but I wanted to steal it.

Attend to me someone: you who lent him a trumpet.

I had before me that one perfect night

in Recanati, his last, perfect as I remember it.

His “I Thought about You” completely parenthetical,

on pitch, full of ideas he got from Miles,

but it shook us enough to send me back to the States.

When the set was over he smiled, toothless, at all six of us.

I mean we didn’t want to die then, being human.







Found In Volume 45, No. 03
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Ira Sadoff
About the Author

Ira Sadoff is the author of seven collections of poetry, including Barter, and Grazing (U. of Illinois), a novel, O. Henry prize-winning short stories, and The Ira Sadoff Reader (a collection of stories, poems, and essays about contemporary poetry).