It’s a feeling of holiday inside,
‘cause every time I’m with you
you aren’t funny, have less pressure
to be that rocket on stage, breaking us
into two with those cut-‘em-up skills
God signed you on for. When we’re
rappin’ I only hear your hurt shatter
like Bird sellin’ another sax for smack,
knowin’ he gon’ be back to get his
love-baby mellow soother—knowin’
he got bills, and women, and music
to support and spoon. When it’s us,
Rich, shootin’ the shit ‘bout how Bad
got us in trouble growin’ up—we’ll both
tell each other we didn’t have to follow
Bad but he had a way of gettin’ into us
gut. He’d puff his cheeks on harmonica,
get dizzy with his looseness for trouble,
and we’d come runnin’—he didn’t have
one smooth Coltrane note in him. Nawh,
he’d play a cutthroat-crossroad-sweetness
and we loved to chat and shoot our wads
with that fallin’ angel, ‘cause we knew
how if he had bones they’d rattle like ours
and he’d love the pain he’d feel for being
human, unlike us—scared to love big,
to follow our insanities. We try to hide
in our botched prayers, want only good
things, things appealing to the eyes
of others, stuff we hope to handle
on the run, and things big, red,
popped bright in glare.

Photo of John Coltrane