Monday, June 19, 2006

Dan Masterson

TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOR

~informed by Estes’ painting: “Supreme Hardware, 1973”~

(“Spider Thompson, the legendary saxophonist, was paroled
from Attica State Prison yesterday and nearly caused a riot as
he led hundreds of revelers in and out of jazz bars on West
Genesee. The scene, according to one police officer walking
his beat, resembled a giddy jailbreak.” -Buffalo News, 1951)

The iron gates of The Kitty Kat Klub slam open
& in comes Spider, head back, grunting, screeching,
Honking out his trademark version of Bostic’s “Flamingo,”
A pied piper throng of locals at his heels, pushing
Its way past the bouncers as Spider climbs the bar,

Strutting his stuff twice round before stepping
Off in mid air for his gliding split & slow-count rise,
Dancing off through the kitchen & down the cellar
Stairs to the Tunnel of Love where he blows fourteen
Private doors off their hinges: half-dressed hookers

Joining the parade, trailed by johns stumbling
Into their trousers on a one-legged romp, the line
Worming its way down the corridor & up the ramp
Where Spider takes The Riff Raff Room like a house
Afire, patrons chanting his name, trying not to

Be trampled; then out into traffic he goes & leaps
Aboard a cross-town bus, its riders on their feet,
Following him out the back door where neighbors
Lean from windows & hang from fire escapes,
Swerving to the melody of their prodigal son

As he roars through the broken door of The Hot Spot
To do his bar-top back-&-forth, customers grabbing
Their drinks, clearing a path for his patent-leather boots
That flick a dazzling black light in their eyes, his veins
Bulging like a hangman’s noose at full drop.