Mr. Hendrix ballyhoos a hubbub. He rounds
lapsed time over a bass line, detonates drum mutinies.
Maestro divvies Red Seas into sound.
Coo and cough flag their wings, easy
in the weather of his guitar. Sleet, cloudclap, madness—
all stratocast between major chords.
Contents of a fretted shaker strained over ice,
Ah, perfection of switching promises and rewards!
Notes skitter, decamp their oases
to a Jerusalem divided in blood.
Jimi’s fingers trill the timing. He’s aglow as
cat fur smoked on a sunlit car hood;
he’s mink as a milk-fed mouse lolling in the granary.
He’s gnawed by the eventuality
that all will be hellish, all manner of things
ruled by a luciferous diablo.
O hellbird swinging
Like the moon over tidal bores! O ghetto
elevators creaking in your sleep! O breast
of Gazan mother drizzled with milk! Tugged,
confined, kept close to the vest
like an unexploded grenade.
He excavates thunder
from a kaleidoscope. A procession of bird calls
undulates under jet engine wonder.
He papers a hornet in high-hat cells.
Will Maestro blow the amps? Can his wah-wah cork the
Squash of bee noise. Moon dividing into sparks.
Okay, Dad, you listening? These bells are your freckles smashing in
time to a pulley as
it dings a flagpole
a noise you told us was the sound of a shipwrecked pirate’s bell
Now you swim forever underwater with a porcelain doll cradled in your
arms like a coral
Listen: feedback, gently blown through the amps:
It’s your voice coded in static from the vacuum tube radio on the
Before you sprouted a merman’s tail you straddled the roof, paintbrush
in hand, salt
marshes stinking left, bay water curling blue and hopeless to your right
A flapping noise—a hundred fireflies that you set free in the theater
loom hugely in matinee shadows
as they swim in front of the projector
Reverb and whistle: The decay of your eardrums, last flickering of the
your auditory nerve the day we left you alone in the icestorm, alone
forever in all the
Now hear this! Mr. Hendrix’ voice is sullen, is the unctuous, slightly
cracked voice you
in your taunting temperature would turn on women who could not help
Per your instructions at the drug store we help ourselves to boxes of
yearning and plush in their cellophane windows
Trace of Ohio now in Jimi’s twang, trace of your friend Jake
The crash cymbals rattle Jake and his coy, gee-whilikers beer breath
and spotted teeth
there where you and he exchange maraschino cherries and sales tips and
of easy women in Marietta
I sit on your double bed the four posters shorn of their swags and
curtains and you hold
the handkerchief over my nose and you say, “Blow”
Both of us turned inside out to the sad torpedo misfires in our lives
Dad this is metal hiss, a technical term. You never taught me anything
how to sleep at inappropriate moments, snore at Sunday dinner
also the importance of flossing the molars and attending to the minor
mysteries of male
The snare and the rhythm guitar have been synchronized, and your bomber
watches have been synchronized
Your sweat comes up with smell of sorties over the Philippines and the
heat of the anti-
malarial medicine that poisoned you into a padded cell in the Hartford
There’s a flute in the corner—is that you in the corner? Your shadow
adjusting the menthol rub in the vaporizer when I lay croupy and wheezy
green nylon grass and jelly bean wax?
Now— a drum thud: You turn to smooth my coverlet
Now a slash of flute and you stalk away underneath the South China Sea
Tape sizzle over headphones: Your tail fins shoosh and shoosh, you
curse and bless as
best you can under all those far fathoms