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Charlie Parker's telegrams to Chan Parker, on hearing of the death of their daughter

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Chan, please help me

Dropping from the wires,

a cry hangs in the air like a dustcloud

about the shoulders of the man alone

working its way into the wrinkles of his coat

the cracks of his face

filling his jowls, bending his neck

Chan, please help

In his head, he works over one word

tries it out on the lampposts, the hydrants

the curbstones

Like last night's music he explores it

with his fingertips, his tongue

mouthing, holding it like he holds the reed

of his saxophone

his lips tight on its wings, wanting

to let it fly, afraid

to lose control

Chan, help

There is a loneliness which can't be measured

that lies in wait like a shadow in a sidestreet alley

There is an emptiness that can't be weighed

that fills your eyes until they burst

like water-balloons on the sidewalk

Free from any cage, this man cannot fly

He stalks the empty dawn, chewing on his message

Pouring his life into his cry, he throws it

to the air

The Bird cries to his mate

Help


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