Richard Tee

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Fingers flying like heavy birds
across the black and whites
Erecting massive columns of music
to uphold
the sweet rasp of a saxophone,
the lazy lick of a guitar —
glissandos in work boots -
Fender Rhodes Cathedral

Lone Star
Margarita on the rocks, no salt
My body mingles into your notes
til it's playing, too;
You call me Legs and
give me fishnet stockings.
I'm hey nineteen and
you used to play with
the Queen of Soul

Seventh Avenue South.
First night I met you
We were sure dead!
You drove us back up to Columbia
in that big American car
So fast up Koch's West Side Highway
Past the Intrepid —
see those planes so small, so BIG,
out the back seat window;
scared, sure crashing any moment —
Never gone so fast in New York City
before or since!

When they told me you had died
I had been gone so long, I —
how could something like that happen
I didn't know?

I felt old felt time passing
the threat of time
Thought of your songs, laugh
Nights of White Russians
and your A Train
What would become of your A Train —
an architectural wonder more than a song
under your fingertips;
a tease...
a reverent reflection on what came before,
then a sudden explosion of Tee! all over
the black and white pages of Ellington
and when you reached Lady Madonna
it was time
- Hallelujah! -
but when you reached it,
it was almost over
the explosion receding back
into something musical,
something comforting
losing track of its own defiant existence —

a wondrous thing your A Train

and I realized
that it only existed in my mind
and Cornell's and Frank's
and Will's and Hiram's
and hers and Lou's and Denny's
and Steve's and Chris' and Cornell, Jr.'s
and all the bartenders
in all the places
you'd ever played

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