Draw Within the Lines

Can I show you a color?
My finger frost-bitten as I dialed
your number.  My slipping sneakers
thanked nature for trees
that grow in shale,

then punched a bass drum.
A ride’s sopranino, a snare’s
shuffle-crack flew me through
“Ornithology” above the audience.
You wanted colors,

these are colors.  Look down my finger–
the speck of Mars on the hazy skyline,
never mind the tobacco stains or
the blood on my shirt.

Think
about the cop’s mistake here in Fort Green Park
now in the Daily News, Post and Times.
Remember the night King got shot?
And I’m workin’ Warren street in Beford Sty
watching shit burn everywhere?  Or that I.A.D. crap
when one of my men fell asleep on that bench
and got his picture taken.   The captains
who did their street work in Bayside telling me
what to do during riots in my old neighborhood.  Christ.

————————————————————————-

Believe it or not, but my father was NYPD for over 24 years.  Policemen of that era didn’t talk about ‘the job’ to anyone who wasn’t a cop.  The final stanza is a compilation of the few things I he told me about (or pieced together through inference), well after he’d retired, when I worked for him cutting grass and shoveling shit as a teenager.  He was a deeply flawed person, as we all are, and his life did not turn out the way he wanted it to; mine certainly hasn’t.  My love of music (and especially jazz) came from him, though our tastes were wildly different and not just about music.  I won a local prize for this and when I showed this to them, my parents’ faces ran through a series of expressions that could only be summed up as proudly confused.

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