Miles Davis cradling his gleaming
trumpet, three black jazzmen slouched
like hipster guardian angels just
behind him. Searing coals those eyes,
as they stare out from the photo at you.
The jagged blue-black mosaic shards
of Justinian's eyes under the golden
dome of San Appollinare, unblinking there
these fifteen hundred years. Listen long
enough, and you will hear the arpeggios
those eyes attend to. Hart Crane, doomed
pilgrim that he was, surely must have heard
them. At least his songs report back
that he did, descending from the giant harp
he called the Bridge. Lorca heard it too,
his dear dark lady, moonbright pupils facing
that blind unblinking firing squad. Father
Hopkins refused our four-bar player piano
measures, listening hard instead for the strain
of plainchant groaning off the stones
of Delphi, an ancient music flaking down
the Dead Sea cells of Qumran monks, or Monte
Cassino's choir stalls, before it disappeared
into the vast insolid Void. Others too,
they say, have heard it in the timeless
vortices of time. And now, if they have
anything at all to tell me, it is this:
my time, like yours, friend, is drawing
to a close, my one ear dead since birth,
the other closing down that much more
each month. Most go about their business
day by day. They keep their heads down
or learn to simply wait. Here and there
someone points or gestures here or there.
Unheard melodies, Keats called them, eyes
ablaze, then dimming as his body fell apart.
Once my own eyes blazed, but that was then.
Too late, someone else is singing. Too late.
But the high flung bells—if anyone can or cares
to hear them—keep choiring in the haunted risen wind.