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FURTHER READING
Poems by Joshua Weiner
Mongrel Death Blues
Psalm
The Not-Yet Child
Related Prose
Emerging Poet: On Joshua Weiner
by Tom Sleigh
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Art Pepper

 
by Joshua Weiner

Scared boy, he even fled a cloud
reminding him of what might happen

when his father returned from sea,
wasted, to find him perhaps again

locked out in the cold, waiting
for other drinkers to come home

(his mother, her lover)--the catalysis
of routine violence passing close

like a storm cloud insisting rain;
until the rain did fall

and the father left, returning though
once with a clarinet . . . 

And when the cloud came back
in the sound of a memory

the boy had grown, had learned
to let it swell into the note

he now holds in me

as a laser reads his tone
mastered for fidelity--

sweet prismatic splinter and 
swing, a double-timing scrape

aiming for my ear 
alone in a rented chamber.

Nowhere, 
       and I'm with him,

fully in tune as if he stood
hot before me, his life

seeming no more dear to him
than the sax he hawked

for any kind of syrup
he hoped might creep into his heart

like fucked-up love that felt like love
in the belly meadow warmth of his measured joy.

Hungry Art, Art of wind,
of lips upon the reed;

Art of blue, foolish Art,
would you be so nice to come home to?--

Bragging his genius
for a time turned rancid in San Quentin,

swaggering with a ripped-off thuggery honor
and sick with the terror of not seeming criminal . . . 

White man junky thief
whose skin glowed narco-green

with the sound of Keats
amped through Pound

I repeat his name

jacked-in to the straight 
blowing of a life

clarifying 
like butter over flame:

what's home, where's harm;
how to fix; how praise--

Lover, come back to me.
Why are we afraid?






From The World's Room by Joshua Weiner, published by the University of Chicago Press. Copyright © 2001 by Joshua Weiner. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights reserved.
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