Mr Jay McShann hired Charlie Parker,
Bird, that soul-swinging jazz Icarus
whose sun rise left him in the gutter.

Call it a grand city palace,
home of some minor royal patron,
but in a wider sense still a gutter

if you can't be called Mister
or pee in a men's room in your own town.
Maybe you fly with needles,
eyes rolling mad, your ax blown
in frenzied staccato fantasies
or dripped moan-smooth in ballads.

It's all blues. You get blown
every which way, but some people
just don't seem to comprehend
that even this desecration
is spirit, produces infinite beauty.

Mr McShann said
you see the blues is not about feelin bad:
it's a way to get feelin good,
and Papa Jo said
Jazz is our religion,

which makes Bird a martyr.
Sacred, sacred.

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