he blows proud at stadiums
on gamedays both home and away.
alongside piccolo and glockenspiel
he marches into the script noun
that is Ohio on my television.
then: the players take the field.
during an accidental conversation
about pigment in class today
he announces, blacks are getting paler
and paler every year. yes—I am
adjunct to this unattractive
teenager with a modern head of hair
who is unafraid of his final grade
because he knows at this college
I work for him. before treading
carefully a reply, he doubles down,
producing the brass from its case
and leading his peers up and down
the aisles banging refillable pencils
and cellular tambourines in victory song.
I climb inside the dry erase board
and take shelter amid the white
nothingness: when I was eleven, my father
took me to the Beacon Theatre to witness
a man named Miles Davis. because
he said, he’s going to die soon.
and over the next hour I listened
to jazz for the first time in my life. sounds
like glass crackling fire shattering—
with sunglasses indoors, wide forehead
and Jheri Curl, Miles gleamed beneath
the house lights as he sauntered
up and down the stage touching
that gold weapon to his lips, coaxing
from it imposing premonitions.
on Broadway afterward, I took hold
my father’s hand and prayed
for my own life if one as dark as his
would soon be no longer. the student
trumpeteer beckons me back with two bleeps
but I crouch low and still in his abyss
as he edges closer, weak flute lowered,
its mouth pointed wide wet
and false at the classroom floor.