What The Trumpeteer Knows

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

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.