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Tuesday, May 26, 2020


by John Azrak

I pull down my mask, gaze out over the Sound
the coastline asleep, buoys bare, the distant kayak’s
shell a streak of yellow paint; fog eclipses
the Throgs Neck Bridge and John Prine is on a jelly roll—
has been since I left the house—loose-limbed and impish
feeding the pigeons some clay, walking off his blues slyly
taking down the disheveled girl in the White House,
Lady Liberty, she must be, caught in an embarrassing situation
but—oh yes, John—a situation just the same. What you knew.
I take a deep breath, pull up the mask, adjust the AirPods—
two miles down, three to go—happy to walk with James Taylor
to Mexico then Carolina in his mind as I head to the Point
where across the sound Gatsby’s East Egg absent
the green light, Dylan conjuring the sun, sand, spirit breezes
of Mozambique, the pretty girls (so many) left behind
before off he is to imaginary Black Diamond Bay, storm brewing
verse to swelling verse until a volcano erupts that sinks the island,
all souls lost when I reach the inlet’s park, its empty picnic tables,
trash-bagged b-ball hoops, hooded like criminals on crosses,
deserted monkey bars: Misery loves company but not these days.
I forego my half-way bench (germs? really? maybe? fuck it)
under the curved spine of a dogwood I lean against, scroll through
the sleek Fitbit watch— number of steps, miles, calories burned,
numbers for the heart senseless, embarrassingly so, with nearly 100,000
Americans dead on trump’s watch—and I need to run, Sonny Rollins
blowing a heart thumping storm of his own, tribute to St. Thomas,
the no doubt about it Virgin Island, ancestral home of the young
saxophone colossus, upbeat Sonny, pulsating New York City Sonny,
now ninety Sonny still playing, plague be damned, what hasn’t he
faced up to? I think, climb the Vanlose Stairway in Copenhagen
with Van Morrison’s soul rollicking live in Montreux band
before the quick transfer to his Trans-Euro train—
Kilroy was here Kilroy was here Kilroy was here
flashing on walls hard driving Van picking up my pace
as I hop the Marrakesh Express, CSN”s sweet harmonies
broken by Dylan’s edgy longing (she might be in Tangiers)
the Slow Train Coming slowing me to a jog on the final bend,
John Prine coming back around, missing him as my heart races—
Hello in There, John, Hello

John Azrak lives in New York and has published fiction and poetry in a wide variety of literary journals and anthologies.