Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, VARIATIONS FOR A SUMMER EVENING, by MICHAEL ANANIA

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VARIATIONS FOR A SUMMER EVENING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thank you and goodbye'
Subject(s): Jazz; Music & Musicians; Roach, Max (B. 1924); Young, Lester ('prez') (1909-1959)

"I have heard what the talkers were talking . . ."


"Thank you and goodbye"
and now she turns, hair
asway, skirt furling,
the peonies, each one
of them a pink tangle,
sunlit quartz sidewalk.
Lester leaps in.


Flowering Cheyenne,
ladyfingers, white
blossoms, bees
and butterflies,
the skyline, pure
Chicago, this paper
cut-out of itself,
watertower solitaires,
a deuce-and-a-quarter
listing by.


The voice I hear
under the locust tree
in the courtyard,
so definite, the rush
of the El, box elder,
poplars stirring.
"All I want," she says,
"or anyone, for that
matter, is a chance
to show you what I mean."


Haze after haze,
the city and evening:
music seems implicit
in conditions perfected
years ago, gaiety,
the Venetian glass swirl
of warm gin over ice.
Dear saxophone, the breathy
instant before the sound
comes on like anything.


America, it's hardly worth
mentioning. These happy
accidents occur as they
occur, something the horn
ribbons out into moist
air and indigo. "To show
you what I mean," like
the lyric that stammers
inside the song, Embraceable
You, never quite uttered,
assumed, like Max Roach,
an insistence that
sometimes comes to call.


Elm crowns above the scattered
rooflines, my sweet, the Smoke King,
so close you could hear him
fingering the keys, embraceable
valve pads opening and closing,
riding above the notes
and darkened leaves, breath flared
like steam against lacquered brass.
Sometimes this sadness is intolerable.


"All I want," the narrow leaves
like fossils stamped in anthracite,
"or anyone," ice cubes hissing
their breath away, an insistence
turning just where the light furls
around their sadness. "Thank you
and goodbye," my sweet embraceable
night air and its thickening
apprehension, "for that matter,
is a chance to show you what
I mean," my sweet embraceable you.

From The Sky at Ashland by Michael Anania, published by Moyer Bell, Kymbolde Way, Wakefield, RI
02879. Used by permission of the publisher.

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