And The "Bird" Played Once More

The alto sax hung by its neck strap in silence
Its shadow lost on the smoke stained wall
A cloud of recycled nicotine hovered low
And the light flickered over the worn pool table

In the dim light lonely men shuffled the beer stained floor
Dollar coins staked the faded green cushion
Shaking hands and fading eyesight lined the shots
As pool cues ran across nicotine stained fingers

A refuge for old men till it was their time to pass
(The “d” word was rarely used here)
Their memories of better days were long gone
Lost, mostly, in a haze of alcohol and heroin

History had carved its self into places like this
Tongue and groove walls from an age long gone
Old men in crumpled suits, with even older souls
Jackie Gleason’s for sure but no Paul Newman’s

A three legged dog lay quietly in the corner
Dizzy Gillespie played on the antique jukebox
as arthritic fingers tapped along to the jazz beat
If time had a throwback this was where it landed

Along the front of the bar ran a polished brass rail
With the faux marble top it seemed out of place
An ageing poet sat on a stool reading Bukowski and
Like everything else, no one noticed and no one cared

Suddenly the door flew open blowing eddies of snow across the floor
Those in the bar shivered as one but, not from the cold
Many thought they saw a shimmer of something in the air
But most would deny they saw anything at all

The lights went out one by one; pool table, ceiling, bar
Initially the red and blue neon sign defied the lack of power
But it to eventually buzzed and crackled before finally dying
Only the jukebox remained with Dizzy now playing in the dark

The sudden sound of a wooden chair scraping across the floor
Sent shivers up the spine of all there that night
No one moved, the darkness enveloping, hearts racing
Their hair literally stood on end, but more was to come

As Dizzy began playing Hot House on the jukebox
The sound of an alto sax pierced the night air
This was real; this was now, no jukebox sound
In the dark the sax played jazz with a spirit possessed

On and on it went, the riffs splitting the air, no one spoke
Minutes passed, the music played, then slowed
till finally the sax stopped and the jukebox played no more
A sense of calm now flowed over all within

Lights flickered, returning shadows to the walls
The neon sign dazzling all after the darkness
The old men looked around and saw the chair
Now set under where the sax had hung

Its outline visible on the tongue and groove wall
The alto sax now rested on the wooden chair
The only object left on the wall was the plaque which read
Charlie “Yardbird” Parker played here

And The "Bird" Played Once More

Tony Mutton

Brisbane, Australia

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