philip bryant | stella by starlight

23 10 2007

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Poetry Dispatch No.101 | September 12, 2006

STELLA BY STARLIGHT by Philip Bryant

My mother couldn’t understand how my father, a man stuffed so full of promise and potential, could wither it all away on a stack of bebop records and a bottle of beer. And his close friend, Preston, was worse—undereducated and couldn’t speak the king’s English if you’d held a gun to his head, gave him the book and asked him to quote any passage out of Shakespeare. Every other word was muthafuck this or muthafuck that. Why my father associated with him, who in my mother’s opinion was far beneath him, was an open mystery, something beyond her. Jazz, Jazz, Jazz, that’s all she heard—morning, noon and night—when he could have easily risen to be a great surgeon, lawyer, or civil rights leader. But one day I walked in on them by accident and there they were: Preston and my dad, a little drunk, crouched over the turntable. I understood why when they turned around, taken completely by surprise for an instant. I saw that both their dark faces reflected the light and were shining.

from BLUE ISLAND, Cross+Roads Press, 1997

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