Asher Blake’s Elegy for Charles Mingus


Jazz Elegy no.1
Charles Mingus

Upraised wrists of a woman
and a fat dead hen
that hangs below.
Three dogs linger for broth and bone.
With wings spread,
one last dance
before the shaman.

He has no poultice
for a foolish soul.
Nonetheless he stoops down
for a smooth stone.

Loamy Earth
lusts for the pines.
The ground moans
when they flex
in the juniper wind.
She never stops braiding
herself with fragrant pine
even to the mid desert stands.

The people open their mouth for spirits.
And shamans names are known
to those in pain.
In the city clinic,
the fame of magic towers
above the poor higher
than Tenochtitlan pyramids,
the desperate lashed to their beds
with plastic twine.

Fingers pluck
the doors of Bellevue
a double bass knocking
through mopped floors.

fall solo
for the doctor’s sigh is in his breath
his underscore is in his notes.

Inroads of Mexico
in the American interior,
the white worm healers of Cuernavaca
have Mingus magnetized.

Nonetheless, he dies of ALS.
Respite of the rain in June.
Callused fingertips.


Charles Mingus, 1922-1979, may he rest in peace.

Wittingham Asluum