The Tenor Man
Pottering around the stage,
a hyperactive ancient in his own backyard -
independent of the band it seems.
Disrhythmic shuffling of ashtray,
beer, a pack of cigarettes,
then in the middle eight
he draws, exhales, and catches breath,
stoops forward to the mouthpiece
a tumbling counterpoint,
scales soaring from his horn.
The melody flows
until the break,
and then he shoulders arms,
a truce between the music and his ailing lungs.
Between choruses he sits apart
to light another cigarette,
a sideman counting out the bars
until he rises for the coda -
this Lazarus of swing.