Owen Lucas is a British writer living in Norwalk, Connecticut. His poems have been published in more than thirty reviews and journals on both sides of the Atlantic. During 2013, twenty-two of his ekphrasis poems were serialized by Mountain Tales Press. Other recent credits include The MacGuffin, A Clean Well-Lighted Place and Off the Coast. Look for new work, out soon in Contemporary Poetry 2 and Paper Nautilus.
THELONIOUS MONK : Pannonica
Wed a Baron
Who strove in 1942 against Vichy;
In Free France for de Gaulle.
At the Salon and may
Into his blind arms.
Ate it when
Busted with him for tea. Oh, baby.
And we will sure unbuild the dame.
Bird brothe his last in her hotel suite!
The light broke
Out of Bird, dangerously, flammably,
Over the sheets,
At the Stanhope rooms.
Little else ever
Spoke. Cigarettes and silent dreams.
We took the streetcar in San Francisco
And saw Spencer Tracy as a detective,
All afternoon I was drunk as hell.
There was a flash of lightning
And the bay went blue and I thought
I saw the white body of a whale.
You held my arm.
At night there was more brandy
And the soft motion of hands, soft,
Motion of hands over a glockenspiel.
DUKE ELLINGTON : The Mooche
Smoke pours from, of Tiger-God, mouth.
Fire winding through plantation,
Over river and the rainsoaked hills. Om.
The water seethes with reptiles.
There is a temple behind Stone Mountain
Where they lay the bodies in a trough.
“Darling you must pledge yourself to me.
Darling you must belong to me entire.
I have a sort of fever coming on again.”
Beaa! More light! More smoke!
Wheel out the harlequin. Light!
“They dance willy-nilly from their ropes.
Darling they dancy silly from their rope.”
A water buffalo rolls into the dirty water,
Schauming vigourously of its pale blood,
Desperate to breathe, eyes gone astray.
None of this will amount to any good.
“The lease is out, signor. We must depart,
If we are to make the first boat tomorrow.
La signora will need to come with us, certo.”
Wha wha baba do doop de—ah!
Break the cage and let him fly!
He was a pupa, and we find him a Gestalt.
And some fool said “we all wear masks”?
He, no. He is as blithe and naked as the day.