“Lady Francis, there’s just not enough kindness
in this world.”
     Dexter Gordon

What night’s left, locks down hard. You’ve got to
love this slow blue hour, mon beb, this mood cuts
light, cuts straight across the Lady’s ache with no
sun’s weight to stick it home, deep, and twist it off.

You blow the notes too raw, work each riff
against the next, until it flows like blood
inside the moon, that smooth, and torques
the reed tighter, for kindness’ sake, for mercy
as it fails, again, and sweetly

burns stone back to holy elements, burns an echo
in the charged air over Back-a-Town. And the parkways turn like orchids, big-eyed, sloppy with dew, toward
the sky, all swollen, wired for a last taste,

or the risk of a kiss. But each note spends its edge. The air gets still again. The hot seed settles, and dries. As Lady tunes a cigarette and opens her sad wound to dawn, so-so sha, catch the Lady on your lips.
Lift her tongue beyond this ache that lingers

in your own throats. How the ache burns, how it echoes in your own breath. How your own ache and its echo

burns the Lady into light, that simple, and her night-
time life-time “lays to jest” the damage of each day.

© 2017, John Sullivan

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