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3 September 2005

Haines, Alaska

I'm sitting on the beach in Haines, waiting for Mardi Gras to begin. They have their own calendar here in Haines, and Mardi Gras begins tonight. That's their story and they're sticking to it.

Yesterday I went up to Chilkat Lake and got some good pictures of Grizzlies fishing, picky devils that they are. Also the odd sight of a traffic logjam of people taking pictures of them. Nobody could get in or out, for a while. The bears left early, probably laughing too hard to concentrate on fishing. Eagles quit about the same time.

"Lookit the hairless apes! Ain't they a hoot! Clickety clickety click."

And then last night around ten somebody hammered on the trailer and told me the Aurora was out. No pictures. I don't have a tripod. So you'll have to take my word that it looked like the sky was lit up with bright green searchlights.

That about completes my list of things to see in Alaska. Except for Mardi Gras.

In between all that, I uncorked a bottle of Frontera cabernet from Sam's (a fine cheap Chilean wine), and somewhere into the second glass tried my hand at a commemorative poem. While I was at Fairbanks, I went to see Jazz Night at the Blue Loon, and had a pretty good time.

So, here y'go:

Jazz Night at the Blue Loon

The saxman stood, waiting for the beat.
A buzzing drummer and the organ wraith
Traded love notes. The saxman simply stood.

Waiting for the beat.

Slump-shouldered, bent, a wasted cadaver
Hung in a shiny suit, his hollow cheeks
Stretched taut and thin, like drumheads.

Waiting for the beat.

A reliquary face. A wooden face.
The face of a saint who learned too late
Love is a habit as easy to break as your nose.

Waiting for the beat.

Now he stands like a man with a mouthful of nails.
Like a marionette, eyes painted wet,
Waiting for the Hand to Move.

Waiting for the beat.

One, two, three. Like a counting horse.
A white flash of eyes as he looks to heaven.
And then the music moves, moves, moves
Like a gravel avalanche, like blazing feathers,
Like sauntering syllables of pain and pleasure,
Through the glass-clink and murmur of the crowd.

The saxman floats. The saxman flies. The saxman
Carves cool silence from the heated air,
Smoke in his heart, and in his eyes
The end of waiting.


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