March 4, 2016

Four Poems By DB Cox: "Spaces-For Charlie Parker", "Shades of Ray", "Take Me To a Place", "Natalie"

DB Cox is a blues musician/writer from South Carolina. He grew up in a Southern Baptist Orphanage called Connie Maxwell Children’s Home in Greenwood, SC. He graduated from high school in 1966, and joined the Marines Corps right after the Vietnam TET Offensive in 1968. After being discharged in 1972, he spent several years playing guitar in bars, juke joints, and honky tonks across the South.

In 1977, he moved to Boston, Massachusetts to attend the Berklee School of Music where he discovered a thriving blues scene. After thirty years of playing the music he loves with some great bands, he moved back to South Carolina where he writes and plays in a blues band called “P.C. Red & Almost Blue.” He has previously published four books of poetry, and one collection of short stories called "Unaccustomed Mercy." The EBook collection of poems called "Low Blue Notes” was recently released by Underground Voices Publishing, and is available at Amazon Kindle EBooks. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize multiple times.

---for Charlie Parker

you traded
your cabaret card
for some pusher’s
idea of paradise
& now you’re standing
outside a club on 52nd street
the rain beating
a philly-joe solo
on the brim of your fedora
can’t even get your foot
in the door of the jazz joint
they named for you
the man
who could glide over
chorus after chorus
smooth, sure, & fast
as polished glass
& never
run out of things to say
liberator of paris
king of bebop
gets another
royal welcome home
so what now
the jazz clubs
are being replaced
with strip dives
& they’re playing rock & roll
over at the paramount
claiming bop’s
an outline of the past
a graveyard ghost—
but you
can come with me
if you wanna go
to kansas city
find a new way
in that pure space
between notes—
tiny pieces
of perception
shiny as quicksilver
waiting to be discovered
like lost money
in an old coat pocket

Ray Charles

shades of ray
--- For Ray Charles

dark shades of ray
swaying to
fatback funk
& blue indigo
comping dirges so slow
the drummer’s lost
& looking for a tempo
sweet gospel
heal your soul
throw your crutches
lean on ray
say amen somebody
river of fingers
leafing through
keys looking for a lost
the flatted fifth
of the apocalypse
i think
i heard it today
just about the time
ray's unbound soul
quit this
bone cold world
on angel wings
of thunder
a world without ray
who wants it?
i’m gonna paint
my windows black
as foster-grants
& go to bed forever

take me to a place

where midnight accumulates
don’t want to see the sun anymore
put me on a train
with no windows
where nighttime lasts forever
& a speed-mad engineer
with a mechanical heart
high balls a coal-black engine
through time tunnels
like a bullet leaving a gun
where the speed of darkness
Billie Holiday, Painting by Lola Lonli
is faster than the speed of light
dreaming up a nocturnal scene—
mingus & monk softly
behind a tan-skinned lady
white flower in her hair
billie holiday singing keeps on a rainin’
just give me things
i can depend on
red wine—old times
the repetition
of a blue bass line


posed on stage
black dress
stark & glassy
a beautiful face
with a smile as mysterious
as the mona lisa’s
a film-noir scene
come to life
singing with an ache in her tone
that hints at the secrets
hidden behind her distant eyes
each note
suspended in air
like a trail of cigarette smoke
the place she sang from
utterly untouchable


“more than you'll ever know”

the sound of solitude for sale

pouring her own
secret sorrow over another
roomful of invisible faces
broken phrases
scattered into space
tiny fractions of a singer's life
caught in the dark cracks
between the blues
& the bright white spotlight.

~DB Cox

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