The Jazz musicians swing their tunes,
like a kung-fu master whips bamboo into oblivion…
until it breaks in two.
Three beboppers make the notes come to life
in whirling dervishes of colors and hues
floating around the juke-joint like seductive parachutes.
The emcee’s breath control pronounces each word as a falling grudge.
With great tenacity he flows to the beat,
like drum-roll behind the shuffling of Bojangle’s feet.
He holds the mic as if it was a vice,
punching metaphors like they were his foe.
His flow ricochets off the crowd,
instilling images as he just lets go.
The bluesman relishes his hurt into the strings.
Bent over his steel guitar,
he wails to kingdom come,
yodeling plaintively to what is not there, nor is real.
He delves into his world of chords,
and through his exorcism pays no mind
as he jumps off the deep board.
Drinking corn liquor as if in search of a fairy at the bottom of the bottle,
he plays and plays and plays…
until he is no more.
Mary S. Collins submitted this poem on behalf of Ryan, who passed away this spring at the age of 19. “One of his greatest loves was the art of words,” she shared. “He wrote and read constantly, and couldn’t wait to attend UW–Green Bay this fall to study Creative Writing and Philosophy. He was a huge jazz and blues aficionado, and even had a radio show in high school, ‘Blues of Different Manifestations.’”