“I Believe I’ll Make A Change”: A Duet Between Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell

It’s fortunate that the piano is tuned, that the glue, strings and wood of the guitar is set to wail. And this hotel room, only a few hours before a flop, has the right amount of transient funk on the walls, and some sort of damp science is in effect with the thick plaster and drapes. That the air, Downtown Chicago, 1930’s is charged from nickel stogies, and cheap whiskey sin. We’re lucky the evening’s still young, top of the bottle when they start, and they’re buzzed, not fumble-drunk, and the engineer has cradled the mike just so above the sound hole and keyboard, and no traveling salesman headed for Gary or South Bend pounds shut up can’t a guy get any fucking sleep from his side of the wall. In the morning, what was good will be gone. What was caught of this evening will tease our nose from the book, stop us mid-thought, Bid us lean a bit closer to our speakers. They bend it, they pound it, they scrape it, they ring. The blues gets them both. But there are moments When gravity fools the dice in the cheat’s hand.

Father Frances at Mt. St. Alphonus.
Yes, he told us, and now the Hudson River mixes in with our words during Cave Canem’s first week. Our nutty concept: black poets writing poems in the woods. There are so many ways to say no to this: Human, we can talk ourselves in and out of everything. But the God this Gorgeous Priest dances to claims: Justice is a room of quiet, a bonfire lit by trust. He has a place for our circus to land. Whenever we ask or waver he says What can I bear to make this.

Elsa Davis Sings
At Mt. St. Alphonus she plays piano and sings a ballad alone in the auditorium. A floor Below, half-here, a sound slips, under my sleep’s door, a kinda splash of tumbled stream, not quite bird/bells a nearly sounds like. Try to map the location, son, before you blink the world awake, and this air she honeys with her breath Disappears.