(from Gato Barbieri: A Sequence)
Everywhere I go, I take the borderline with me.
& so for luck, & because I must, I cross myself
each morning. Across the white of a saint’s eye,
I trace red latticework that leads me,
maplike, to the scorched outskirts of the self,
& even there I can’t find a better definition of ‘I’
than the sound a vowel makes when held. Mi,
re, do—don’t matter. Hold these sounds to be self-
replicant. Hold them ‘til the breath expires. I
once missed a woman so madly that my
sax & I scavenged unnamable notes. Note to self:
no G-sharp could reach her. I needed an H, an I.
I needed a breath strong enough to dissolve me,
a mezcal to submerge the worm of my self,
a sad milonga at midnight that could cry (ay ay)
a whole nightclub to sleep—a seedy, seamy
hole-in-the-wall trimmed with cellophane
garland & flowers that will never die. I
once loved a woman with such alarming sanity (sue me)
that, just to drape her in cashmere & Hermès, I pressed myself
into kitsch-disco records by the million, & spun. I
pity those who hear in every pulse a death-march. Me,
I no longer fear disco, or the human heart, those self-
replicating, metronomic knells of the inevitable. I
alone am wild enough to frighten me.
Between myself & death I place Gato Barbieri.