The Mississippi midnight sky was clear
As one determined man had journeyed far
With nothing but his clothes and a guitar,
To speak the incantation all men fear;
As legend goes, the Devil did appear,
And promised this young man he’d be a star–
That for his soul alone, his repertoire
Would be replayed a thousand times a year.
The pact was made; the Devil’s words rang true,
Though not as true as many might have thought,
For while the young man lived, the fame he sought
Eluded him, as such things often do;
He sold the thing that cannot be re-bought,
And never has a payment held such rue.
I saw him in a club in ’44,
A skinny kid, still clinging to his teens,
His role was small — he stayed behind the scenes,
But once he played, he left you wanting more;
Some notes would linger, some would swell and soar
And some notes would be smashed to smithereens,
But “Oh!” I thought, “This kid plays what he means!
For one as he, the best of life’s in store!”
The day he died, sheer millions came to mourn
The one who breathed the air into the cool,
The fuser of the blue, and bebop’s jewel;
No finer man has ever played the horn,
His legend lives, his name shall always rule–
The greatest jazz musician ever born.
E. Shaun Russell’s poetic work (primarily formal verse) has recently received an Honourable Mention in the Writers’ Digest annual writing competition, publication in a chapbook anthology of speculative poetry and recognition through Winning Writers. Russell has a passion for writing and music, and has had the fortune of playing and producing jazz and jazz-influenced music.