“Chet Baker” — a poem by Jack Peachum

July 10th, 2015



For Ross LeCompte

Tumbling out of the second story window —
an accident, I swear — passing the first floor,
and, “You’ll never make it as a musician, Chet!”,
an endless string of notes plays by my ear,
one solo interlude strung out forever,
reaching, reaching, for the ultimate chord,
my sideman lost in a tinkle of piano keys,
the percussion of the vibraphone,
the twisted grin of the mad bassman,
spitting out his teeth, learning to play again,
give ’em a half-smile, Chet, a half-smile,
the Goddess of Heroin gaping at me,
“My Funny Valentine,” she sings,
cool, so cool, and the fluglehorn I play lifting
into the endless sky over Oklahoma,
above the cotton fields and the dust bowl,
where my father sits with his crushed dreams,
acoustic guitar on his lap,
the big bright trombone he bought me
resting in the pawn-shop window,
trumpet playing, yes, my horn rising
into California star-shine and the Okie night,
into a hundred drug deals gone bad,
sexual encounters in café bathrooms,
airports, shipping offices, train stations,
marriage, jailtime and the hell of withdrawal,
my mother holding to my arm,
and, uh-oh, here comes the sidewalk —


Jack Peachum lives in an isolated community in southside Virginia on the shores of Kerr Lake. Poet, essayist, playwright and short story writer, Peachum is the author of two chapbooks, Polyamory and Poems from Kerr Lake, and a novel, Tempest. He is attendant at poetry readings in Warrenton, N.,C. and is a member of the Writer’s Group of South Boston, Va.

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7 comments on ““Chet Baker” — a poem by Jack Peachum”

  1. Thank you for the Poem !
    and to find my photo with your words ….
    could you still credit me in this article for the 1 shot foto Chet Baker let me take of him then ( ok just 1… ) on our unexpected street meeting as passers by on de Rokin in Amsterdam-center ,,, Gert de Ruijter ( with thanks )

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