“Bicycled Dusks Garaged” — a poem by dan smith

April 2nd, 2018

 

Clyde McPhatter

 

_____

 

 

Bicycled Dusks Garaged

( for C.F. forever teenage angel muse )

Snow & Ridge our rock n roll Mecca.
The Tastee Shoppe jukebox our holy of holies
best for miles around was our Kaaba
where Elmore James’s Dust My Broom
sent shock waves through my hormone addled brain
& Night Train by Rusty Bryant & his Carolyn Club orchestra
was a bump & grind fantasy of rockin’ & rollin’ ecstasy.

Tastee Shoppe of slicked hair angels with d.a.’s and New Yorkers
combed just right, collars turned up, pants pegged to pachuco
perfection & cig packs rolled up on shoulders with fingers
snappin’ to the sounds.

Outcasts without club jackets we danced fast & loose
practicing a rhythm method dirty boogie catechism
with hot chicks their sweaters filled with the Ooh Poo Pa Doo
undoing of worshipful desire.

Even before that was Gee by the Crows & a copper colored velvet
front pullover shirt purchased on Prospect along with flip top
tongue on top shoes & hurrying home to Alan Freed wailing hipster
radio god opening doors to the Moondog House & another world
& picking up WLAC at night to hear the rollicking piano of the Fat Man,
Howlin’ Wolf, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Lavern Baker & Bill
” Hossman ” Allen advertising baby chicks by the gross & Royal Crown
Hairdressing & later on locally the Crazyman show where the cats
& kittens would drive by the station and he would talk to them
something like this: this Little Walter tune is going out to Duke
& Ronnie & all the guys & gals at 79th & Hough from the Duker
in his purple & gold short.

The rhythm & blues lost in hot afternoons around Evergreen Lake
with Big Jay McNeeley blowing suburban wistful madonnaesque
beauty into spaced out aspirin & coke hot wired kisses
our bicycled dusks garaged black slacked love unanswered grew.
Said lake where I told my friends I wanted to marry a Negro Buddhist
& they didn’t dig it being pre-Subterraneans & it was just my way
of saying I wanted to dig deeper which I do later getting past Elvis’s
Teddy Bear & Jailhouse Rock in the Gray Ghost where finally drunk
enough I got past the smell of pizza to scarf down about four pieces.
Driving around with open containers diggin’ on Rumble picking up
beer at a little store just across Brookpark that I believe would have sold
to a five year old if he could carry it out & there were the basement
dance parties swayin’ to Shake A Hand by Faye Adams & Shake Rattle
& Roll by Big Joe Turner & there were Gil Bernal & Vido Musso blowin’
their brains out & Heart of Stone by the Charms, Since I Met You, Baby by Ivory Joe Hunter & Riot In Cell Block # 9 by the Robins & Arnett Cobb wailing on Flying Home Mambo all on the little record player
( not cheap ) my father got for Sidney Bechet’s Wrap Your Troubles
In Dreams & In The Mood by Glenn Miller
which was really Tar Paper Stomp by Wingy Manone and Presley
covered That’s All Right Mama while Arthur Crudup ( I learned much later ) began sweet potato farming. Sock hopping in the basement
it was easy to forget jazz listening to Sloppy Drunk by Jimmy Rogers & His Rockin’ Four, the amazing lyric antics of Chuck Berry doing Maybellene & with Big Joe Turner we could look at the girls and tell
they weren’t children no more & holding an Earth Angel in your arms
while Johnny Ace sang Pledging My Love was a little slice of the divine
& we would go to Beardens whose jukebox had Clyde McPhatter
singing Honey Love where we drank milkshakes on me as I had paper
route, man, I must have tithed half my earnings to the First Church
of Rock n Roll Sanctified.

Some of the pastors were Bill ” the hit maker ” Randle who gave us the first taste of world beat with Skokiaan by the Bulawayo Sweet Rhythms
Band & Joe Finan who would play a record ten times in a row & there was Bebopalula by Gene Vincent ” she’s the woman at the store, she’s the one who gives you more, more, more ” which is pretty much what we were lookin’ for along with the pride of Bell Gardens, CA. Eddie Cochran’s
Summertime Blues & tunes like Love Is Strange & Who Wears Short Shorts & Framed by the Coasters but it all started to slip away when a
car wreck song came true with the girls all dressed in black & someone got blackjacked at a school dance & a hundred guys gathered at Snow & Ridge for a rumored rumble with the guys from Murray Hill & Mad Daddy ( Pete Myers ) parachuting into Lake Erie & who was later to blow his brains out for real & guys goin’ to the joint, to college & the Marine Corps.

Some got religion, some became drunks & some like me just got older & into Cannonball, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn, Les McCann, Milt Jackson, Cal Tjader, Dizzy and Miles but although the funeral was long ago the ghosts are still boppin’ & a hoppin’ & I still return to the sacraments those sacred & profane times for a little taste, ya know,
the bread & wine of that old time religion of the Evergreen Lake angels.

_____

 

This poem originally appeared on The Poets Haven podcast titled “One for the Chicken Suit Man” in the Spring of 2012. 

 

Editors note: This poem has been edited in an attempt to fit the format of the page

 
 
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photo by Casey Rearick
 
 
dan smith is the author of two chapbooks: Crooked River and The Liquid of Her Skin, the Suns of Her Eyes published by Deep Cleveland Press and Night Ballet Press respectively. He has been published in the Rhysling  Anthology, Dwarf Stars, Scifaikuest, Renegade Flowers: d.a. levy in the Digital Revolution,  Kaleidotrope, Zen of the Dead and Lupine Lunes published by Popcorn Press, microcosms, Red Fez, Hedgerow: A Journal of Small Poems and Failed Haiku to name a few.
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