“The Haunted Saxophone” — a poem by Ron Campbell

July 16th, 2018

 

 

 

The Haunted Saxophone

 

There’s a pawnshop in Tarzana
Called Thrifty Pawn & Loan.
And propped up in the window
Is a haunted saxophone.
The tag says “50 dollars-
A sweet and honeyed tone”
But fifty bucks ain’t all you pay
For a haunted saxophone.

She’s got a tone that’s like blue smoke
And her keys are black as crows.
How she wound up here for sale
Nobody knows.
So if you’re a cat who digs a puzzle
Try this one on for size:
Everyone who plays this horn
Dies.

Fifty bucks seems like a bargain
Unless you count the curse
That’s made every cat who ever owned that brass
Take the short ride in a long hearse.
See if you track all the cats that played that axe
You’d see she’s a tender trap.
Because every one who ever blew that horn
Winds up taking the long dirt nap.

One jumped out a window.
And one, he O.D.’d.
One died on the bandstand
When he choked on the reed.
One was killed by a lover’s husband.
And one by his own wife.
One had his heart cut out
With a rusted butter knife.

One drowned in a puddle
In an alley behind a bar.
One died in his garage
Behind the wheel of a car.
One died much later.
One died too soon.
One got stabbed in the gut with a harpoon.

One hung himself with a necktie,
One from a chandelier.
One fed the fishes
When he took a stroll off a pier.
One checked himself in to a loony bin
To get his brain fried.

They say Lester Young played her once
The night before he died.
One rode the horse to Gonesville.
One walked into a train.
One just drank himself insane.

One died of complications
Resulting from a life of crime.
One was playing ‘Round Midnight
When the reaper dropped his dime.
One got a record deal
But was strangled in red tape.
One just leaked into the landscape.

“You don’t play that horn. That horn plays you.”
Said the one that had an embolism
Before his face turned blue.

One was struck by lightening
While playing in the rain.
One stepped off a balcony
And ten floors later was a stain.

One they didn’t know about
Until his hotel room began to stink.
But every cat that ever blew that axe
Is currently extinct.

The haunted saxophone is a bargain at fifty dollars
With her “sweet and honeyed tone”.
But you flirt with death
When you put your breath
Through a haunted Saxophone.

 

_____

 

 

Ron Campbell is a writer, actor and Cirque du Soleil clown who loves jazz. He received the Fox Fellowship for Distinguished Achievement and is the author of the titles of two unwritten collections of poetry The Detourist and In Corrigible. His poem “Personal” was published in Flutter Poetry Journal. His poems “Tin Cup” and “Speak Now” were published in Psychic Meatloaf. His poems “Recipe” and “The Emblem” were published in Mipoesias Poetry Journal.  His poem “Dr(own) Me” was published by Truth Serum Press. 15 of his poems were published in Versus Poetry Anthology.  For more of his writing, visit https://soarfeat.wordpress.com/

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In This Issue

This issue features an interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins; a collection of poetry devoted to the World War II era; and a new edition of “Reminiscing in Tempo,” in which the question “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite jazz recordings of the 1940’s” is posed to Rickie Lee Jones, Chick Corea, Tom Piazza and others.

Features

In this edition of Reminiscing in Tempo,, Chick Corea, Rickie Lee Jones, Tom Piazza, Gary Giddins, Randy Brecker, Michael Cuscuna, Terry Teachout and many others answer the question, “What are 3 or 4 of your favorite recordings of the 1940’s?”

Interviews

Interview with Bing Crosby biographer Gary Giddins, author of the new book "Swinging on a Star: The War Years, 1940 - 1946"

Poetry

Eight poets — John Stupp, Aurora Lewis, Michael L. Newell, Robert Nisbet, Alan Yount, Roger Singer, dan smith and Joan Donovan — write about the era of World War II

The Joys of Jazz

Award winning radio producer and host Bob Hecht shares his love of jazz through his podcasts on his site “The Joys of Jazz.” In this edition, he tells two stories; the history of the virtual anthem of World War II, “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and the friendship and musical rapport of Bing Crosby and Louis Armstrong.

Short Fiction

Hannah Draper of Ottawa, Ontario is the winner of the 49th Jerry Jazz Musician New Short Fiction Award. Her story is titled "Will You Play For Me?"

Coming Soon

Three prominent scholars in a conversation about the lives of Billie Holiday, Ralph Ellison, and Langston Hughes (pictured)

Contributing writers

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