Brushes under Nixon –

Published in Slow Trains, 2008

Listen to the silver crisping of my brushes

Can you hear them-lisping-on the edge of my snare?

Orchestras can wait. I


                                                the ride and the upright.

That silver flitting is crisper

and tighter

than that old clothesline wrapped

around that old pecan tree

in grandmother’s backyard.

My cousin marveled

at how tight that clothesline remained

but my cousin

never made it to one of my jazz gigs.

And when there is Tchaikovsky,

I don’t make it to one of my jazz gigs.

Those grey wiry wands sometimes yield

to shiny green xylophone mallets.



But that clothesline-torque tight-creeps into vision.

They tell you to keep your fingers loose

on those brushes,

and with sticks,

to spray rolls across those toms

as lightly as napalm over Nixon. (Oops)

There’s at least one jazz drummer that votes conservative


I really don’t always know how to choose between the two.