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D. Nurkse

D. Nurkse

D. Nurkse is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently The Border Kingdom. He received a 2009 Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.

Sonny Stitt At The Blue Coronet

—Brooklyn, 1982
His fingers do not appear to move
as he rips through the secondary dominants
of Boplicity, Simone, Ray's Idea.          

Why such blazing tempi when he will die
in six weeks? Perhaps in heroin
there is a calm in which you can fit
a million notes into one beat.

Drums, bass, Hammond organ—
these are unnamed men, faces      
you have met all your life
and bargained with, nodded to,
yet they have no difficulty
with the subtlest modulation.                         

The audience is three drunks,  
one cursing an imaginary waitress,
one mumbling to himself, one sleeping.

Now try to eat your extremely salted cashews
so slowly there will always be one left.


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