Norman Weinstein: Elegy for Roswell Rudd


Elegy for Roswell Rudd: Curtain Calls With Glissandos Galore

just nerve-jazzed getting off Wilshire then

mysterious left turns then soccer field arises,

horizon fills with team of middle-aged realtors, one

puts a trombone in my face

“HERE!” & tosses cornball straw

hat “HERE!” so trombone wraps

itself boa-bodacious around shoulders & neck,

while hat turns into half-

assed mute, Dixieland dollar store style,

 & someones shouting orders, pretend we’re buffo-Bourbon

Streeters, with two other (mute) trombones,

three (silent) trumpets & (unbeaten) circus

bassboom drum. Photographer fat guy ex-realtor

so knows score with gimmick-gaudy photo

shoot for some Realtors Association calendar

its paying so push on, trombone millstone & feather

then three voices shout “YOU’RE HOLDING IT WRONG!”

so go limp as they position my head ramrod straight, cheeks cave, &

few minutes later its over, a twenty slides into a drenched left palm.

apt charade payment?


Roswell, you were there in that instant when

first time trombone grew tendrils, twitching in

hands searching, slide-stutter, a few notes rising then 82 years

compress into instant second line, busted straw hat hangs from

bone’s toothless gaping brass

mouth tonight. Without you how will it remember

how to guffaw in face of no vocal

real in their estates? That trombone shoved into a face

links us. Piercing Second Line dirge wails. Cock an ear at right

angle & “HERE!” on both sides of the curtain “HERE!” “This

is real.” Next numbers from your childhood radio days, its

Ghost Riders

in the

Sky . . . . .

You come in on the next chorus,



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