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Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker at the Penthouse Suite Of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter Stanhope Hotel     March 15, 1955, New York City

A storm came down from Olympus, bringing torrential rain, cleansing the grime that clouds the soul of a dying city.  Charlie held court on the warm sofa of the luxurious suite with other musicians, watching television, drinking whiskey and smoking cigars.When he was a young man, the gods appeared at the 12th Street alleyway in Kansas City
(as they often do).  In the smoky dim lit clubs, the gods heard Charlie play.  Apollo captured a lightning bolt and fashioned it into an alto saxophone for Charlie. Zeus gave him the wind and air.    Athena took feathers from her hair to form wings so he could soar. She called him Bird. And he soared high, free soloing above the heights of Mount Olympus.  For a brief mortal minute.

Charlie was watching a variety show on the television, a joke, funny skit or a comical expression ignited the laughter. First a high cackle like he was being tickled, then rolling into a low belly laughter that made his shoulder undulate. He slapped his knees as the second wave of geesh and gosh escaped from his open mouth. Drowning out the canned laughter on television.

He shook his head.   His host & patron, the Baroness saw  the slight grimace on his face.  He stood up but his knees gave way like a building collapsing on its own weight.  A thunderous clap shook the room like a full orchestra dropping their instruments on stage.  On the floor, the late great Charlie “Bird” Parker laid dead. Like Icarus, who flew too close to the unforgiving sun, his wings could hold him no longer.  Poseidon wept and flooded 5th Avenue with rain.  And Bird disintegrated into air, into pure sound, music eternal.  The gods final gift.

The storm passed.
The Muses roamed Greenwich Village.
Calliope declared on painted walls,
Bird Lives 

Written by Grace Ilagan Angel
Filipino American Poet, Painter and Photographer. Her poems have been published with online zines like Monterey Poetry Review and Liminal Spaces: War Stories issue. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her two daughters, husband and two black cat

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