Harry Bauld

136th Street Solo


Everyone on the street is younger than you, and many poorer, and some completely nuts. Ruby My Dear comes on the car radio, a blessing that will not absolve all your sins; try to be grateful. Do you need to explain everything, parked here at a hydrant waiting for your son’s guitar lesson to end, humming ho hum? Here is pavement where you will walk one day,


Heaven forfend, with a cane. You have already had one, in the Moyen Age of orthopedics' sawboned embrace, and Harlem Hospital looms conveniently at the end of the street in case those bones again succumb to the heavens. Driving is a curse invented by American antisemites filled with fear and greedy dreams of the lucrative division of labor, just as fiction is now real


cops with imaginary donuts in them and vice versa. A slow sad life, what to do? This should be funnier, but the broadcast is not broad enough and the cast is interrupted in the home of technical difficulties. Rue, Be My Dear. Tell me about it. Everything is breaking, you can feel it, the police tasing everyone with their crullers and sneeze shields. If only you understood


circuitry entomology mandarin the spontaneous combustion of rivers the art of mixing oil colors the physics of stress and the duress of history the physiology of lies and unreachable back itches that repeat and vary like sonata structure itself when you are trying to listen now to Maiden Voyage, churches and their modes even more forms you never mastered, being


maddened by dogma, but neither maiden, nor on a voyage, either literal mixolydian nor faithfully phrygian, which is probably how you excommunicated yourself in the first place. Voices shriek into the air on the street or into the street on the air. That is also the news dying miserably for lack of what ain’t found there. On the jazz station the music jumps eras


before anyone tells you the personnel on any side. Our days are birthed by a government of the prequels by the prequels and for the prequels with no rhythm section to mark a pulse that otherwise shall very much perish from these earthwaves. The justice deficit grows while you wait. You could make more space. (At the hydrant.) Vote yes and no


no no no. Remember weeping in the theater. I have set thee a watchman unto something-or-other you don’t catch flashes in lights across windows of the homemade second floor church above the shuttered business of watch-and-phone repair. The sanctified would rather ignore The Sextasy of St. Theresa and go topsy-scurvy over Debbie Does Dallas, the pop-porn-


canonic. Is you is or is you ain’t my babysitter? Freud never wrote a poem that we know of, Your Honor. If there are no jokes, his resistance and denial makes this wah wah trombone solo that much greater. You can dream the epic on and on a thousand pages, but great as it is, who will read it? Space may not be enough now that the equation reads: the city’s


sky Γ· by rainwater = some impossibly distant stream where suffocating salmon parr look for a parking space without back up lights: less food faces them, what effrontery. This curb will do for a rock in the city’s stream or throat but is not the end of the line road conversation tether game opera rainbow food chain world.


We hope. This is not the whole story, by any means necessary; they are just words to heave into the dust of the unjust. And this is where the active turn might be that should have come much earlier, but the Renaissance voltage has gone missing a couple centuries or more, along with all of our allusions and effusions. If you can’t be funny enough,


please don’t walk that chihuahua with a straight face, you here on 136th Street – at least make an effort, can’t you, and wonder where all this comes from, or more pertinently leads to, more pertly or permanently. Like a Noir scenarist, now I’m shedding a rain of broken blue notes.

About the Author

At Columbia, Harry Bauld was twice All-Ivy shortstop and broke Lou Gehrig’s records. Unfortunately, they were his academic records. His poems have won awards and appeared in numerous journals in the United States and the United Kingdom. He was included by Matthew Dickman in the anthology Best New Poets 2012 (University of Virginia Press) and has performed in New York and elsewhere as a magician and jazz pianist.