The autumn day was dark
There would be rain and wind coming

On the city street someone
with another blind paper cup at his feet,
sheltered in the cold chapel of an unused doorway,
was playing alone on a saxophone
he had brought with him in a shopping bag
the classics of improvisation
the melodies
the riffs of his tradition
the changes
the great tunes
handed down again just now by him

And in the soft wind, the certainty of rain,
who stopped for a moment to listen and pitched
his own voice to the blue note
and a few coins into the cup?

Copyright 1995, Reginald Gibbons

Reginald Gibbons is a professor of English at Northwestern University and editor of TriQuarterly magazine, an international journal of writing, art and cultural inquiry. He is the author of four books of poems, most recently, Maybe It Was So (University of Chicago Press); a collection of very short fiction, Five Pears or Peaches (Broken Moon Press); a novel, Sweetbitter (Penquin); and other books.