Funk so deep you were half the time
drowning: pretzeling your fingers
for Irving Penn, shooting the bird

to Ferrari-chasing heat, rope-
tying women who only thought
they were in love with you. Swimming

with your fists clenched, you swallowed
bitter and spit back gold. Gleaming
tintype of your portrait: tender

patina, hoarse laugh a winter
street’s steaming, abraded velvet
whisper, heroin or chicken soup

slurped, a certain floating need
to make your bark your bite. One night,
in Dallas, you emptied your spit-

valve on my head as I tried to
shoot you from the lip of the stage.
Smiling, calling me names between

a solo’s saddle and peak, you
rode us both the same way: letting
the notes you didn’t play sing,

sing. Servant to old songs, and schools,
and to destroying them. Now we suffer
bankers in suits, with polished horns.