Over fifteen bucks
of shitty dope,
some asshole
brings his knee
into Chet’s mouth–
in that second
between tooth
bending in its socket
and calcium rubbing
the nerve to ring out–

there is Peace.
No bullet is fired
in Palestine.
Everyone’s kissing
in the streets
of Prague and Warsaw.
In Hong Kong, someone
slips a toe under table
and rubs the inner thigh
of another.
_____In short, 1968 is
_____a heaven on earth.

Then the tooth
gives way. No one
is at fault, really.
Chet needed some dope.
The Man needed more,
more money, more pain.
_____Who are we to fault them
_____for their fundamentals?

The knee will still
strike Chet’s mouth,
his lips scabby
for weeks in London,
trying to escape
the moment, that moment

when no one would help,
even pretty ladies
in passing cabs, no, no —
who would help a jazz
trumpeter in his despair?
_____ He blows his own winds
_____ and sows his own sour seeds.

Meanwhile, the stratosphere
is punctured and punctured.
No one bats an eye.
Chet can’t feel his palate
but no one bats an eye.
This is how it works:

_____you begin, you end.
_____Sometimes, you end
less than ceremoniously,
no lords to regale you
at the gala, no gods
on bended knee, the king
stays the king and
no scales fall from
trumpet or eye.
All is right in the knee
into the jaw. All is right
as the sun sets into the Pacific
nothingness. See it dip,
then disappear.

Khaleel Gheba