The Biggest Jazz Funeral In History

by Amy Letter


for B. Alayne Spears
who spent her 15th birthday salvaging her clothes



We will learn to swim before we will abandon
our homes. We will get sick,
but not succumb. We will march on.
The biggest jazz funeral in history will parade,
umbrellas thrust in the air to defy
the rain — Once again,
we will be let in on the joke,
offered a smoke, or toke, or that eye
shot and knowing that says, "you and me,
we are one, high and dry." I don't need
to know History. I don't need
to know Art. What I've got
goes to your heart, the percussion of your heat:
it's you who needs. Me, we —
we'll march on to the mudbug feast
like Big Chief; we'll eat
immortality, and we're hungry: hear
the trombones sass the cornets: "we
is always first to be fed," — "sure, by your mama,"
and the dead bury the dead.