Wednesday 21 April 2021

One Sublime Prose Poem by Gregory Brendan Patrick


Ghost Magnolia

By the sentinel of a lamppost, like a promethean shrine where moths flock to die, none heard the sigh as the soloist played against the profitless walk back home to the hastening passerby. Silhouettes cast by strangers fly in a dark hieroglyphic stream cast on the wall like musical notes written on a page and the soloist plays the saxophone…reading each individual as a note of happiness or rage…sigh like vexed composer or philosopher over a riddle on a page…But the first notes of the song with eyes closed are his own…the opening notes like the first whisper of the storm before the human swarm racing the rain…a sigh a quiet battle cry.

The last trailing notes of a saxophone by a soloist in the French quarter playing through the rain…notes that betray the weathering of many storms, the loud moments of happiness and the quiet tones of pain, notes fight against every chain…that bind, that remind, hauntings that will not let one forget…moments of happiness and regret…all that pass the dreamcatcher’s net and all have to pass by The Soloist of Lafayette.

A sigh does not lie, any more than music can. A note misplayed breaks a song. The night streets and love prove who is just words and who is truly strong. The saxophonist plays alone in a throng. And by the searching moonbeams, the song he plays like mirage’s streams and betrayed dreams…whatever it touches…reaches for…is not what it seems.

Like a guardian at his post and station he stands and eyes that open to the song and passerby he demands:

“Bring me the night! Bring me the storms! There is no shelter from the songs. I’ll play the right notes through a lifetime’s wrongs.”

Some artists make their mark. The soloist only paints notes on the dark and as if by a sleepless sculptor’s hands, builds castles of dreams from castaway island’s sands washed away by the hungry waves and like the sea who sighs at the castaway’s feet the mainstream passes by as if the sum of all the tears to cry.

The soloist mortal as man though an expression of eternal soul, yet eyes that betray strain close into the song…this life has taken its toll. A confession in the words like the midnight’s unmasking at the masque ball after the dance is done and the phantasmal procession of notes has run.

The beckoning of strings whatever the notes and song brings. Eyes closed to the dark and bright

as rebel angel souls walk the night and find themselves take new form and wing in song.

Something searching in its tone as if asking the belle to dance…something craving in its honesty

half raving like the old soldier by the marquee on Lafitte.

The fireflies of the bayous still light his eyes with that spark that an artist carries till he dies.

“I’ll go to the city he dreams. I’ll make it big as a saxophone player,” he dreams, feeling invincible as a dragonslayer.

Daring enough gambler’s throw.

” I’m new in town. There a place I can lay my head down bro?”

The soloist, the dark soul of Cajun eves but what are soloists but thieves by their trade and rebel angel by masquerade.

After souls and hearts, thieves, anything that loves or grieves. The blues of seas and of skies, the blues of every musician that dies…playing in the sultry dark of Cajun eves where the veteran soldier cries in the dark. No orders to command. No directions to follow, confronted by ruin and poverty and its ordeals to swallow. But therein lies the potency of the composer’s creativity, lost dreams beckoned from urban human streams like shepherds called from the herds to nativity. Find your own words and path or be a statistic to a statesman’s math, find your own voice and let them hear honesty in wraith.

Eyes to the balcony strays to radiant vision in green gown, white and red beheld by the moon’s
bewitching pale rays haunting with words left unsaid. Like words finding the composer, falling as softly as magnolia blossoms as softly as a heart in love…by a lamppost where moths flock to die as his notes rise more softly in reply. As the lines seek to bring down an angel as the magnolia flowers blossom on the vines and petals fall by moonlight as if hailing him charmed open by the soloist’s lines, as if strangers opening up to others by the intoxication of as many wines.

An old couple stop to dance before soloist and streetlamp, no longer a tramp and the manor but bard for a moment before princess and gabled tower, that was the song’s magic and power and a tossed coin catches the light. the door to the balcony closes after a tossed flower and the stars never again shone bright.

As if all the world was an illusionist’s art vexing the soul and heart. Sleepwalking it seems through the dreamscape of magnolia blossoms falling in slow-motion afraid to the blues. What a notion? What true mariner is afraid of the ocean?

As if in answer to a composer’s appeal for an elusive muse and the right words, the night it seemed answered…as he walked the way home. He and the moon-cast shadows like a dimmed room’s dancers. Wind stirred the leaves of cypress trees as if the echoes of the sighs of a ghost’s regret., stirred like exiled memories, swept through a cascade of red and dark hair like the last echoes of a pilgrim’s prayer dark urgency of notes on page left unsung to the night, but some words have to be left unsaid and spoke by song of eyes alone kindled with soul’s light. The crowd can throw a coin, but have you no smile to spare? No words?

And like all truly wild things freeze before a car’s headlights before the eyes of the muse he pauses mid-song like a heart’s skipped beat and that face in the crowd that makes the awkward silence loud, or the one called back from the window and song and back into their world is lost again. Can I truly sing or write again?

“Go home. The storm’s curfew. It’s ten.”

Just as one cannot really learn philosophy’s lessons from a book’s abstracts, one cannot really

reach out in song unless they’ve cried and shivered by the tracks and if “beauty was in the eyes of the beholder” on the way back the night felt colder.

Just as only soldiers can really write of the horrors of war, to bring to the reader the gun’s roar

and only mariners can write of sea to bring forth the majesty of the wave and the guiding beacon of stars by the astrolabe, only one of a ship’s crews…the only one who can sing the blues

is the one who has really lived and dies on every alley and every street…only one who

has been in love, knows why the soloist sings and what he speaks of. And by the sputtering lamp where moths flock to die he sings his dreams to Valhalla because a man is forbidden to cry.

The tone of the music becomes darker…the tone like a shadow boxer to the night. Like a flight of ravens at a stage illusionist’s command notes are sent into the night like a raptor from a falconer’s hand, grasping as if for the stars lost to the city lights not enough songs to play before the tollings of midnights. Some pause mid-stride and cast a coin to him as if paying ferryman, as if seeking passage through the rain, through the pain.

Saxophone notes like night voyages of refugees seeking like restless souls through the intervals of neon lights. As if lordly huntsman after noble’s blood not animal meat, the notes glide rather than stride and collide with passerby, sparing none who laugh or cry, the strains of song seemed as if the restless shadows had been granted form and face to mingle with the passerby… to implore…to explore, for it is men, not dreams that die.

Saxophone steaming like a gun in the chill air as if a dirge-player in a graveyard of those lost to dares, steaming like the heart of a prince sacrificed and held up still beating, still cheating death and there was one among the ghosts haunting the street that still drew breath. Eyes as aloof in far-cast expression as a lone gambler gazing at the wake and stars from a paddle-steamer. Half-warding, half-lording, dark rhythms of the eve like a black knight’s lording.

Soloist because none would play next to him, so great was his art. but with it came

a curse that broke his heart, a curse and he turned to the shadows as if to the consoling

caress of a dark nurse. From lullaby to dirge, from cradle to grave. Play of life. Play of love.

Plaything of the gods. You’ll never have what you crave. And as if in answer to a composer who seeks elusive inspiration, and muse, there appears one face among the daughters of Eve glimpsed in the crowd who makes song lyrics silent and solaceless silence loud. Gone before he knows her name like a bewitching song on the radio by the bedside, to lull a restless heart to repose and his eyes gaze with the last vestige of midsummer’s moon on a wilted rose. Gone before the title of the song is known, will I say you again before I’m reduced to bones.

Bewitchment and inspiration, smile in passing an eloquential hush, silence mid-song for a sigh’s duration. The shadow of swaying cypress trees like palms in a hurricane like the palms of beggars stretching in the rain, the swaying shadow of trees like slow dancers in the night to the dark rhythms of the night a shadow silhouetted in the neon light amid the cypress trees eyes locked hauntingly on visions only he sees, wavering shadows like charmed serpents to a soloist heart that knows no repents and like a snake-charmer to their midnight sways he plays. playing as if only to their shadow dance steeling himself for another dawn a black knight calling for another lance for he will be no king’s pawn.

Like a nomad by the caravan fire he plays as if on fire by the muse and immolation of a phoenexian pyre, like the one blessed or cursed by song among the nomads of desert or urban tribes and he walks the dreamscape of sleepless lover and midnight scribes.

Haunted and vexed by words left unsaid and muses left unsung and his first few steps are like a marionette unstrung…silence across days like a procession of mimes yet haunting his crossroads as if the ghosts of highwaymen hung yet in the streets of the disenchanted he never loses his sense of wonder, his song exorcised the memories that vexed by the words left unsaid like a soldier waking from nightmare screaming in bed and to the ghosts of Christmases past he has to cross their way like a rite of passage last he avoids their soulless eyes like a guilt-haunted gentleman and hastens pasts for no night nor light ever lasts.

From dreaming up images of Lafitte’s ghost ship sailing from the marsh then ascending to the moon, from a bayou boy’s dreams to a city’s dark human streams, conjuring images in song from imagination to soloist at the station passed by crowds of many nation. and as his concentration strays and the music takes on a life of its own, he hears the cry from a house from news of a loved one lost in war from a phone.

Clouds formed in the sky into dream castles as he passed humming his song listening to the sounds from buildings…the tears and hassles, as he plays clouds take form and face as if by a necromancer’s artist’s trace on canvas of night over the nightly race.

Factory stacks smoke as if an assassin’s gun at the stars and sky as if the pipe of an addict drawing his last breath, doomed to die. He plays the nocturne the night through like the voyage of a night ship captained by a cursed man and ghostly crew.

I play to the street, not to the elite, singing not from the stage but kindred to the rage of a lion pacing it’s cage, not for the ladies and gents but those leaning groaning on the fence, those who can’t meet rents…for those who from old wounds grown for those to whom the park bench is a shadow throne and whose eyes implore the skies, raised like skeletal hands as saxophone music raises like the choir of a night’s bands.

Playing for those who dare laugh in the rain and those who sigh after that special one while waiting for the midnight train. A bayou boy’s eyes that saw poetry in the moon-lit wings of a crane and music in a wounded soldier’s pain...soundwaves like flood waters unearthing graves of masters and slaves, playing to its own frequency like an underground radio station to resistance fighters, its tempo and beat like the blood-chant of the heart and rebel fighters. Half-beckoning, half warding like the reign of a black knight’s lording.

Standing in the flurry of magnolia blossoms and cypress leaves by the sultry wind stirred. One does not have to be of the herd to be heard. Saxophone strains like the vagrant hastening after midnight trains...the night’s embrace that covers the haggard and dishevelled face and those among the passerby who dared to meet the soloist’s eye wondered as by the apparitional spotlight he disappeared: was he a ghost all along that one whose hearts with music he speared like a fisherman standing in a dark stream of passerby and every song a battle cry.

A dual citizen of Ireland and the states, Greg Patrick is an Irish/Armenian traveller poet and the son of a Navy enlisted man.  He is also a former Humanitarian aid worker who worked with great horses for years and loves the wilds of Connemara and Galway in the rain where he's written many stories. Greg spent his youth in the South Pacific and Europe and currently resides in Galway, Ireland and sometimes the states.

1 comment:

  1. You are a mariner to match the ocean. Bravo! Exacting, free-spirited, heart-borne, writing. It leaves me gasping.


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