So sweet on "On Green Dolphin Street,"
"Fran Dance," and "Stella By Starlight"
with Bill Evans in your corner. No one --
not even that funny valentine, Chet Baker,
with his ravaged school boy/James Dean looks,
could touch you and your Harmon mute on ballads.
'58 must have been some Doris Day dream
you never woke from. All the hedges clipped like poodles
and Howdy Doody freckled chicklet-toothed rubes
smiling from every corn flakes box. Gosh! Could
it be the big ones Truman dropped really were
mushrooms and we all nibbled at their spore-filled
caps like beady-eyed mice? Was everything really
so terribly nice? The blue tinge of longing
you gild the roses with suggests not. But still,
so much of life fit into these beautiful bars.
Who would have thought that all that space foreplay
that would put man in the moon's labia would be preceded
by your forays to the farther planets, Venus and Mars?
You had "Love For Sale," wanted life
straight with no chaser. Could cut
cheese on the straight creases of your pants.
No ants in 'em. At least not up there on stage.
You were the quintessence of cool in those days.
Our Funny Valentine taking all the oil
out of Rollin's Oleomargarine and compressing
it to such a pure golden yellow substitute
for butter we all took to having toast and
two eggs, sunny side up, for breakfast.
Cannonball and 'Trane took your box cars
around so many turns of track loneliness
had a new name. We called it Miles
after distance covered; you made it feel
like home though we could never go there again.