The hats of a poet dead and gone

For Ken Smith, more or less

 

The hats, he confessed, were put on for the job
even the hat he stole from the great poet
everyone thought was dying,
still pungent from those unwashed curls.
There were hats worn to 1000 beds,
to Transylvania, Havana, the Wyldwood
and one at last to St James Infirmary.
Hats passed round & round in bars
too mean to have names
or that street corner where poets pimp their muse.
The hat of youth he tossed into the storm
a sucker’s sacrifice for luck with hazard,
rascal wit to light libidos, to be ever drunk
with words, guzzling them like clots of bloodied
hope, navy proof, furiously incurable, burning
in the throat and ear, turning the heart inside out,
            “…to make more of what is,
             the world from its nothings.”

The truncheon crimped hat of comrade miner
he pulled down low for the Hebden Bridge gig.
Before the night was done, he was a genie
beating on the walls  of his bottle.
Do I know you?
Not, in fact, talking to the person
he was talking to, Do I know you? The glass
fell away as he slammed out the saloon doors
careening into the night paradise, a beast of the zodiac
chasing mermaids, high on the electricity of pennies,
his poet’s purse, filling his mouth
with the taste of the grave and all that would
ever after, not be said.

Text:   Jay Jeff Jones

Graphic: Martin Sudden


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2 Responses to The hats of a poet dead and gone

  1. M.S. Wincoff says:

    What a great poem. I may have to borrow the line “Where Poets Pimp Their Muse.” The Sudden illustrateion is also up to snuf, although I haven’t actually tried snuff in half a century ..

  2. Jan Herman says:

    i read this stunning poem seven years later and wonder what else i’ve missed besides immeasurably beautiful lines like these:

    …careening into the night paradise, a beast of the zodiac
    chasing mermaids, high on the electricity of pennies,
    his poet’s purse, filling his mouth
    with the taste of the grave and all that would
    ever after, not be said.

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