Collected Poems of John Holmes
Holmes, John A., Jr.
One golden egg of the nineteen-twenties a hatch
Of music gold and gray, contradictory parable
Of a generation lost dancing under a ballroom dome.
Tenor saxophones and tenor banjos worked a trouble
In the blood, gin blurred the drum-beat's time-beat.
The you-can't-go-home-again blues got under the theme
Of anything goes, doorkeeper's thrown away the latch.
The twenties are fifties now, in our ears a ringing
Of morning-long-after music. Never no regrets, some loss,
Cried the brassy trumpet, the clarinet silver and ebony.
Heart and horn in sweet desperation of discourse,
A safe agony, advised us yet young to flee, flee,
Chords shaped in the shape of our sensibility,
By the violin modulated to a hint of lingering.
That was a good time. I was light on my feet as smoke,
Moving to those songs, whispering, would not be severed,
Never, ever, the girls I danced with said. Of a height
To look out over the lost heads, I could not, covered
In a loud dreary flood of stardust. A good time to float.
We danced a decade off the calendar, our day was night.
A generation lost in woodwinds and old war-smoke.