Do the Do
When the drummer tattoos his snare
And puts the hammer down on the high hat,
Taking a stick to the blues,
The band kicks in, Uptown Louie and the Regulators,
Brawl of piano and a foghorn sax, gitstrings
On rhythm and lead, with a fat bass at the bottom.
This ain’t no martini music,
chanteuseIn a throaty hush, smoke wrapped around her
Like a foxhead stole, brushes soft on the tight skin.
This is mayhem in the neighborhood, rimshots and beer.
It brings the ladies out
Like a hard knuckle knocking at the back door.
It gets the mopes and the gimps and the bedridden up
And slips their sockets loose
Until they do the do with a shaky strut.
Louie’s looking good tonight in a Hong Kong suit.
He’s got the hair and the sneer
And a voice rough as creosote on a telephone pole.
Skeeter can make his left hand
Slap the scales around until they scream
And leap like the Holy Ghost boogie of Jerry Lee.
That’s “Night Train” you hear, Bad Alvin on the honk and slur—
Ten years on the road to earn his scars
In a dozen duck-for-cover bands.
It’s all jism and jungle, late love and cheroots,
Sweat equity on the dance floor.
Somebody lies about his rusty heart. Somebody don’t.
And now it’s “Harlem Nocturne,” low in the gut,
Time split down the middle
By a midnight clock, air going blue on a slow drip.
Louie nods once at the tired room
And lets the last chord linger, so sweet, so sad
That even the dim light trembles at the end of the song.