Fayetteville Drum Room, 1995

by Kevin Rabas

That night, I snuck into the practice room, the drums
crumpled up. I had sticks. I played the low tom first, called
on my heart with low notes, kettle drum roll, double
(now) singlestroke rolls. I had given up drums
for writing in Arkansas. Saw the MFA as the way.
Was wrong. When I took up drums again, I wrote better.
Met girls. Danced and kissed and rose again, like a daffodil
come up through snow, a green tuft, then a trumpet of gold.
I was offered a scholarship to stay and play. But I left, went home,
read at nursing homes, sat in at KC jams, found my way back
into city and jazz. What I saw, what I heard: I wrote.
Music came once more through my hands: I held sticks, held a pen.
I wanted the two: music and word melody. I listened
to Langston, to Baraka. Someone was out there ahead
with voice, with saxophone, with a drum. I could follow:
the blue neon moon, the brush swish, the trail of spent lemons
     on sidewalk,
the litter of guitar picks and halved drum sticks, the microphone
turned on its side, swiveled and pulled into two.