Blue Notes—Jack Myers, In Memoriam

by Sydney Lea

Our good friend Mark forwarded your lovely
          “Cirrus” soon after you died.
                    I’d have wept at it even if you’d been alive.

We are bound to honor your words: let my epitaph be /
          the glance, the edge, /the mist.
                    You were a mensch to the very last,

your poem touched by that rare wit I’ll forever
          connect with you, but to me
                    it’s the splendid late life humility

among the poets a quality much rarer
          that makes you dearer.  Tonight,
                    having read you, I slip back to meeting The Blue Notes.

They were then no longer The Charlemagnes,

          but Teddy Pendergrass
                    wasn’t their lead yet.  I was in those days

a regular at that bar at 5th & Pine,
          and every visit was worth
                    every penny, its jukebox the best on earth.

One night I shook the hand of the soul group’s founder.
          I actually met Harold Melvin,
                    which seemed an unmerited blessing.

He’d come into the place with two of the other singers,
          their names unremembered now.
                    They stood by the door and then broke out

in an a cappella version of “Out and Let Me
          Cry.”  ’65.  All hell
                    was breaking loose, Dr. King in jail,
war burgeoning.  The three men’s harmony
          though it’s only now I can sense
                    what it was that I saw come to pass

epitomized the astonishing impulse to song
          against all the reasons to cry.
                    You too had reasons and sang.  Today,

I long to sing back to you, friend,   somewhere along
          the edges,   among the mists.
                    I met you,   I heard you for years,   Jack.   I was blessed.