For Louie Who Died July 1971
By Kara L.C. Jones

"No him, no me."
-Dizzy Gillespie's answer when asked what Jazz
would be like for him after Louis Armstrong's death.

You defined the music
the movement, the life
and yet you lived in a
small house surrounded
by neighborhood children
who loved you
because you bought them
ice cream.

You were married to
Lucille all those years
and yet had no children.
I often wonder
if, behind that
never-ending smile,
there were tears for
babies miscarried
or stillborn?

One man recalled
seeing you sit alone
on an empty, dark sound stage
looking up to heaven
sadness holding your tilted head.
What was beneath that,
and did the hidden
sadness and anger
lead to your weak heart?

They said you smoke marijuana
every single day of your life--
hardly a behavior
that would be granted
sainthood today.
How did you keep your lungs
full of clean air to blow
your horn while masking
behind all that smoke?

Mr. Armstrong,
I wish I had known you
had seen you at Newport
that summer of 1970
when you glowed
around the edges, sang out
to heaven above &
audience below,
I wish I had seen you
walking this Earth,
in your body of Grace,
your heart pumping music
that made us all forget
you were human.


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