Bird Lives
-for Charlie Parker
By Kara L.C. Jones

Charlie your death date
intermingles with the birth
and death date of my own son.
He died March 11th,
you died March 12th.
What was it
that killed you
at the old age
of 34?
Was it your own daughter's death--
she with the hole in her heart,
died at 2 years old
before they knew how
open heart surgery could save her?

BeBop, Jazz, the music of Bird,
none of it enough
to keep you afloat
none of it enough
to fill the gaping sorrow
that ripped thru you
when your child died.

Your wife Chan shared with us
all these years later
the 4 wire messages
you sent that day,
each one more steeped
in the shock of death
than the last--
one simply saying,
"Chan, Help."

Bird, if you could only know
how many grieving parents
walk this earth, undead,
waiting to join their children
on the other side,
if you could only know
how well I understand your plea--
"Chan, Help."

Today it's my turn,
today I sit here
slowly falling to pieces
slowly being crushed
by the weight
of life after the death
of my child,
Oh Bird!
If only you could know
how very much I understand!

After your death, Bird,
your followers, all those
dedicated music lovers,
littered the walls of
Greenwich Village with
spray painted tags reading
but, Bird, they were fools,
they didn't understand even
after your death,
they didn't know your heart
the way I do.
They couldn't possibly
have understood
that after the death
of one's child,
even the music
ceases to matter.


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