Old Guys Surrender the Jukebox

Debuting a new piece with Geoffrey Keezer at the Eau Claire Jazz Festival this Friday and Saturday (schedule and ticket info here). Never done anything like this, just me standing there in my boots reading while Geoffrey and the jazz cats do their thing. The piece I wrote is about a military veteran and a muse and a bridge, and it’s called “Old Guys Surrender the Jukebox,” and it starts like this:


The warm air hits me like a beer belch
As I step inside the Joynt
Outside it’s cold
Not scarf-and-sweater cold, not mama-knit-yer-mittens cold;
Deep freeze cold, death star cold. Ted-Williams-cranium-in-a-tank cold.
A real nose-hair snapper.
I stop and stomp—it’s how we make an entrance around here
Knock the snow out, knock the feeling in.

Place feels right tonight,
The cue-ball click, the floorboard creak,
The peanut shell crackle underfoot.
The cheap taps, the shot-glass rap, the chaser,
The rattle of the till, the scrape of change, the hey-dere yah-hey
And back above the bar, a simple neon fact: “No Light Beer”
As I am long-term teetotal I find this
Neither a discouragement nor an encouragement.
“O’Doul’s,” I tell the barkeep, “and keep’em comin’”
Then I tip him three quarters and say, “Ach, one’ll prolly do’er.”


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