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IMPROVISING RIVERS / David Jauss Nights I cannot sleep I improvise rivers, yeUow wiUows drooping over pools where trout drowse, their fins keeping them steady, and overhead the blue river of sky, endless, eddying around islands of clouds. Lying in bed I Usten to the jazz of water's passage over rocks, the rapidfire arpeggios of riffles, the walking bass-line of backwater lapping faUen oaks, and threading through it aU, in rhythm as syncopated as sun and shadow beneath flickering leaves, the high horn trills of cedar waxwings, a bird I've never seen near any river. Why do I drag its sweet song into this prelude The Missouri Review · 39 to dream? Because the last time I fished the Norfork two turkey vultures flapped past, huge wings slapping the dawn into submission, their heads looking scalded or skinned, red executioners' hoods, and because I love cedar waxwings, the muted beauty of their gold-gone-gray, their raccoon-masked eyes and the quaver in their song, that courageous admission of uncertainty. And this river is not the Norfork or Chippewa nor any other river I've known though no doubt these rapids and that limestone bluff, the muskrat, hair sUcked back Uke some 50s' rocker, and the stalking crane, aU rise Uke photographs from memory, not wiU. But though the known is their current, these rivers are mine, they belong to the nowhere to which I retreat at night, 40 · The Missouri Review David Jauss though just as they carry me into sleep, I carry them into each day, so that when I rise and look in the mirror, that slowest of rivers, I can see my face drifting down the years Uke a leaf, and though I cannot know where the river is carrying me, or why, I can hear (soft now, then softer still) the music of my passing. David Jauss The Missouri Review · 41 AFTER THE END OF THE WORLD / David Jauss Sun Ra and His Intergalactic Research Arkestra, Berlin, 1976 The Arkestra, gUttering in their Saturn gowns and galaxy caps, cosmic rosaries round their necks tuned to infinity. Dancers, acrobats, a fire-eater. Beside Sun Ra's organ, a telescope on its tripod, aimed toward the stars beyond the ceiling lifting off, a spaceship. Squinting one eye, opening wide the other. Welcome to the eighth ring of Saturn, home sweet home. Snickers. If only they could hear his Music from the Private Library of the Creator of the Universe, they'd know how homesick he was. He'd recorded it twice but the tape stayed blank. It was His property, he could dig that. Forbidden fruit. Solaristic Precept Number Two: The sequence of Ufe is sound diminished to its smallest point: sUence. The smeU of butter rum Lifesavers: Coltrane here again. 1959, the Sutherland Lounge in Chicago, reading his precepts, laughing but not laughing too and later playing, now and then, scattered phrases from the Private Library. A dozen of the universe. Welcome, John. Take a seat in the Eternal Thought and listen to the Future with us. Solaristic Precept Number One: Thorough consideration of the patterns of the past; coming events cast their shadows before. Thafs why you have to give up your life before you die. Anybody can give it up and die but to keep on Uving after, thafs the test, ain't it, John? Pythagoras, 42 · The Missouri Review Tycho Brahe, Galileo, all of them medicine-men from outer space who died into new Uves. Behind him the Arkestra finishes "Ifs after the End of the World," and he rises, a black sun, to bow and bless the BerUners who do not know the impossible is possible because the impossible is a thought and every thought is real. I've come from Saturn to make you citizens of Infinity. How else could he, a boy of seven in Birmingham, the first time he saw music, play it? John, you could teU them, if only you could speak once more on your saxophone, if only the future weren't so loud it deafens everyone doomed to Ufe on this planet. David Jauss The Missouri Review · 43 THE MASTER MUSICIANS OF JOUJOUKA / David Jauss...


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