In the Magic City
Jake Adam York

The needle floats over and over 
     the end of Coltrane’s “Alabama,” 
channeling in the rush of feet, 
     of tires wearing down
into the asphalt and the browning air
     the static that backs the horn

when I start it up again. 
     Tyner almost sweats 
what he keeps just out of time, 
     what Jimmy’s talking from the strings 
like something’s coiled up there,
     a static even Elvin never shakes.

Or maybe what the needle thinks,
     some Old South air trapped in ladled steel,
a space that quotes the ridges
     and their empty veins, old Sloss
filling up with fire
     or Cherry’s heat opening 16th Street

into the space Coltrane fills 
     when he feeds his tenor, 
what Sun Ra kept opening out 
     for anything more 
than George Wallace’s crossroads deal,
     the static in Clifford Gibson singing

Keep your windows pinned
     as storm winds thrill Sloss’s tunnels
and flush its ghosts out over the city
     where Vulcan’s torch goes red,
Coltrane raining down his “Alabama”
     like white-hot iron, like stars

that draw from the dark as they spin
     Maubilla and Horseshoe Bend
the way Elvin works the cymbals
     into distant crowds. 

And when it ends again
     I step out and through the blocks
where you can hear 
     the quartets warming up
through the nightclub chatter
     and hope tonight, 

in one of these joints
     some DJ breaks all his needles, 
some combo plays harder 
     than they’ve ever played,
that someone, that anyone 
     will work just hard enough

to shut the city down
     and groove the night again.
for Chris Campagna
and Sascha Feinstein
Originally appeared in Brilliant Corners

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