*Four Miles Is a Long Way to Fall*
By Mark Nielsen, Aug/Sept 2012
Miles is to jazz
As Bob is to rock
As you are to me
And I am
But still trying.
I hope —
despite that famous Fitzgerald saying–
that there is a second act to
this American life.
Some are pursued
by a long, inescapable shadow cast
by bright spotlights in their youth,
a shadow stretching darkly
into a less stellar future.
(let the Bieber beware).
Whereas Pete and Roger (Who?) changed their minds
and now are quite glad to be old
instead of dead,
Sonny Rollins plays a beautiful dirge
and quietly misses old friends.
Early brilliance, when it fades,
reaches out into a shame-infested future
with long, patient, insidious fingers
(not to mention drugs, lots of drugs,
under starry skies above–
with Coleridge, Bird and Hunter Thompson
leading the funeral procession).
The broken boy
–whether or not his dream came true–
Often stalks the burnt-out man.
Pray for me,
Saint Johnny the Rotten.
Wait, on second thought don’t.
“Don’t look back,”
Which I guess is the secret.
Me, I’ll stick with the Three Things That Last:
and a killer hook to set up the bridge.
Sid Vicious was a moron,
But Neil is eternally Young.
So just give me Pete Seeger’s hammer,
plus my six-string Hamer acoustic axe,
And let me go back to my campfire
In the woods.
Five friends and a thousand appreciative spiders
Are all the audience I need.