“Ah,Um”

by Rainier Harris

Ah,Um

for Charles Mingus

Cacophony of instruments rudely disrupt the silence in my ears &
claim the space as their own to live and thrive. First, the saxophone

with its tang & pang & variety & what is. Piano, forte, mezzopiano
repeat. The tongue pitter patters on the mouthpiece, embouchure tightening

its hold, showing no signs of regression yet soft and silky. I can hear
the nuances in unison with each other, bending, shaping and carving

their sound onto me like a jagged piece of a broken wine bottle, wrapped
in linen. The piano is the conductor, steady heart while the bass

stands with it, at attention. Swoon, swoon under the pallor of the moon,
to soon your songs give me reprieve. I yearn for your sound to

dictate to me what I feel, I am subservient, at its will. Tell me Charles,
how does the ivory, with its thin white layer on top, work in conjunction

with black, like me. Seamlessly, you say, with no hesitation, no prerequisites,
no judgement, no prejudice, no hate but supplementary to one another,

hand in hand. Is that a trombone I hear, its slider making way to my ear? It
never asked for an opportunity, it made it itself, no questions asked. It was

lurking in the shadows waiting for its recognition but alas, it never came. Yet,
it is the guiding hand for the saxophone, burning bright in front. I can

smell the brass, steam off, so poignant reaching the recess of my ears. Low G,
High G, don’t forget the octave key. It stings I wail, it stings. The rhythm is clear

now. Doo-de-le-bat in variations, changing tempo. Wait! A crescendo! All
together now, nobody left behind [that includes you trombone], rise like a

tidal wave, blessed with sunlight, imprinting your image into listener’s ears. But
the bass keeps them rooted down, sewed into the ground. Makes sure they

don’t get too cocky and boisterous. Calm Down! The bass is both the beacon
and the oars, stroking through jet black waters. It is firm, and strong, the

glue that keeps these mesh of airheaded, talented, buffoons together and in pace. It
has some grit and grain in its voices, like my father, an anchor.

Tap your feet, tap your feet,
Mingus will never miss a beat.

About the Author

Rainier Harris

Rainier Harris is a high school sophomore from New York City. He is the founder and editor in chief of Weary Blues Magazine.