Thursday, March 15, 2012

Life On 3rd Avenue

back in the day, long before
google, CNN and blackberry
there was life on third avenue

the young boys played ball
back in the alley
the old men met for ten o'clock coffee
down at Carol's diner
and Roy at the butcher shop
weighed his cuts with his eyes,
eyes that were soft and kind

i'm talking back when starbucks
was still Bobby's Mac's House of Blues
and Ol Miller Jackson could bend
those strings around unknown corners

it would start slow and easy
just like the whiskey,
but around midnight, when
men closed their eyes
and began to sway,
when the holy spirit
began to move in waves
of sodden passion
Ol Miller would feel the fire, too
and he burned us up in the blaze

damn, it was good!

and Marley always sat in the corner
eyes fixed, lips pursed, leg swingin
never payin us any mind,
only the music

until Miller would smile her way,
start to chuckle, then wave her up,
and then, we who knew,
waited for our religion to come

God how that girl could tune our hearts
while Miller took her up into clouds

but that was then, and Miller's long
been laid to rest

and i used to walk past her place
when the club closed,
lean in the dim light,
against the lamp post
just below her window
and glance up to her shadow
drifting behind the shade

and once the light went out
i'd smile, and hum myself home

one night, in a steady rain
while i got wetter and wetter
waiting forever for that
light to go out,
instead, the shade went up,
the window raised open,
and i looked up to see Marley
sitting on the ledge, smiling

"What you doin out there in the rain,
you stupid boy? Aint you got a lick of sense?"
then she shook her head
and laughed into her hands

i threw my cigarette in the street
looked up through the rain
and smiled back
"Well, Miss Marley, I don't guess I do"

it was the first time she spoke to me,
first time i knew her to speak to anyone
first time i knew her to smile

course, that was a long time ago
and her apartment's now a verizon store

but i swear, back in the day
once upon a time
there was life
on third avenue