Notes from the underground #2

Django is the connecting poem to Pieces he will never play. Its title comes from the Gypsy Jazz guitarist Django Reinhart.

I based Django on a real person; let’s just call him Dave. Dave was my old college roommate; we shared the same space for not much longer than a term. I remember he was exceptionally shy, and never really took part in the usual student round of drinking, dancing and looking for love.

He was one of those people who, if he’d gone to parties, would have nestled quietly in a corner. One of those people who no one notices. His voice barely rose above a whisper. He was otherworldly. A ghost, almost.

As Django he played guitar in our room; he made eastern inflected music, that floated on air. I still recall him sitting on his single bed; body turned to the right, head down. His long bony fingers reminded me of a painting by El Greco. He was more Seventeenth than Twentieth Century.

Dave left halfway through the second term, he never returned.

Ten years later, I met him at Bank Station in one of those long tunnels that seem to go on for miles. I heard the sound of his guitar; those eastern scales that made me think of places like The Alhambra and Marrakech.  Then I saw his tall bony body, bent forward, like a figure of Christ.

I can’t remember what was said that day, and I never saw him again.

Django                                              March, 2013.

Django played in the tunnels beneath Bank Station.
He fashioned a twisted scale,
that drifted on the air.
And he made me think of Morocco,
and the sweet fragrant smell of Marrakech.

Django all awkward and angular,
with a mop of thick blond hair
Had large bony fingers,
that made  me think of Christ’s,
bending round the cross.

Django hummed as he played.
More moan than tune,
It sounded raw and real, and how he could feel the music.
And he made me think of the Mississippi delta,
and the wide expanse of river rolling along.

Django spoke silently to me,
 and I to him.
We acknowledged each other,
as familiar strangers do,
with a nod of our heads.

One Christmas,
he wore a velvet hat Trimmed with ermine fur;
and an Arabian cloak to keep out the cold.
And I though of Gold, Incense, Frankincense and myrrh;
and things like joy and goodwill to all like Django.

Django was the name,
sent telepathically to me.
And I thought of Django Reinhart,
and his paralyzed fingers,
and of those who are not as fortunate as he.

Django busked during the winter of 1984,
while miners struck and the GLC crumbled.
And the memory of him, brings into focus,
this current hard winter,
and how warm it is underground.


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