(Miles Davis, 1926–1991)

This is what heroin must feel like—

Miles Davis exacting

his way through “Autumn Leaves”—
pretty and cold, a slowly spreading frost

along synapses and veins,
mapping interstellar darkness

one blue note at a time. Sometimes you could hear
him thinking through the changes

like he was hunting himself, relentless
and without mercy, then a burst of blue

flame, squeezing the Harmon mute like a man screaming
from the bottom of a mine shaft—

but however brightly the darkness glows,
it is still darkness, and Miles was a blackbird

on a field of snow, beautiful, distant, quiet—

and however many steps you take to meet him he flies
ten more feet away.

Copyright © 2015 by Anthony Walton. This poem was first printed in Black Renaissance Noire, Vol. 15, Issue 1 (Spring–Summer 2015). Used with the permission of the author.