August 26, 2009

If I Were Chet Baker

by James Hannon

If I were Chet Baker I’d be dead this year,
worn out a decade ago,
with ten bonus years
for good genes and the fear of death
to keep me alive.

Tracks seem to collide
in the distance but we know
there’s always space between them;
paths in a wood look familiar
‘til we’re pretty far down the wrong one.

Lots of people grow up hard
and never turn to crime
so make no excuses for some barrio kid
whose life was just the same
as all the others.

I hated music lessons
and never wanted to play a horn.
There was no smack in my little town
in the summer of love--it was the time
for pot and acid, the drugs of LIFE

we called them, not death
and I got sober and went sometimes to meetings
and couldn’t tell you even now
why I am more or less well and don’t
need the drink or drugs to feel it’s good to be alive.


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