by Donald Levering
is not the name of the stone-&-timber
former silver mine jammed with grizzled hippies,
feisty dykes, buckled bikers, jazz-&-black-tar
junkies who can point to the stool
where last week one of their own
slumped into his rush and never rallied.
Packs of dogs patrol the bar, as if we’d arrived
in some dusty African outpost
and not a revived mining town
of the American West called Madrid,
which you just mispronounced in your head;
the residents stress syllable one like an upbeat.
The band is wrapping Scrapple from the Apple
as los perros squabble over scraps.
Near the Mineshaft Tavern sign a fan
calls out Dizzy’s tune; the group dismisses
their set list to confer about
Tunisia’s key and chord changes.
They strike up a long introduction,
cool & meditative, like Miles Davis
nodding off on smooth steel rails to Copenhagen,
before the tempo changes and we ride
the syncopation train to Tunis.
Why this combo turned up here
with their East Coast nuevo bop
the locals are too stoned to grasp
is not danceable,
weaving cobra-charmer arms in slow mo
to sax prestissimo.
How the house percussionist hustles
to keep pace; how the keyboard player
turns Tunisia into a revelation.
How the lanky bass gambols through it all,
even while the whacked-out hooker
mounts the stage to shake her bazooms.
Shrill whistles penetrate applause and cheers,
but the band has rolled on into Perdido,
standing before the maw of the played-out mine,
a breeze from within blowing through them.