To celebrate National Poetry Month, The Poetry Box is sharing a Poem-of-the-Day, selected from various anthologies and individual poet collections that we have published over the years.
Please enjoy today’s selection: “If Jimi Hadn’t Died So Young” by dan raphael which appears in The Poeming Pigeon: Poems about Music:
If Jimi Hadn’t Died So Young
In this world Jimi Hendrix didn’t die at 27
but kept advancing his prowess on the guitar,
playing two at once, multiple strings. like Chaplin
he could do anything he did
backwards as well, and sometimes would start a song in the middle
and go 4 or 6 different ways from there,
ensphering himself and listeners
in shifting laminae of sound.
At a show in Philly most of the audience blacked out,
several suffered “stroke-like symptoms,” two disappeared.
With a lawsuit filed by a victim, the government seized Jimi’s guitars,
the Pentagon volunteering to study the evidence.
More guitars were built.
More people plugged into Hendrix
and played guitars several hours a day.
No one knew if Jimi was in jail, hiding, or if his playing
had opened new dimensions in vibratory time.
Are we still on the same world we started on?
What chords could I make with 9 strings and six fingers?
Reports of others disappearing while Hendrix played, with the feds
suppressing the total.
On March 1st
a 10 meter tall transparent creature emitting guitar-like sounds
shattered a 2 kilometer stretch of the great wall of China,
then vanished in a rancid fog.
In paranoid anticipation, guitarists cleared music store shelves
The sun rose with ear splitting feedback surrendering
to an arpeggio of random vertebra,
nerve triggers ranging from St. Vitus to waltz, many unable to drive
coz theyre feet wouldn’t stay still. Radios were ignored, no ear buds
could keep out the panoply of music, bodies finding new limbs,
my feet trading myccorhizally while my suddenly tendriled hair
embraces the pollen filled sky, billions of microscopic notes
ready to bloom into life-expanding solos,
some neighborhoods so thick with music
you need neither amplifier or guitar, you and the air
to take us where we never could be.