Jazzless by Clayre Benzadón (Lucent Dreaming Issue 11)

Scratchy bass. My father, drenched in moon, in music.
I remember him taking out his rusty saxophone from the case.
By now, it’s probably in the attic, or already sold.

Before, I’d stay up listening.

An amber alcohol-cologne regularly drifted from his room, a combination of reed solution and Lemon Agua de Colonia. The smell has currently been replaced by a father oil-sweated, sitting near our old playroom desk, with a bass sharper than the jazz, into the phone, directed towards one of his restaurant employees:

Es…es paja.

Straw. The thin, transparent straw of glass noodles.

Or I imagine a worker as a scarecrow, leaning wood-like, in front of the glass display of noodles and vegetables, instead of the back of the kitchen with the woks and cash register, as if he or she were deciding which favorite ice cream flavor to choose from, slowly indulging, idling…

My imagination rambles off.
I idle in my room, wiggle on my bed, too lazy to look through my small stack of old middle school CDs while in the family room, my dad sits on carpet, wiping off a Chet Baker album with his white tank.

At the bottom of the CD stack, I find The Aristocats soundtrack: “Todos Quieren Ser Un Gato Jazz”, the Mon Laferte version, with her sad romanticism, before I lonelily longed, broke down to her songs later on in life, after a breakup.

pues solo saben ruido hacer / sin coordinación
El jazz se debe improviser y sincopar

How do you find connection in between disorganization and syncopation?

Jazz’s meaning derives from excitement. My dad and I had shared in that naïve jest, harmonizing to David Bowie’s “Changes” every car ride to elementary school.

vamos el ritmo a cambiar—

My dad rests a black case on the carpet of his room, slowly unbuckles the metal latches, then takes out his sax. He hugs the instrument. As he releases intonations of copper, my dog’s head bobs along — the phone interrupts: it’s the restaurant.

en “blues” que salga—

Blue energy leaves the room. Radiates out of my father’s phone instead. As he leaves, I step outside and soak in silver — slivered holograph of cadence, chromatic. If I thought it was cold inside, with the blue electric light, it’s even cooler here, with the damn blue moon (thanks Billie Holiday).

A few minutes later, I hear my dad’s loud voice (not cool and collected) turn into progressive squeaks, his desperate sucking of air into his sax, as if to resuscitate it.

I wait to go back inside, to wait for the metallic cyan to die down. Maybe I’m afraid to go back in, to sit surrounded in all the invisible ringing, the resonant weight that hovers around. To face the fact that these heavy features (this baggage) keeps changing: music, the demands of fast-casual restaurant / labor industry, our relationship.

If I stay here long enough, I’m afraid I’ll turn out stale and as bland as a stand of tune crushing, rusting, in barren tone blue jam.

Clayre Benzadón received her MFA at University of Miami. She is a Split Lip Magazine poetry reader. Her chapbook, Liminal Zenith was published by SurVision Books. Her full-length collection, Moon as Salted Lemon was a finalist for the 2021 Robert Dana-Anhinga Poetry Prize and Semifinalist for Sundress Publications’ Open Reading Period. She has been published in places including 14poems, SWWIM, and Fairy Tale Review.
@ClayreBenz | clayrebenzadon.com

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