The Wrong Notes (A poem Thelonious Monk caused)

My truck cab is compact

But built for euphony.

I squeeze in for a ride,

Disc in hand

To fit my feeling,

Slide it in the player:

No place for sound to go

But to besiege me beautifully.

I don’t even know I am driving


A splendid day.

Sun’s rays,

Monk’s notes,

And a healthy engine

Turn me

Half my age as I

Cruise the main drag.

No beer between my legs

But my fellows are using their

Turn signals

And eschewing phones

Out there.

Hardly does this bliss

Settle when a crabbed image

From our sick spirit

Troubles my sight:

Four rumpled men

With signs and staves

Shouting at girl

Ducking in a clinic door.

I want to blast my horn as I pass.

Backs to the road,

They stand a yard from the curb.

Heart attack, perhaps?

They could be ministering

To the poor

Instead of fouling this child’s day

And mine.

As I ball my fist

Another sound intrudes.

The cab is tight.

It’s Monk,

Hammering out

A dissonant smear

(Like that picket gang)

To break the ear’s ease

In half.

Like the porter’s knock,

To break the spell,

But of pleasure,

Not horror.

Either spell is

Chicanery in our

Quest for truth.

Monk, those notes

Were right.

I drove past


As one you suspended.


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