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from the March 2007 issue

Fantasy in Black and White

Fantasy in Black and White

I'm lying on my sickbed
a smoking cigarette between my fingers

I drink a glass of whiskey and soda
while I listen to a Duke Ellington CD

His heart has died a supernatural death
and his friends keep watch over him

with instruments that sound like voices
and voices that sound like instruments

the trumpet of Cootie Williams
the trombone of Juan Tizol
and three saxes that wail in unison

A rainbow rises in my glass
and my room is full of musicians

It's 1930 and I still haven't been born

I'm in the Cotton Club of Harlem
at the table of Owney the Killer

The orchestra is playing "Mood Indigo"
that sadness of an unreal color

The mutes of the trumpets caress my ear
like the prelude of a kiss in the dark

Duke Ellington comes near my bed without making a sound
puts his hand on my forehead and tells me:

"I remember the glass of whiskey that was emptied alone
I remember the cigarette that levitated in the Cotton Club
Rest in peace phantom of 1930"

I hear a man whistling in the street
and the echo of his steps walking away

© Oscar Hahn. By arrangement with the author. Translation © 2007 by James Hoggard. All rights reserved.

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