Richard Clair wafted away 
              wafted away       from his body
he's a good friend
     a very good friend
how can you say that? 
you              barely know him
    that's true
            but it isn't true
            he would sit for hours
                               using nowords
a wide uplifted smile on his face
then someone would say 'cycling'
     his frame lit up like
$20,000 touring bikes
                  he spouted streams of words
                             collages of brand names
                                         pastiches of famous bikers
after a jazz concert
                he expected long, stretching silence
                     pockets of pure reverence
if you spoke he startled as though
   you were interrupting replays of long, rhapsodic saxophone solos
walking away was a postlude;              part of the entire episode
                            many times i stood next to him
                            after pouring the wine
                                          no sounds---we were smelling
                                          no touching--we were tasting
                  it was about the wine, we were present and unpresent

and then, political discussions when he would lie limp like a soft snake
waiting for a pause
skillfully he would slide in and never let go of his liberal rope
until you agreed                           or made everyone laugh

he hugged me so many times without the slightest hint of a touch
it was a long universal squeeze 
as he tripled in size, enveloped me 'til i broke away to breathe

when he wafted away  there were ringlets of floating lavender
Chet could be heard in the far off clouds
                                  everyone waved and moved toward silence


every time we say hello we hold each other tighter
      every time we say hello our eyes are so much brighter
            all the gods above us must be in the know
                they think so little of us, we don't want to go
when you're near there's such an air of spring around us
     we can hear a lark somewhere begin to sing about us
        there's no love song finer, don't modulate into a minor
                every time we say hello
"i know those words but they're changed
 oh my god! Ella will be furious."
                         "they've been changed a hundred times
                          she doesn't mind, she's a real lark."
"this is weird, i'm talking to a piece of cloud
 a filmy strip of silver and yet i know i'm talking to Chet Baker."
                          "you are babe. you've listened to me so often
                           and you know how to listen.
                           you close your eyes. you sink into melody
                           you go where it goes, you know what it knows.
                           you know how many times you wanted to scat
                           scat with me now
                           Dick does Chet, Chet does Dick"
"but i can't scat, i don't know step one "
                           "you know all the steps
                            follow that long smooth road of my trumpet
                            keep the melody tucked into your soul
                            let it dance or skip wherever it wishes
                 Chet and Dick do every time, all the time,anytime---"

to the center of the universe
   when you wake, you reach for your ax
        your ax is your instrument
             your ladder to your soul
                  you may need some liquor
                      you may need some dope
                          you may smoke some weird things
                              as you climb the rope
                              we are all in deep meditation
                              Miles with his arrogant tone
                              Louis with his bursts of laughter
                              Ella with her silk and gold
                              it all sounds so easy
                              only if you're always there
                              Stephane has never stopped bowing
                              Morello mumbles to his drums
                              day and night, night and day
                                                 they are our ministers
and we often ignore them                         they are our lawmakers
                              they follow the sound of beauty
                              in their glow is the word
                                               the movement
                              the vision     if we can touch it
                                                   and hold  it
                                                   and feel  it
                               we can wrap ourselves in it
                               and only say hello
                                            never goodbye
only hello                                                  never goodbye 

              only hello     only hello     only hello