Joey’s liver wrecked from whiskey & brew,
$219 a week & he can’t swing all of it.
We talk jazz & the blues, best Chicago
Deep Dish & I know it won’t be long.

If our past has its own scale it’s bebop
harmonic minor with a chromatic switch
at the end. I cheer when Hendrix pours
lighter fluid on his Strat but not Joey. He’s far gone
on Dizzy, Thelonious & Duke. I conjure

the funeral he’ll never be given, envision
spinning Miles for him—Bitch’s Brew
& Green in Blue. Vinyl scratches linger
on the top of a slow tune. He jabbers

about scent & taste & I sit with him like kin.
His sister’s anger interrupts like aquifer
under bedrock. I get why she turned on him—
his wild blood scorched her—but I’m not as close.
Pick me up a Rueben, a few smokes? he asks.

End stage liver failure means a few bites
a day. Hallucinations gather at his bed & he’s back
on the sax. There’s a woman & he’s cashing in
at 2 am. I offer a bite of a loaded baked potato

as Joey praises the hot melt of the butter,
the crumbly white meat, rough golden-brown
of the skin. He calls it dirty, sweet, gritty.
Eyes close a final time & he drifts out of his body
while Miles’ gleaming trumpet blares.