Poetry by William J. Reiter: “Jimi & a hundred & one blue airborne rangers”


I recently got an email from Bill Reiter of Iowa, a poet, Vietnam veteran, and National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient for playwriting. We haven’t been able to confirm whether we’re related, but all Reiters are welcome at the Block. He kindly shares this poem with our readers.

jimi & a hundred & one blue airborne rangers
(the summer of love 1967)

it was a hall
an old movie house really
in the city of saint francis
near the ocean called peace

a grace slick-like chick
was jumpin’ in blue white strobe lights
amorphous light shows pulsating walls
all just a prologue to hendrix

he came out at last
a ‘fro imitation of a black ragdoll
escaped from some absurd beckett cast
surely a tragedy or farce was about to unfold
in the silver screen-less seat-less theater
above a stoned blue clowning crowd

he struck left-handed
upside down strings
a bell-bottomed blue heron
with piercing dark eyes
heavy with one guitar wing

he looked down at us
as if into san francisco’s blue bay
from coit’s tower
as if to jump from another hughes burly bird

i pushed to the front to hear
his voice soft wings
on the wind cries mary
gliding around us
around the statue of saint francis
in the city of saint francis
near the ocean called peace
like a cable car hushing up telegraph hill

i wanted to know about over there
and he played alarums purple haze
murderous intent in hey joe
pain of rejection star spangled banner
with its true blue taps near the end

jimi left the stage that night
prophesying his own end
which came eventually street easy
a barbiturate permanent sleep

he was right-on however about over there
and as he knew coming back was worse

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