Photograph of Chet Baker
A face like penance
or perhaps just somebody looking down
at the keys of a piano.
Most things appear twice,
but not the piano hinge of course.
The face, the hair – justifiably so.
But the matinee idol looks
always alluded to something not quite him.
Something to escape from.
A trumpet player who sang,
a singer who played trumpet –
he had two sets of front teeth,
the first ruined in a fight
along with his embouchure.
The next, a denture, built to last.
The years in Europe,
A classic second act –
the trumpets on Shipbuilding
and Live at Ronnie Scott’s.
A new generation, another bite
(not at art, but at a career).
A film of his life that wasn’t his life.
In Amsterdam he fell out of a window.
The police report states
that the two substances found in his room
were also found in his body.
from 'Country Music' (Offord Road Books, 2020), © Will Burns 2020, used by permission of the author.