Stardust and Choices — Guest Writer, Daniel Bruce Nettleton   Leave a comment


The previous posting, “My Stardust Memories — Revisited” generated a “like” response from writer and artist, Daniel Bruce Nettleton. Daniel is today’s guest writer, posting his poem, “Stardust and Choices.” You are encouraged to visit Daniel’s site,  “Words and Spaces.” 
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STARDUST AND CHOICES

Always reminding me that we’re apart
High up in the sky the little stars climb
Steals across the meadows of my heart
And now the purple dusk of twilight time

In a land of martinis and cigarette ash-
a club called the Purple Crackle-
Bill had his own hook
(that coveted twenty minutes
of just piano and his trumpet
while the rest of the band was taking
a smoke break and hitting on young
girls) The old club owner used to make them
play what they unlovingly called “mickey music.”
This, because it all
sounded like the Mickey Mouse March.

But it was a chance to play and what twenty year old kid
wouldn’t jump at a chance to play?
They were so full of dreams and wide-eyed future.
They were so young.

You wander down the lane and far away
Leaving me a song that will not die
Love is now the stardust of yesterday
The music of the years gone by

Round about midnight
the manager of the club would get drunk
and stumble down the hall to lose his money
playing cards with people a lot better and a lot
more sober.

One of the waiters would come in and give a signal
and the real music would begin.
None of that mickey mouse crap.

Jazz.

The hip crowd would come in and things would get real.
Bill would play his trumpet
his adrenaline pumping
his head spinning wildly 
with big band dreams.
They’d play the greats:

Night Train
Blue Bossa
In the Mood

Stardust

Sometimes I wonder why I spend
The lonely night dreaming of a song
The melody haunts my reverie
And I am once again with you
When our love was new

Bill was night-dreaming.
These were the stars that hung above him:
life on the road
town to town
playing Jazz at the hottest clubs every night
being lost in a world of dancing and melody
feeling so unspeakably alive.
He was so young.

Miriam was daydreaming.
A white dress
white fences
and tiny white socks
these were the clouds that drifted above her.
She was so young too.

And each kiss an inspiration
But that was long ago
Now my consolation
Is in the stardust of a song

Bill’s big break came
when Vince Valentino and his big band
rolled into town.
One night after his show
he came down to the Purple Crackle
just in time to hear Bill’s hook.
It was just like the pictures.
“Kid,” he said,”I could use you in my band!”

Miriam was not so excited.
“It’s my dream!”
he told her as she cried.
He wrapped his arms
around her and she buried her face
in his shoulder on her parent’s
front porch. Around them was the
silent summer song of fireflies.
Was this the end?
They were both so young.

Beside a garden wall
When stars are bright
You are in my arms
The nightingale tells his fairy tale
of paradise where roses grew

The whole episode is neatly preserved in
a green leather scrapbook my grandmother
gave my grandfather for his 60th birthday.
Somewhere between his sepia colored baby photos
his years as a high school band director
and the cruel documentation
of his disappearing hair
it’s a single page:

There’s a picture of my grandmother, my grandfather,
and a glossy headshot of the Italian crooner.
The large caption reads: “Vince or Miriam?”

“Which one did you choose?” someone asked.
We all laughed.

I looked down at the picture of the kid with the 
crew cut and the awkward smile and 
silently thanked him.

Some nights, I looked up at the stars
and marvel that everything
our bodies
our very molecules
are made up of stardust.

All the old matter in the universe is sucked up 
into the hearts of stars and then 
hot new elements are shot out across the cosmos 
bursting with vigor and vitality
and making all things born
so dazzling
so beautiful
so young.

We
too
are the product of a billion choices 
over which we have no control-
Glittering moments of decision 
that shimmer and then disappear 
into the darkness of time.

We are made up of stardust and choices-
And the rest is jazz.

Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain
My stardust melody
The memory of love’s refrain

(cue trumpet solo)




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