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electric ladyland

nearing sanity and a return to society
I find myself sitting next
to Jimi Hendrix on the T,
all lit up like a Macy's Santa Claus
and playing the guitar he torched at Woodstock.
I can't make out what he's finger-picking at first
because it's so
but leaning closer I hear it's "Fire."
it sounds wrong, uninspired:
the incendiary soul isn't pouring through his fingers
like it did on the scratched 45s I stole from my mother.
I want to tell him so,
say, "hey Jimi! what are doing here?
did you forget that you died 14 years
I was born?"
but I'm afraid he'll stop playing
so instead I look up from the ghost guitar
and into his empty eyes.
"Jimi," I begin,
and the train goes dark
and I know
he's vanished.

when I get off the train
he's waiting,
leaning against the tiled wall in fatigues
and a red bandana.
I don't speak, just watch
him pick up his guitar again
as we smile at each other.
no one else hears the flaming riff,
walking heads-down fast to the escalator.
Jimi and I
share a laugh at the bewildered commuters
who speed their pace past
the skinny lonely white girl staring
at a blank subway wall.

3 December 2002