“Elegy Humming Purple Rain & Blow The Man Down”

Spring 2014 – Vol. 3
by Adam Tavel
for my grandfather Paul

I.

1988

Your face dissolves into fog. My fevered flu

sweats day two & I strain to see the tube

beyond your shoulders where Prince 

zips his purple Honda through Minneapolis

after grinding out “Computer Blue.”

Ritz & Seagram’s fizz are the only food

you’ll allow. They don’t stay down. My crude

sick bay is a Lego bucket emptied. I wince

& heave, dissolving to fog.

You chuckle at your Rockport shoes

glistening sour pink with puke.

Grandfather, through delirium’s squint 

I watch Prince’s falsettoed slow-mo quinte

stun the trout-mouth crowd. Flat & cooed

your hum dissolves his hook to fog.

II.

2011

No cloud or curtain shields the noon-light

as we stoop to sock your feet & slide

them down the stiff-tongued Rockports

Unc has bought though you resort

to railings now. Laces tight,

we drift Charlotte Hall’s corridors bright

& reeking Clorox. The parakeet’s flight

inside its rec room cage transforms

your clouded speech to noon-light.

But like corsairs how goddamn mighty

we three feel, our slow cigars alight

on the No Smoking bench—a sordid sort

of scallywags who cough & snort

a two-note shanty righting

our final sail blazed with noon-light.