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Cornelius Eady is the author of five books of poetry, most recently THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A JUKEBOX, published in 1996 by Carnegie Mellon University Press. His previous collections include YOU DON'T MISS YOUR WATER (1995); THE GATHERING OF MY NAME (1991), which was nominated for the 1992 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry; VICTIMS OF THE LATEST DANCE CRAZE (1986), which won the 1985 Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets; and KARTUNES (1980). His many honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writer's Award, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award. Cornelius Eady is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Poetry Center at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.
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- by Cornelius Eady



Hereís the thing about luck: the piano is tuned,

The glue and the wood of the guitar cured to wail,


The room, which until a few hours before

Was run-of-the mill hotel, has the right amount


Of funk on the walls, and some sort of science

Is in effect with the thick plaster and drapes.

Letís not forget where this is taking place:

Downtown Chicago, 1930ís; the air in the room

Charged with transients, nickel stogies, and cheap whiskey.

Itís there, itís free, and Leroy Carr tells Scrapper Blackwell

It sure is good as they roll. Arenít we lucky the eveningís

Still young, and theyíre buzzed just enough,

The engineer who records the song has cradled

The mike just so at the sound hole and keys,

No traveling salesman headed for Gary or

South Bend pounds shut up canít a guy get

Any fucking sleep from his side of the wall.

In the morning, this chain reaction will be packed and gone,

The way this air coated the tape,

The cable and cords that didnít blow a fuse,

Whatever lie or hope got these two

Here in the first place, ready to play.

Leroyís nasty stride and moan, right in the pocket.

Scrapperís sly accents and punctuation.

Hereís the take where everything fit; it makes us

Lean a little bit closer to our speakers,

This killing joy.