Hayden Carruth

At His Last Gig

In Memoriam
Hayden Carruth (1921–2008)

At his last gig in horrid Amsterdam—
City to which Camus consigned the fallen—
Ben Webster, Uncle Ben, then on the lam
From Denmark, escaping as always, swollen
And rheumy-eyed, spoke in a somewhat sullen
And more than somewhat smashed voice to the jam
Out front. It was his first speech, and a melancholy
occasion. “You’re growing and—” ham
That he was “—I’m going,” he said. No scam,
However commonplace, wherever stolen;
He said it and he died, and no flim-flam.
But it was obnoxious. He was a felon,
      A brute, a drunk, a sob-sister. Yet song
      Was his in paradox his whole life long.