Dante Di Stefano

Brass Band Epithalamion

While the sousaphones, walking the bass-line,

groove on a riff, and the crescent moon casts

crumbs of light like a screwdriver on

a cymbal attached to a bass drum played

by a kid in a varsity jacket

and camouflage pants, while the three trombonists

hurl salvos at the crowd on the corner

of Chartres and Frenchman, while twin trumpets

punch pins into the umbrella of our

hand-in-hand understanding of the dark,

while teenage boys, sag and swagger, waggle,

cakewalk, strut and bump, to the snare drum’s roll,

I am content to contemplate streetlights

with you and to wave the white handkerchief

in time with the wedding march that breaks down

across boarded up storefronts and holds us

in a levee of melody more true

and insistent than your pulse, my heartbeat,

our hemoglobin adjudicating

evening. In the small hours that follow, you

will whistle “I’ll Fly Away” on the banks

of the Mississippi and I’ll outlook

the strain a busking violin puts on

my memories of imagined futures,

but for now we listen on the dancing verge

and nothing can curb the sound of this band

as it plays “I Ate Up the Apple Tree,”

welcoming us to the Mardi Gras of

an Eden we’ll be forever leaving.

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Dante Di Stefano earned his PhD in creative writing from SUNY at Binghamton. His poetry and essays have appeared recently in The Writer’s Chronicle, Shenandoah, Brilliant Corners, and elsewhere. He was the winner of the Thayer Fellowship in the Arts, the Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award, the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize, the Phyllis Smart-Young Prize in Poetry, the Bea González Prize in Poetry, and an Academy of American Poets College Prize.