(Authors Note: This story is written with a poem acting as the prologue to each chapter. If you find poetry tedious: fear not! You don't have to read them, they simply exist as excepts from the main character's poetry notebooks. The main story exists in the chapter following each poem.)

(Death By Tap Shoes & Cigarettes)
(Prologue I)(Jazz Killed Itself)

All hail Raphael! The most beautiful boy in Kansas.
This human archangel that speaks like Vonnegut:
composing himself in backwards-forwards time
as he skips to skip a trip
that narrowly misses our street Cupid of acid trips

— who takes the backstreet alley romance
of rucksack backpackers
and introduces them to gasoline lifters
who drive them down symbolic highways
that drive the only love song they ever had in them
out of them before it was written.

He writes "Welcome!" on empty white envelopes
as he peels away precocious packaging
to pass them out to fresh-faced strangers
dropping off or carting off thumb-slinger missionaries
like they're relics of the American West.

They're not Hitchhikers anymore;
that's an expired brand
that died out with the naivety of children
after the mass production of art and poetry
and that oh-so-unfailable jazz
of the Zoot Suit Nation extinction

— who grins at his own dematerialization
as he can only exist in combinations
of his notebooks and thrift store guitars
that have been molested by 200 and 7 cigarettes
to deal with his newfound context, after the fact
that the only way he can do what he wants
is to do it in front of an audience
that couldn't care less about what he does
so long as he does it for them.

Now don't get him started on this whole concept
of nonviolence, because he's too intolerant
to keep his you-missed-the-written-revolution–
so-tango-with-the-music-evolution fingers
from abusing defenseless guitar strings
of sprawling chords until they're bleeding
beneath ten drenched conductors

— who despise informed music directions
because they know that regulations
eventually stab themselves in their North.
Unless they're from the church,
who take all rights and no lefts
to attack their Easts and their Wests,
since that's the only holy way to do it to it.

Or all that Razz-Ma-Tazz
that had to kill itself with Jazz,
rather than properly
with 41 trillion Hail Mary's
and an emergency confession
at three a.m. Tuesday morning
when you know you shouldn't be drinking.
Or sleeping — at least not that kind of sleeping:

with the creaking
or the unnatural saltwater frown
from your lack of Atlantic cities and towns,
but you still go to town in his car
as he hands himself a fist full of stark white envelopes.

And from the back seat,
amidst the crackling leather of junk lot haute couture,
the smell of artificial forests clings to your lips
as he whispers the poetry
of that Dead Jazz Generation.

After all, he's the last of a generation
that never even made it to the creation of a confederation,
but still managed to beat itself to death
with soft-souled tap shoes and cigarettes.