Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Gramps Stayed Drunk on Jazz”

Christian Anton Gerard’s first book of poems is Wilmot Here, Collect For Stella. He’s received Pushcart Prize nominations, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference scholarships, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and the 2013 Iron Horse Literary Review’s Discovered Voices Award. Gerard’s work has appeared in storySouth, Post Road, Thrush, Orion, B-O-D-Y, and The Rumpus, among others. He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and lives in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he’s an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.

Gramps Stayed Drunk on Jazz

Wilmot told her, Paul Whiteman mostly.
Radio went further than his dollar.

Gramps was built from gristle and
both Beiderbeckes were a big deal—

Paul Whiteman’s cornetist and
the dog named after him.

Two ten-pointers would’ve seen’em
through the Fifty-Three winter when

the labrador was four, Pop seventeen,
their hike-in, long as the day. The night

threw four feet on their campsite.
If cold is the marrow of all knowing,

Pop and Gramps were equal to their god.
Colder than Hitler’s heart. The wind,

a screaming infant. Indiana’s woods are
soul-less without a moon. Pop still swears

the enemy’s most evil in night and cold
shoots for the mind. Gramps reached

for his ripple. Pop slid a knife through
Bix’s throat, then belly, put his old man’s

hands and feet in the gut, his body like a heart,
death’s blanket a weird, warm thing.