Rock ‘n’ roll’s a
Conked-out guitars, body-bagged.
Clearing the way to ten o’clock.
Howard Hughes wrenches on an old sloppy joe
Over the horns of a dilemma. A Nordic shirt
Worn unhitched at the neck.
In a colour-supplement Fedora
He streams to the back-scene of the penthouse,
The tiddly heights of Desert Inn,
Sinks his imperial without-substance frame
Through a yonks-superfluous armoured door,
Slipping nine landings
Down inwrought stairs.
(version 2 The Aides)
He had pneumonia, stagnant anaemia,
A haemoglobin count of four.
Physical air, phones calls in and out of the apartment.
A Lockheed Jet Star plane follows through,
Thirteen miles northwest, pilot and co. incurious,
Inky limousines set as decoys.
A transfer of leading questions
Signal along the unbroken string. Ninth floor.
The combination lock placed last
Behind the guard.
Hughes on a bier, a mane of ashes
Long-drawn-out, flowing, in tobacco leaf brown
A snap-brim Stetson.
Darkroom quoits around the eyes, blue-sky pyjamas.
A loss not perceptible to his own sentry
Or the nightwatchman, ground floor.
From the Howard Hughes Poems
Read Additional Poems by Christopher
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