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Two Poems For The Tap

By Richie Marrufo

When I was first learning how to play the saxophone, I had been completely fascinated with the spirit of Jazz. To me, it was an exciting new world of rhythm and creative energy waiting to be explored.

Over the years, I would continue to play the sax, but I would also start to move my pen. When I started to experiment with poetry, I couldn't help but let the rhythm in my head drive the force of my pen so that inked words would draw breath like notes from a horn. At open mic nights, I would read some clumsily jotted poetry alongside improvised rhythms on my beat up saxophone. It wasn't pretty - and quite frankly, pretty reckless. I still had much to learn about craft, but these were my days of creative liberation. Thus began my love affair with the confluence of jazz and writing - something that would lead me to jazz nights at The Tap. Some of the tightest musicians in the city would gather and - for a few hours - create beautiful music. It was the easiest place for me to sit down and write.

In 2014, I was the recipient of EPCC's Adjunct Faculty Achievement Award. Following a wonderful award ceremony, I decided to join a group of friends at The Tap for some drinks and nachos. Over the years, I had been lucky enough to befriend many of the musicians who played all around the city. As fate would have it, I was invited to join the band on stage and share my poetry. I can't say for sure if many performing poets have read their work aloud at The Tap, but being able to do so was a significant moment in my life because I felt I was finally able to be part of the creative cultural tapestry - even if just for a moment - one of the many stories created in  Downtown El Paso, TX.


Give me,

Be -

Bop Jazz,

Nachos from the Tap,

and something to write with.

That's all I'll need

to make it

through the night -

until the next paycheck.

Until then, I'll write

and I'll write

and I'll write

and I'll hooooooooooowl

As the Band

summons the ghost of Charlie Parker

So we can learn how to fly

without wings

          and get hooked

          on speed.

          We don't need

the high life, but

this life.

It's the only one we've ever known.

Drinks with friends. Jukebox Love Songs.

Dancing the night away.

Last Call. Moments Shared.

For Life,


and the pursuit of



Windblown World: A Xuco Love Song

Incoherent mumblings

are the

inept incantations


from the abyss of this pen’s

empty kiss. 

I’ve had many poems  eaten by the  clumsy dance of a backspace button.




work progress.

(isn't that all we ever are?)



I want to make music.

I want that dark,


tone that legends like

Lester Young, Ben Webster

and Art Lewis

painted their masterpieces in

when there was nothing left

to yearn for -

to culminate -

from meditate -




sonic thumbprints


in the the

lusty allure of dark corridors and




5:07 a.m. 

The cosmos are crunched.

and Buddha folds over the alarm clock.

Stacks of


nonsensical rumblings 


on frothy





familiar after-kiss. 

Perhaps this

sensitive heart 

is penance 

from a past life?

(for) Even a tangential universe

Such as this

Can explode a kiss

Into atomic whiplash.


is your love song.

-- so when life is bringing you down,

Don't forget that



I sling





into a Xuco skyline.

sonic smoke signals

that swirl.

and twirl

into the air to become

-- to become

misguided mockingbird melodies

in search of its muze(sic).

You move.




“Cuando yo te vi,

mi corazón bailó!”

There are 10,000 heartbeats in a day,

But the ones that sound like jazz

are for you.  

#downtowning #downtowningep

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