Jimmy Jazz ~~ Captain’s Blog 84

This is for my friend Jim Ricker. 1954-2015



Elegy for Jim 

by Jimmy Jazz

An elegist like an astronomer should know more of a moon or a man than its gibbous phase. -anonymous




A screaming came across the sky

on Broadway two hours after sunrise

as a black crow darted before the cityscape,

a small hawk in pursuit of his tail feathers…

reminding me, strangely, of conversations

in a teacher’s lounge

at a language school

in San Diego

with our friend Jim Ricker


Jim, Hippie Jim,

parsing the spoken words of his interlocutors

asking each to think & re-think

before speaking

the talons of his sharp logic clipping some who dared

use anecdotal evidence to support a claim


Hippie Jim, there was a fry cook in your heart

and a prescriptive grammar Snoot

A fry cook flipping hotcakes in a Sunday rush

at the big kitchen


Hippie Jim with your Master’s degree

where is your long hair now?

a fry cook who never minced words

& a usage cop with an etymologist’s nightstick

upside the head of the Green Grocer— Who

does he think he is with his ’10 Items or Less’ sign?


Hippie Jim, you old polemicist, you coot

never angry

but always ready and able to argue



Hippie Jim, with your long hair

were you a Marxist?

Can you explain for me one more time

Marx’s Labor Theory of Value?

You old union man, you Wobblie

you Uber-hater

We’ll kick hell out of any scab that crosses your picket line


Hippie Jim

Why were you shaking your fist

at the lack of common sense in the Ottoman Empire

over coffee with the muse?


Yer cantankerous-misanthropic-curmudgeon mask

didn’t fool the people you loved

A circus tent couldn’t mask a heart like that


Hippie Jim, will they bury you

in bolo tie & seersucker coat?


Will your hair be long in heaven?

Will you give Jesus a piece of your mind?

Will God pour you a beer & with a slap on the back say, Good Job Buddy?


Hippie Jim, you could be sober

a thousand years, or a thousand lonely nights

and all your courage & conviction

wouldn’t stop us finger-waggers from waving your final vices

like a red flag— Did

you really eat a 7-11 chili dog & chocolate milk

every fucking day?


Any man who can find joy in the grit in the bottom of a styrofoam cup of Folger’s,

can be happy in this world.


O, secret joy teacher!

ask your students to seize the day

tap your enthusiasm

in class & field trips

to places they have never been


Jim, Hippie Jim,

You Teacher

You Reader


Who will speak at length about the great writers of our time?

Who will follow Pynchon & Bill Vollmann,

who will read Edward Abbey’s FBI file,

and care about David Foster Wallace?


Who will throw his body on the gears of the capitalist machine?

And wonder in what desert Edward Abbey lies?



You teacher

You Reader

You Study-hard

You Knower (of so many things)

History dies with a man like you

History falls into the memory hole



You Knower

You Carer

You Talker


Your hawk soars above the tower,

the crow count his days.