HomeSouthern VoiceMilt Edward’s Orchestra

Milt Edward’s Orchestra

by Milton P. Ehrlich

A Saturday night in ‘48,
as instruments unpacked,
and monogrammed stands
were set up at the National Dance Hall.

The air was perfumed, a mix of honeysuckle
and the scent of pompadours
saturated with Vitalis.

Zoot-suiters from Greenpoint
jumped and jived to “Take the A Train,”
belting rum and coke between sets
trying to staunch the flow of sweat
in an era before A.C.

Wound-up marionettes jitterbugged
imagining they were auditioning
for an M.G.M. Donald O’Connor musical.

They recovered with a languorous fox-trot,
immersed in a radiant rendition
of “Harlem Nocturne,” as satiny smooth
as a sip of Glenfiddich straight up.

The star of the band, on an alto sax,
was a strutting seduction artist
with a Clark Gable moustache
and an Ipana-white smile.

He mesmerized the dancers,
tempting fox-trotters to stop and listen,
wide-eyed, at his pyrotechnic soloing.
The last song of the dance
was always “Good Night Ladies.”

As the final refrain faded, a jealous
group of burly brass-knuckled goombahs
from Sheepshead Bay, mounted the
stage, splattering fists and cymbals,
leaving blood spattered sheet music
and our talented sax player with
his mouth busted wide.

Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 87-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published many poems in periodicals such as the London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Taj Mahal Literary Journal, Antigonish Review, Ottowa Arts Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times.
On the Chestatee, la