A POEM FOR BIG RED by John Sinclair

Poet-author-scholar-human John Sinclair wrote “this little ode in memory of my pal Big Red, who passed away in Lansing MI around Christmas time”…

hold your horn high
for ron redman gulyas

early sunday afternoon
taking coffee at the dolphins
& the spring training reports
from the detroit news on-line,

all of a sudden
i’m at the batting cage
in royal oak 20 years ago
with big red,

a great big motherfucker in his late 20s
who weighed about 390
& played the tenor saxophone
with the sound of yore

like coleman hawkins
& ben webster were whispering
in his ear
while he fingered his horn,

big red
was a great big crazy motherfucker
who could tell you
the high school & college stats

for all the players
coming up on the tigers in the spring,
& he still played baseball himself,
semi-pro for a lansing team,

not the popular lansing lug-nuts
but some obscure outfit
that would pay him a few bucks
to suit up & power a couple of balls

out of the park,
& he claimed to be a gypsy
or either related to the little giant
of jazz, don redman

& he played
anything he wanted
on the tenor saxophone,
incomplete skills but

plenty of feeling, a
warm sound
that was always good to hear,

big red,
my man,
he backed me up so many times
& played in my band (even though

johnny evans couldn’t stand
the way he played
the other tenor sax),
a great big crazy motherfucker

who drank more beer
than anyone you seen, & his weight
would go up & down
from 390 to 210

& then back up again,
& in the early ’90s
he fled the united states
& roosted in budapest

for a few years
& had a ball playing his horn
calling himself “ron goulash”
like the hungarian stew

& why he ever came back
will never be known
but he passed in east lansing
just before christmas?

big red,
hold your horn high,
let us hear your raspy breath,
my brother, just one more time

–the dolphins,
march 19, 2006