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Portland Jazz Festival 2013

The band warms up.
Do-Ra-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do
and backwards.
They start playing at two o'clock.

Canopy frames and tarps are popping up.
The beer garden is growing tables, booths, and fence.
The soul food trailer has a sign on it that says "CLOSED."

People are filling the lawn bowl that hangs from the stage.
The Saint Johns Bridge's green arches over shadow us.

I sit in the hot sun inside the bowl for a minute.
Dragonflies swoop, dart, and dance.
Hungry bees grab handfuls of pollen from the clover blossoms.

I move to the shade, only the prepared can sit in the sun.
They sit on blankets, in camp chairs, with umbrellas.
Chinese, cowboy, Australian, and floppy garden hats cover their heads.

Children turn cartwheels.
They roll down the steep grassy slope.
It's amazing that they don't get stung by the bees.

A high school jazz-band starts off the festival.
A blonde girl sets down her trombone,
and picks up her trumpet,
for the last note of the song.

I look up at the swathe of green bridge above me.
There is a woman watching and listening from hundreds of feet above.
I wave, but she doesn't see me.

"We're loosing our shade." I say to a man sitting near me.
He takes a long minute to decide whether to ignore me or not.

"Do you see all those dragonflies?" he says.
"I wonder why they're here?" he adds.
"They must like the music." I say.
He smiles.

The guitar has a solo that floats through Dorian scales.

I'm smelling barbeque.
The sign on the soul food cart says "OPEN."

A rich black voice sings "At Last."
My arm explodes in goosebumps.
My head sways from side to side.

A little girl dumps out a can of Pringles.
She dances on them.

A mother and father take turns teaching a baby to walk.

People keep streaming into the concert bowl.
Bikes lay in heaps and propped up.
Camp chairs cluster like weeds.
Blankets are converging like one giant patchwork.

The drummer has a solo.

A loud semi-truck passes on the bridge above us.

The sky above is flat and blue.

Little girls swing from a weeping willow.
The tree looks like the monster in bugs bunny cartoons.
It stands between two pillars that hold up the bridge,
like Sampson.

This set is over.
The blonde girl caries two cases away.
A stocky boy caries two music stands.

A mother bounces her baby to the rhythm of the new band.

I'm hungry so I wander over to the soul food cart.
One rib, and a roll, for four dollars.
"Do you need a fork?" the vendor asks.
"Yes." I say.

I carry my food back to my seat, but it's taken.
I sit down in a new place and eat.

A woman in front of me streams cigarette smoke.
She wears a bikini and swirls a hoola-hoop.

I drop my eyes and focus on the tangy red sauce and stringy meat.
Barbecue sauce drips on my jeans.
I lick it off my fingers.
I didn't need the fork.

I went to another booth and bought a Shasta for a dollar.

I sat down somewhere else, a quiet spot behind the beer garden.
I can't see the performers, but I hear the music just fine.
Little children run up to me and roll down the hill, squealing.

A beautiful young woman runs on the bridge,
above the treetops.
Two racing bikes glide by too.

I just caught a strong whiff of barbeque.

The jazz stopped for a moment.
Announcements pounded out of the speakers.

A woman in a white shirt drinks from a dewy Sprite.
She puts an empty wine bottle in a trash can.
She rearranges the other bottles in the tubs of ice.
She pours a serving of wine into a clear plastic cup and hands it to a woman.
Then she returns to her Sprite.

"Would you like to support the jazz festival?" says a girl with a coffee can.
"Yes." I say and drop a five dollar bill in.
"We want to keep it open and free, without fences around.
I can't give money so I give my time." she says and smiles with a mouth of blackened teeth.

An intermission with improv jamming causes the crowd to move around.

A couple sit near me.
They have a roll of French bread sticking out of one of their grocery bags.

It's been a long day in the sun for many of the children.

The train rolls by,
sounding it's own horn,
with it's own percussion.
The musicians cue off of it and start another song.

Spot, the RCA dog, pulls a woman on a leash.

Another empty wine bottle clanks into the trash can.

In the sea of women wearing sundresses,
one is also wearing a neck-brace.

The shadows are growing long and the sun is softening his touch.
Umbrellas and hats are disappearing.

A man takes the woman's place in the wine-stall.
He bounces up and down, on his toes, to the music.

There's a gentle roar of conversation from the crowd.
It sounds like a river.
The piano and drums talk to each other.

It's five o'clock and the headliners are starting.
A powerful black voice sings "Use Me Until You Use Me Up."

A boy with a small kite runs back and forth.
The kite won't fly.
It hits the lady with the neck-brace in the back.
She frowns.

A man pushes a curly haired girl up the hill,
in a stroller that looks like a gypsy wagon,
because it has so many bags and chairs strapped to it.

Smoke from barbecue fires fill the air with a romantic mist.

The music has changed to an acid jazz,
that slips through my ears,
unheard.

A policeman walks by,
and a small dog barks at him,
and he glares at the dog.

A sweet trumpet solo rings happily over the field,
and is echoed by a sad alto saxophone.

A toddler slips under the orange webbing,
into the beer-garden.

The piano tinkles in melodic ripples.

A heavy middle-aged couple wrestle with a difficult tent.

I smell pot.

A fast paced saxophonist is slinging wild notes all over the place.

The sun shines under the bridge,
and through the trees,
and leaves spots in the grass.
It's not hard to find shade now.

A little girl in a white dress has a huge barbecue stain down the front.
She goes up to the front, with her mom, to dance.
Then she comes back and rolls down the hill a few times.

Another train is going by.
The jazz couldn't drown the train sounds out,
but it overwhelms the song of the ice cream trucks that park near here.

The jazz is full and complex now.

The spires on the Saint Johns Bridge are gleaming in the evening light.

The evening light shines through a motley green umbrella,
on to the bright head of a red haired woman.
The last thing I notice is her wheel chair.

The evening sun makes a pink hoola-hoop glow,
as it glides through the crowd on the shoulder of a woman.

The little girl in the white dress in running around in circles,
with her arms wide like a bird.
She falls.

One little girl is log rolling another far from the hill.

Evening has come.
I've spent my whole day here,
I'm tired.
I've heard enough jazz.
I've seen enough people.

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