May 152011

by Kurt Shinian

*Residents and visitors to Church Street in the 1990s will undoubtedly remember Richard Haupt. Known mostly for playing raucous renditions of Dixieland staples such as “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the “Clarinet Man” was a Burlington institution.

Don’t mind me, Richard –

I’m just going to sit on this bench

And listen to you play “Dixieland”

For awhile; I’m just going to sit here

And watch the shopkeeper

Sweep the cobblestones clean,

And watch all the people walk past

Your reed-rustled cacophony,

Past the coffee shops,

Past the ceaseless hiss

Of a cappuccino being made,

Past the garden shop,

Past the mailman

Who has stopped

For a smoke and a tune.

I got a window seat today, Richard.

I’m looking through the

Drawn slats of half-opened blinds;

I’m looking through your eyes that

Lift every time a quarter drops

In your case.

You’re some kind of messenger, Richard –

A pigeon, a mountain-top yodeler,

A fog horn, a sure-footed peddler,

A slow floating arrow

Delivering a note –

And what you’re playing, Richard –

It’s very simple –

The purity of original goodness,

The purity of saints marching in.