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.