One pistol shot
changed his life,
but not how you think.
Only 11,
gun from Mama’s lover
stuck in his shirt,
celebrating New Years Eve
shooting into the air,
a poor man’s pleasure
long before civic fireworks.
Showing off
for the other kids,
your shot, of all the gleeful noise
down the streets,
your shot was seen by the cop
who knew you as trouble.
to begin a New Year in jail,
taken away from mother
and delivered
to the colored waif’s home.
The cop
and the judge surely thought
that would teach you a lesson.
they were right,
but not how they thought.
Thrown in with the lost,
the forgotten, and just plain bad boys,
remembered singing for coins
on the streets with his friends.
A cornet from his teacher –
who figured it would change him,
but not how he thought,
and certainly not what
New Orleans
and the world
were expecting.

[another poem based on historical events]

Louis Armstrong;s first cornet




Blaise Kielar received Honorable Mention in the 2022 Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize for an excerpt from his memoir in progress, "Be Heard: The Quiet Kid Who Started the World’s Loudest Violin Shop." He opened Chapel Hill’s first violin shop in 1978 and retired from a music retail career by transitioning Electric Violin Shop into the first worker-owned co-op music store in the United States. He plays jazz violin and clarinet in several bands and leads the Bulltown Strutters, Durham’s community New Orleans brass band.