photo by Bob Willoughby
Big Jay McNeely
Los Angeles, 1953
His fingers move
with sounds of rain,
while clouds roll
within eyes of long years.
Sweat marks the work undone,
A river hammer beats
streams of jazz
into his veins
A breathing of fire absorbs the air;
energy builds from
sawdust floors and spilled gin.
The door of a past knocks at him,
wounded paths, minced oaths
and lost words
from cities on his breath.
Tired shoes have no goals,
their life is on the pavement
of previous feasts.
He sets fires of welcome,
knowing they will follow.
WHAT YOU GOT
“Why you smiling playing that jazz?” She asked with serious
eyes and lips parting the oceans of my thoughts.
“It’s the spirit shadow inside me.” I replied, smiling
into her deep pool eyes and hurricane hair.
“It pushes you into play? Making fingers find the notes?”
I leaned on the bass and slapped the strings. A groaning
echo released hard into the air between us.
I looked up and said. “I hear a sound like voices yelling
from a passing train.” She tilted her head back, laughing.
I slid the strings with my fingers, releasing notes. Her eyes
were full and curious. She hummed to my playing,
swaying her shoulders.
“I see the jazz.” She said. Her eyes now closed. “It’s
got hold of the music in me.”
I played on. The language of jazz was speaking.
Roger Singer is a prolific and accomplished contributing poet who we have proudly published for well over ten years. Singer has had almost 800 poems published in magazines, periodicals and online journals — 400 of which are jazz poems — and has recently self-published a Kindle edition of his book of jazz poetry called Poetic Jazz.
“Jazz poetry flows out with such ease,” Singer writes on his blog. “The people and places, the alleys and sawdust jazz clubs. The stories that bring jazz alive with horns and voices, from sadness and grief to highs at midnight and love gone wrong. The jazz is within us all. Find your poem and feel the music.”