Literature » Poetry

“Illinois Jacquet” — a poem by Michael L. Newell






(in response to an invitation
musical and raucous from the fingers
of Wild Bill Davis tickling the keys
of his organ seeking a musical response
by someone and something of equal stature)

Illinois I say accepted the challenge and blew
some blue some very blue blue blue notes
that set listeners nodding heads
moving shoulders slowly to the pain
contained within each swinging phrase

feet shuffled bodies swung a slow dance
back and forth listeners acknowledging
Jacquet’s testimony etched in raw sustained
pain pain pain that drew moans
from the depths of all who heard

such beauty from the heart and mind
of Illinois doing musical forensics
on his soul until a long sustained rising note
drew Wild Bill Davis to unleash
his waiting organ into wailing conversation

with sax and drum in unfettered collaboration
which led to an ending that lifted listeners
to their feet in sustained shouts applause
and joy joy joy at what had just been heard
oh me oh my souls must fly on certain days





Michael L. Newell is a retired secondary school English/Theatre teacher who has lived one-third of his life abroad on five continents.  He is passionate about a wide range of music, jazz being a particular favorite.  He now lives on the south-central Oregon coast.

Michael wrote this poem in reaction to this 1973 film of Illinois Jacquet