Literature » Poetry

Jazz poetry by Steven Dalachinsky, Michael L. Newell, John Stupp, Ron Kolm, and Freddington

Don Cherry

 

 

A wealth of excellent poetry has been submitted recently.  Poems by Steven Dalachinsky, Michael L. Newell, John Stupp, Ron Kolm, and Freddington are examples…

 

 

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the blessing
(Don Cherry @ the Village Vanguard 1986)

by Steve Dalachinsky

it’s the last set
the club is almost empty
it seems to be that way a lot
these days
the reverend wright’s in the back room
by the top of the stairs
filling his nose with powder
along with all the other
visiting musicians
the trumpet prays a line
the tenor amens
the bass bows the melody
it’s an ornette tune
“the blessing”
before that it was a monk tune
the set is very short
i mean
very
very short
the last couple to enter
gets their cover returned

she is dark eyes
                &
                    stares into
                                 me.

 

 

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Poet/collagist STEVE DALACHINSKY was born in Brooklyn (1946) after the last big war and has managed to survive lots of little wars. His book The Final Nite (Ugly Duckling Presse) won the PEN Oakland National Book Award. His latest cds are The Fallout of Dreams with Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach (Roguart 2014) and ec(H)o-system with the French art-rock group, the Snobs (Bambalam 2015). He has received both the Kafka and Acker Awards and is a 2014 recipient of a Chevalier D’ le Ordre des Artes et Lettres. His poem “Particle Fever” was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize. His books include: Fools Gold (2014 feral press); a superintendent’s eyes (revised and expanded 2013/14 – unbearable/autonomedia); flying home, a collaboration with German visual artist Sig Bang Schmidt (Paris Lit Up Press 2015); The Invisible Ray (Overpass Press – 2016) with artwork by Shalom Neuman. Frozen Heatwave, a collaboration with Yuko Otomo (Luna Bissonte Prods 2017) and Black Magic (New Feral Press 2017). His column “outtakes” appears regularly in the Brooklyn Rail. His most recent release is With Shelter Gone, a full length 12inch lp on the German label Psych.KG. Forthcoming Where Night and Day Become One – the French Poems (a selection 1983-2017) (Great Weather for Media 2018)

For a complete biography, visit his Wikipedia page.

 

 

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jammin’ on the playground

by Michael L. Newell

grades one and two riff on themes
of unrestrained vocal chaos freeform jazz
with disdain for rules and guidelines
that might shape sound into transparent form

grades three and four swirl and twirl in patterns
of sound and movement that are pure
outpourings of passion and energy wild piano
rags that are deeply felt but barely understood

grades five and six rock rhythms rooted
in the self unleashed in wind sun and rain
hair flying feet floating voices freely shouting
a dixieland whirl of inventive expression

grades seven and eight bop through hallways down
stairwells out onto playgrounds where they are
the casual queens and kings of the school yard their rhythms
inimitable and their vocal swagger defining cool

 

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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 writes that this poem “is rooted in some international schools in which I worked where we had all grades together.”

 

 

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Jazz Guitar Chronicles 6

by John Stupp

 

How to get good at chess—
first lose a thousand games
that’s what GM Anatoly Karpov said
when someone asked
back in the ‘80’s
so
that means I’ll have to play
Crepuscle with Nellie and Pannonica
a thousand times
and feel Monk’s eyes on me like a stab wound
in my good ear
ok but what other songs could I play
what other job could I work
a butcher maybe—
and spend all day inside with a knife cutting
ribs
legs
loins
hams
shoulders
then go to a night job
like grainy people did back then
no thanks
I want to imagine myself
eyes closed
holding a guitar
the ride cymbal ticking over
the horns working the road ahead
the bass firing like a .22 at a mountain
of cigarettes
the drummer like fat falling off a bone

 

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John Stupp’s third poetry collection Pawleys Island was published in 2017 by Finishing Line Press. His manuscript Summer Job won the 2017 Cathy Smith Bowers Poetry Prize and will be published in 2018 by Main Street Rag. He lives near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  From 1975-1985 he worked professionally as a mediocre jazz guitarist.

 

 

 

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Bird and Me
By Ron Kolm

I read somewhere
That Charlie Parker
Ate a rose.

I think it happened
After a long flight
To Denmark or France.

A delegation of
Important dignitaries
Approached him
On the runway
And offered him
A fancy bouquet
As a gift.

I figure he must
Have been both tired
And pumped up a little
After such a long flight
So popping the flower
Into his mouth
Probably seemed
Like the perfect
Thing to do;
A way to fuck
With the squares
And further embellish his legend
At the same time.

Years later
In a far different
Corner of the world,
I ate a flower, too.

I was drinking
In Rozinante, a
Neighborhood bar
In Soho, trying
To win back the love
Of my ex-wife.

As we chatted
I got so nervous
I downed
At least six white Russians.

In that state
I told her, “I’m gonna do
What Bird did to show you
How much I still care.”
Then I plucked a flower
Out of the vase
That was on the table
Between us
And stuffed it
Into my mouth.

It was chewy at first,
Then a sharp chemical taste
Kicked in.
(I found out later
They spray those things
To make them last.)
Shaking, I sprinted
To the bathroom
And became violently sick.
I can’t remember
Ever feeling worse–
I really thought
That something had broken
Inside me.

My ex-wife leaned in the door
To ask if I was ok,
And when I grunted yeah,
She said she had to split —
She’d had a lovely evening
But had to work tomorrow.

 

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Ron Kolm is a founding member of the Unbearables and has helped edit their six anthologies. He is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin magazine. Ron is the author of The Plastic Factory, Divine Comedy, Suburban Ambush, Duke & Jill, Night Shift and, with Jim Feast, the novel Neo Phobe. A new collection of his poetry, A Change in the Weather, has just been published by Sensitive Skin books. He’s had work in Flapperhouse, Great Weather for Media, the Resist Much / Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance anthology, Maintenant, Local Knowledge and the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Ron’s papers were purchased by the New York University library, where they’ve been catalogued in the Fales Collection.

 

 

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A Renewal of Sorts

by Freddington

A rough-edged tenor sax,
Grinds a raspish tone,
Directly into the music,
By sheer force,
The heat and friction build up,
Until the proceedings ignite,
Unleashing a spray of incendiary bursts,
A lightning swarm of jagged,
Split-second fireworks,
Proclaiming a challenge,
To the entire world of Jazz,
A gauntlet thrown down,
On a bed of smoking embers,
As the session gets out of control,
Sonny strides with confidence,
Through the flames,
The collapsing heat storm
that surrounds him,
On the last chorus,
He takes a deep breath,
Leans in hard,
And with a final gust,
Literally, blows the house down.
The engineer announces over the P.A.,
“That’s the one”.
The studio in ruin,
Sonny takes a break,
While the musicians dig through the rubble,
and brace themselves for the next tune.

For Sonny Rollins

 

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Freddington works as a shipper/receiver in Toronto, Canada, and has been a lifelong jazz fan ever since he was “corrupted” as a teenager by Charles Mingus’ “Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.”