At the piano
his two hands pump fingers
wide in unison
one hand does one thing
the other another
his eyes fixed on the sheet
music sheathed in
At the piano
“Repeat after me: I will not hunt alligators while Désirée runs deliveries.”
Léon blinks at me, rich hickory eyes peering up from a face darker than any glancing touch of the sun could produce. He wriggles in a barely-perceptible fashion, bare heels grinding ringlets into the muddy deck, a creature of obstinacy and faux innocence whose smile mystically exiles all suspicion from my mind.
“’course, Dezzy,” he says. “There aren’t any alligators around right now, you know—they ain’t come out ‘til nighttime.”
“They don’t come out ‘til nighttime,” I correct him, swiping a hand over the top of his
Theirs’ was a kind of mediation between then and now
No, it was a meditation on their only freedom: the deliverance of their music
No, no: a melding. One musician calling out: another answering.
Or maybe, a metaphor for the chorus of life
The way Lady-Day lamented the brief glory of
In a little town in Illinois, in a bar near the Wisconsin border, one man blew honey-dripping sounds from his saxophone. A woman’s body swayed in time with the sweetness emitting from that horn. She kept time with the beat and moved like melodic notes going up and down the scale. I imagined blowing musical sounds into her ear.
I crossed the wooden dance floor where she whirled, grabbed her hand and began to spin. Like musical notes, one black, one white, we danced all night. I softly sang into her ear, “Imagine how we’d dance in bed.”
She laughed in a low contralto voice, and changed it to a soprano when the high notes flowed.
Later when we were in bed and music played on her expensive speakers we continued our
Excursions in free-fixed melodic,
A quirk-offering; dust of suitcase-bearing dreams
Plucking away sobriety in taps of steps
Blending day chords with night rhythms
An immediate perfume, instinctively
In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I recently invited many of our contributing poets to submit work that combines the themes of jazz music and love, with the result being a collection of voices expressing their own contributions to the language of love…
Dozens of writers submitted over 100 poems, and the best of the submissions — 29 poems by 18 poets — are found on the following 12 pages. Advance through the selections by utilizing the page monitor at the bottom of each page.
Many thanks to everyone who submitted their work.
It had been warm all day, the type of day where the heavy air presses into you and makes it hard to move. It didn’t help that her shift had been spent calling customers and listening to endless streams of why they couldn’t make their hydro payments. And they would yell, swear at her as if she had caused their loss of job, their alcoholism, their way of life. She absorbed it all, the words sinking through the membrane in her ear and resonating within the membrane of her mind long after the calls had stopped.
If there’d been a breeze, or a slight coolness to the air, then those words could have lifted from her. They heated her, churning and boiling within so that by the time she got the apartment door open
the music’s so profound
so round & loud
& full of love
her word not mine
how stupid to argue over little
stupid to wrap ourselves around
I like the jazz because it plays in different colors: deep green and blue, translucent purple, ivory black; city storefronts, magenta sunsets; watercolor splashes here and there like a yellow crocus on snow or an orange goldfish tail — sudden, surprising, but always carefully placed.
Like the way people come in different colors — they just don’t know it. People walk along in darkness daily, ignorant of the color that’s surrounding them or the beat their music plays. That’s what I’m lying here thinking about, in my dark bedroom between the folds of cotton sheets. Africans, Asians, Seminoles they all come in different colors — not their skins, but their insides. Each person glows from deep within, from a well that springs out of