Gifts and Messages. Which
the more important?
me listening feels
more like I’m playing that
swooping of sax waiting counterbal-
answer slowly fading
Gifts and Messages. Which
Tonight I’m spinning
the ugly, unhip
jazzmen of Beehive records,
sweating in their transition shades,
mustaches sincere and wide,
collared tapestry shirts,
hair erupting from ears and noses
and they’re killing—
bellicose ogre grunts
grooves we listen
At risen angles my furniture sits
each chair fills with blood
with a pulse that could strike, may cease.
Blue couch slants toward vibration
my black arms embracing, hold on
for the dark clots of bass hammering
initials into the
This was all her fault, Sarah thought, as she watched the Victory Lounge clear out. She should have known Branchville wasn’t ready for improv jazz. But the bass player, Tommy Williams, had been so supportive after the workshop with the graduate wind students. Sarah had gotten so interested in the group’s ideas about jazz and improvising that she had gone straight to the practice room after the workshop and found their website. Earbuds in both ears, she was improvising to one of the rhythmic bass tracks there when she happened to raise the bell of her clarinet on a long high note the way she’d seen the quartet’s wind players do, and there was Tommy knocking on the door.
He had been so just what a jazz bass player from Chicago should be, Sarah thought, with his dusky skin and his smoky voice, and his rakish fedora tipped over one eye. And at the same time he had been so genuinely
From red kite country, driving South,
Dai Grandpa, fresh from yesterday,
such yesterday. Only when the
June sun sank, had Dai – dudein’
up my shirt front, puttin’ on
the shirt studs – reached evening’s land
– and such a yester-e’en. (Dai caught
the breeze, his ship came home.)
He breakfasts now in wild kite
Henry Bell wished the actress on the TV interview show wouldn’t smile so much. Most show folk, he thought, were not memorable. They were things, as he had written in one of his songs, made on the cheap from neon and crepe. Sometimes he believed it too. Then he’d remind himself that human beings wrote all kinds of wonderful tunes, like “The Wind” — the number that had made his mind reel when he was very young and made him think he could write songs.
“The Wind” was eight, maybe nine, minutes of continuous jamming colored in with jazzy chords, an understated vocal and poetry. As a kid, listening to Dick Summer’s Subway show late at night on his transistor radio, stuck under the pillow to muzzle its volume, he thought he could trek into “The Wind” and the journey through its changes would be endless.
Now, nearly forty, he wasn’t a kid anymore, and jazz-inflected rock music wasn’t his thing. At some point too, he’d decided that Circus Maximus was a pretty dumb name for a
we all were
three fifteen year olds
along with one of our fathers.
the only white guys
in the club.
it was at dino’s club
in st.louis, in the fall of 1962
at the corner of
Oh, to see back into the beginning,
To 1944, and 52nd street,
To Minton’s Playhouse, and the Royal Roost,
To Monk and Bud’s first rehearsals,
To see the fever spread,
To see the disciples line up to sit in,
At first, I simply sit on the front steps of my building, letting the summer sun bake my knees while I’m planning my getaway, trying to decide which subway to take to get to Caroline’s place faster. I know nobody will miss me. Nobody will even notice. Not like the first time I ran away.
The first time I ran away – OK, maybe I didn’t exactly run away, as the only thing I did was leave my house in the morning to go down to New Utrecht Avenue to sit in a subway station. But I didn’t come back. I wasn’t going to. I sat there all day, until it got late and dark, and eventually even darker and so late that it was time for my mom to come home. And when she did and saw that I’m gone, she called the cops and they found me instantly. Picture a pink haired girl sitting on a bench in an all Hasidic neighborhood. Not a rocket science to spot my cotton candy stack of hair even in the middle of a dark subway station. So I was brought home that same night, safe and sound, and feeling like an