Poetry by Erren Kelly

November 22nd, 2012




Take Five

last time i was

with dad

i was playing jazz cd’s

in my stepmother’s computer

he came into the room, his body

running on fumes

but smiling like a young man

as the piano notes

did a percussive dance

through the room

” you know, erren, for 70 years old

i look pretty good,” he told me

daddy was impressed that

i liked jazz

he told me he loved dave brubeck

later, i went into room

and he gave me a watch

the last present he ever gave me

if dad ever meets up with

dave brubeck in heaven

i hope he doesn’t bug him

to death by asking him to play

alot of jazz tunes

For Herbie Hancock

takes his hands and makes robots dance

makes the sky turn red like watermelon, man

or can make a man, into a watermelon man

hands tickle the keys and the watermelon man

picks up the slack and moves to a futuristic bop sound

herbie puts his hands to the keys

and planets begin

to dance

travelling miles to reach euphoria

and it leaves

you in a trance

back in the day

you made the piano

shuffle like the new york city


when a ride cost a


steaks cost two dollars

and a five spot

could get you into the

five spot downtown to see you

” i may live updown

but im always downtown…”


keith jarrett may be the

king of improvisation

but you invented fusion jazz

you made the albums

miles wanted to make

you was mixing jazz

with rock and electric sounds

when medeski martin and wood

was wetting their


they are not worthy enough to

hold your


you’re the only acid

i get high


you helped charles


fufill his

death wish

as he hunted for bad guys

even jaco pastorious rode your


and ya’ll made lovely

sounds together

on headhunters

i grew an afro, listeing to you

funkier than a sorority

girls draws

i was waiting for

huggy bear to

make a

cameo appearance

your hands touch the keyboards

and the electric sounds you made

gave birth

to a hologram of

an electronic goddess

who came into my life

one night

she was a bitch with

her own brew

she gave me eargasms

and i came with


your hands touch the keys

and the watermelon man picks up the slack

transporting him forward

to a futuristic bop


you didnt always sell out

but when you did

even your sell out music

sounded cool

stay hyped, my friends

like miles, you still held on

to your soul

hip hop and euro funk

like kraftwerk

found its way onto

your musical


your music was played at nfl games

and on soul train

the jazz purists screamed judas

but nobody should hate you for wanting

to get paid

can i loop

can you loop the


the fruits you bear

from your songs

your hands touch the keyboards

and a rockit lifts off

leaving me smiling for miles

cos you rocked it.

on river, you did the

santana thing

you got divas to


while you let your

piano talked

in the key of


i feel the aftershocks even in the


and it never feels wrong

you take a gershwin


and make it stand on

its head

see you grooving down

the river

feeling bliss from miles


can i loop

can you loop

the canteloupe?

this bliss i always taste in

your songs

i heard you speak like a child

never doin no



Erren Geraud Kelly/ December 7, 2015


what i’d say….

ray’s voice
is what a brotha
feels like after he’s had
a good piece of
i know now why mama didn’t want us
playing secular music in her home
and why white kids love
r and b so much
it was heroin
for your ears
ray was the only brotha
who could mix the church
country music, blues and the cathouse
and make it sound cool

he sings ” i got a woman”
like she’s the only salvation
he needs

once upon a time
you could feel music
not just hear it

ray is what happens
when you break the chains
around your heart
and set yourself free

march 2011


Play a melody that travels
The curves of your body until
Your body becomes an
Make it percussive
Like my heartbeat, like the
Drums, which is
What I feel when your fingers
Strike the piano keys
Make it brown and soulful
Like your body,
Round and bouncy like your
Ass, that moves to the
Beat of home
Make the melody hot
Like the ashes falling from
Fidel’s cigar
Your body is a party
When you sit behind the piano
You bring the party
When you press
the keys
the party never stops even
as it leaves you, it travels
miles and miles and miles

for marialy pacheco

Terrence’s Horn

Is the call the dry bones heard
And rose from the wreckage
Hurricane Katrina left behind
His blues is the blues of dreamers
Of days when shotgun houses ruled
And melodies led you like a pied piper into
A second line
His trumpet is gumbo to my ears
Calms one’s fears , about the water rising
Instead, fever rises when he plays the blues
Terrence’s melody comes naturally like
Women showing their tits for beads
His melodies planted the seeds for renewal
After the waters receded
Like the saints, red beans and rice
And king cake, it is always needed
When I go to heaven, I hope it’s Terrence’s horn
I hear welcoming me, instead of Gabriel’s…

For Terrence Blanchard

Billie Holiday

Sometimes, Mademoiselle will play
Billie Holiday 78’s on an old
Victrola, she got as a
Christmas present from her dad
Which belonged to his
Mademoiselle will listen to
Billie purr “My man,”
As her dog looks on, as if it’s
Lost in a dream, all night to
The moon
In the attic, Mademoiselle will
Dance with a mannequin
Pretending it was a lover
Which is strange, because she is
Too lovely to be alone
She pantomines with longing only
Billie knows

Mademoiselle washes away
Her heartache in a sea
Of bathtub gin and wonders
“Where can her lover man be?”


Even as I braced myself for it
It came without warning
But who adheres to
Love’s rules?
It’s like bargaining with the
Only this devil’s a redhead
And played piano as if
She could connect all the moments
Of the day and turn them into
Her music held me like a lover
Her melodies make the keys
Feel like a couple
I hear the fire in the music
And the knot burns away
I want to
Anchor my song with


Bird Read Beckett

bird read samuel beckett

he read novels and plays
he lived his life as one long
exstitential episode
he prided himself on being
bird loved his fried chicken
and preferred his gin
to go down smooth
like his solos

mr. eastwood,
take that lie back
and apologize!

if charlie parker was
it was only because america
made him that way
bird refused to live in
the boxes
people put him in

every time i listen to a
bird cd
i’m helping charlie parker
take back his genius
from the syringe

everyone knows a prophet
is rarely welcomed
in own land



doesn’t walk, she sashays
she glides
at carnival in rio de janeiro
wearing nothing but body paint
and glitter as she
her songs are more dressed up
than her
tig o bitties moving in time
to the samba beat
her body is as curvy
as a coca cola bottle

the bossa nova and brazilian women
are two good reasons alone
to move to brazil:

brazilian women’s bodies
are figure 8’s
they look like spring
smell like roses
and their voices are
always singing, even when
they’ re talking

they perfume the air
with their songs

during sex, their bodies
move with the rhthym
of the sea


Footprints ( for Wayne Shorter )

you speak no evil
when you talk about the miles
you traveled, the
way your sax sounded
like a thunderstorm
or spoke like a child
miles always had an ear for
talent, so, it was no surprise
he made lightning strike several
times, first, with trane, then cannonball
then later with dave liebman
but you made heavy weather
all by yourself
as you and jaco pastorious
led the jazz fusion revolution
you let trane’s shadow fall
over you
and became blessed with
the gift of the
even when flight 800 went down
and took your better half
away from you
you took grief,
dipped it in an inkwell
and played healing over several
the buddhists say “suffering
builds character”
you are winter,
every note you played, left behind
footprints of your journey
but still, you have miles to




Coffeehouse Poem #14

tall and tan and
the woman from brazil
walks in starbucks
in skintight jeans
wearing black and grey
i smile
because at that moment
i know god is



my mom’s watching the movie “notorious”
on b.e.t., a film about the life of
rapper notorious b.i.g.
the narrative is holding her attention
like catnip
i told her i’d listen
to rap again
when it had something
positive to say
now, i listen to jazz
like i used to listen to rap, i
listen to miles davis like
most guys
listen to b.i.g. or snoop
my mom is 73 years old
and even she’s heard of snoop dogg
i listen to a monk
like a baller
dissects a nas lyric
50’s and 60’s jazz
are my favorites
especially hard bop
lee morgan, horace silver and red garland
people treated monk
like they treated my brother roderick
or tupac
they called them crazy
when they were really
i sit with mama
and watch the rest of
the movie with her
every other line is bleeped out
even b.i.g’s profanity
is poetry

days after roderick’s death
i was cleaning out his closet
i found some novels one of them was
hemingway’s “the sun also rises”
and a dvd of the movie “juno”
i smiled
maybe under that thug facade
roderick was just a
closet nerd
and he didn’t want anyone to find out
three years have passed since he died
i can take comfort
in knowing
the streets didn’t kill my brother
just bad kidneys


Lady Saxophone

Tells her tale in blue notes
that slice through the apathy
Of the chemical town
She takes he pain and turns it
Into swing
She is a love supreme
A mother to all
But a child unto jazz


About Erren Kelly

I am a Pushcart nominated poet from Seattle, Washington. I have been writing for 25 years and have over 150 publications in print and online in such publications as Hiram Poetry Review, Mudfish, Poetry Magazine (online), Ceremony, Cactus Heart, Similar Peaks, Gloom Cupboard, Poetry Salzburg and other publications. My most recent publication was in The Rain Party and Disaster Society; I have also been published in anthologies such as ” Fertile Ground,” and Beyond The Frontier.”  My work can also been seen on Youtube under the “Gallery Cabaret” links.

“I am also the author of the chapbook, Disturbing The Peace, on Night Ballet Press and I’m currently working on another book.

“I recieved my B.A. in English-Creative Writing from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. I also love to read and I love to travel, having visited 45 states and Canada and Europe. The themes in my writings vary, but I have always had a soft spot for subjects and people who are not in the mainstream. But I never limit myself to anything, I always try to keep an open mind.”


Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

In this Issue

Art by Russell Dupont
Twenty-eight poets contribute 37 poems to the Jerry Jazz Musician Fall Poetry Collection, living proof that the energy and spirit of jazz is alive — and quite well.


photo by Francis Wolff/© Mosaic Images
Interview with Paul Lopes, author of Art Rebels: Race, Class and Gender in the Art of Miles Davis and Martin Scorsese

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music, author Gerald Horne writes about the severe cultural and economic obstacles jazz musicians have encountered since the music's inception

Short Fiction

Photo/CC0 Public Doman
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #52 — “Random Blonde,” by Zandra Renwick


Image by Matthias Gabriel from Pixabay
"Up in the Attic" -- a poem by Alan Yount

Jazz History Quiz #132

photo of Dizzy Gillespie by Brian McMillen
This legendary saxophonist has worked with Lionel Hampton, Johnny Hodges, Dizzy Gillespie (pictured), Art Blakey, and Art Farmer, and has become known as much for his compositions as the greatness of his horn playing, having written standards like “I Remember Clifford,” “Killer Joe,” and “Along Came Betty.” Who is he?


photo of Esbjorn Svensson Trio/Pkobel/Creative Commons
“The Trio That Should Have Reshaped Jazz” — an essay by Scott Archer Jones


photo of Jackie McLean by Veryl Oakland
Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of Mal Waldron, Jackie McLean and Joe Henderson

Great Encounters

photo of Sidney Bechet by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
In this edition of "Great Encounters," Con Chapman, author of Rabbit’s Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges, writes about Hodges’ early musical training, and the first meeting he had with Sidney Bechet, the influential and legendary reed player who Hodges called “tops in my book.”


photo by Michael Lionstar
In a wide-ranging interview, Nate Chinen, former New York Times jazz critic and currently the director of editorial content for WBGO (Jazz) Radio, talks about his book Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century,, described by Herbie Hancock as a “fascinating read” that shows Chinen’s “firm support of the music

“What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?”

"What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums?"
Dianne Reeves, Nate Chinen, Gary Giddins, Michael Cuscuna, Eliane Elias and Ashley Kahn are among the 12 writers, musicians, and music executives who list and write about their favorite Blue Note albums

Pressed for All Time

"Jazz Samba"/Verve Records
In this edition, excerpted from Michael Jarrett's Pressed For All Time, legendary producer Creed Taylor remembers the 1962 Stan Getz recording, Jazz Samba


Photographer Carol Friedman
In an entertaining conversation that also features a large volume of her famous photography, Carol Friedman discusses her lifelong work of distinction in the world of jazz photography


“Me, Thinking about Nona Faustine” — a photo-narrative by Charles Ingham


photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
"Every Soul is a Circus," by Dig Wayne

Short Fiction

photo/Creative Commons CC0.
Con Chapman, author of Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges, contributes a humorous short story, "Father Kniest: Jazz Priest"

In the Previous Issue

photo of Sullivan Fortner by Carol Friedman
“The Jazz Photography Issue” features an interview with today’s most eminent jazz portrait photographer Carol Friedman, news from Michael Cuscuna about newly released Francis Wolff photos, as well as archived interviews with William Gottlieb, Herman Leonard, Lee Tanner, a piece on Milt Hinton, a new edition of photos from Veryl Oakland, and much more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive