Poetry by Michael Keshigian

April 1st, 2013

 

THE NATURE OF MUSIC

This morning as the snow fell
upon the wandering arms of a giant pine,
I couldn’t help but notice
its rhythm and intensity
and how it matched the dose of Desmond
that played on a disc,
how his soothing sound and affective dynamics
followed the white trail from the sky,
falling easily upon the grass,
on the blacktop, the slanted roofs,
and the curved angles of the lawn furniture
forgotten around the pool,
as if he sat here
to witness the scene with sax in hand,
then chose to describe it
with his embellishment
of Brubeck’s rhapsodic intro
to Strange Meadow Lark.
Of course, he could have been
describing the rain
or the leaves dancing in the wind
and for that matter
capture any emotion
with a pulse and melody
emanating from the vast white room
of his imagination.
Perhaps, if I were to sit here
in silence and focus a whisper
of a whistle
to the beat of my heart,
the snow might eventually
dance with me as well.

 

THE MUSIC CRISIS

The problem with music, he realized
as he gazed at the Tanglewood stars
flat on his back upon the dewy lawn,
the problem is that it encourages
the performance of more music,
more imitation on the stage,
more latent entertainers
in search of fame,
attempting to release an emotion
while they crooned for acknowledgement.
It will never end
unless the day finally arrives
when we have utilized
all the notes and sounds
in every possible chord and cluster combination
on every instrument and voice
musical or otherwise
and there is nothing left to do
but close our stave notebooks
and listen to our finite interpretations.
Music instills passion, exalts omnipotence
or fills us with desperation
and subjects us to the bleak corners of existence
but mostly it is a catalyst
to perform on any dimly lit stage
where we might allow
that little needle in the brain
to touch the plastic groove
as we fantasize.
At times, we might even crack
the musical vault
and help ourselves
to a handful of famous melodies,
a merry band of tune thieves
whistling jingles that belonged to Mozart and Bach,
fragments we played in the ensemble
through elementary school
when progress and satisfaction
were the goals.

 

TWO-STEP

I watched them gig
in the pit
playing funky jazz licks
in modal timbres
made me squirm.

I thought,
I’ll blow this place
when this babe be-bopped from behind
hands in my hair
said we can really groove.

Flattered
I danced through the night
till light
cut a ray
through her ceramic face

cracking beauty
into puzzle fragments.
Flaking
she started to sing
the blues.

 

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In this Issue

A Collection of Jazz Poetry – Spring, 2020 Edition There are many good and often powerful poems within this collection, one that has the potential for changing the shape of a reader’s universe during an impossibly trying time, particularly if the reader has a love of music. 33 poets from all over the globe contribute 47 poems. Expect to read of love, loss, memoir, worship, freedom, heartbreak and hope – all collected here, in the heart of this unsettling spring. (Featuring the art of Martel Chapman)

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Bob Hecht and Grover Sales host a previously unpublished 1985 interview with the late, great jazz saxophonist Lee Konitz, who talks about Miles, Kenton, Ornette, Tristano, and the art of improvisation...

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In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview with The Letters of Cole Porter co-author Dominic McHugh, he explains that “several of the big biographical tropes that we associate with Porter are either modified or contested by the letters,” and that “when you put together these letters, and add our quite extensive commentary between the letters, it creates a different picture of him.” Mr. McHugh discusses his book, and what the letters reveal about the life – in-and-out of music – of Cole Porter.

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The introduction to John Burnside's The Music of Time: Poetry in the Twentieth Century – excerpted here in its entirety with the gracious consent of Princeton University Press – is the author's fascinating observation concerning the idea of how poets respond to what the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam called “the noise of time,” weaving it into a kind of music.

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In an Earlier Issue

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“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…

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