Poetry by Roger Singer

May 26th, 2013




Castanet’s rattle
Boisterous and raw
Like snake tails
Stuffed in a bag,
Snapping at the
Thickness of air.

Pink ruffled
Pleated sleeves
Filled with spirits
Speak in rhythms
To lusting eyes
Pressed to sin.

Like pistols
Exchanging sounds,
The band bursts
With Latin flavor
Fattening the air,
Swelling large.

Seasoned sweat
Forms a mist
From excited
Clapping hands,
As souls melt
Into Latin jazz.




Open windows
Release like smiles
Soft cotton notes
Greased into smooth
From the proud
Pressed to please
From the stage.

The sound wraps
Musical arms
Around ears
Of curious souls,
Spreading webs
Of long lines
Surrounding their
Appetite to listen.

People pause
With marked repose
As trialing sounds
Cause them deeply
To reflect on
Gentler days
Of summers gone
And love lost.

Without invitation
The hard sound
Of the horn
Lays siege
Like armies
Marching forward
With jazz as
Its banner.




The trombone man
Has brass movements
With sliding tubes
And fingers gliding
As if pointing
At falling stars
Dripping from the sky.

A flat black shoe
With leather soul
Slaps a beat
Reminding the notes
Slipping like grease
From the horn
To prove their worth.

A pork pie hat
Crowns the wisdom
Of vapory lips
Dipped in gold
Then baptized
With the wings
Of Mercury.

Behind the glare
Of deep black
Smooth silk frames
A minister of song
Preaches the jazz
One cool verse
At a time.


Smooth sweet wood,
Mellow messages,
Warmly delivered,
Like summer storms,
Rich with flavor,
Notes of chocolate,
Candy for ears,
Rolling sweetness,
Through the head,
Into the fingers,
And tapping toes,
Like running winds,
Pulsing and pleasing,
With rain drops,
Falling with purpose,
Spotting a shirt,
Or a dark hat,
Then dripping coolly,
Onto hands,
Intent on reaching,
For the door,
Where jazz,
Encourages the soul,
Gesturing with sounds,
To the smoky room,
Where on stage,
A man in a chair,
Plays a guitar.




A hard wind
Jumped eagerly
From the stage,
Creeping into pockets
And knocking on hats,
Forming a sweat
Then slapping the wall.

Like heavy
Fast running water,
A high tide of notes
Crests thick
As a wave of jazz
Soaks ears
And wide eyes souls.

Dancing dresses swirl
As long legs
Wrap like snakes
Onto dark pants,
While suspenders
Sharply snap
And ties speak jive.

Shoulders spin
Like a noisy
Draining kitchen sink,
Fast and around,
Like crazy cats
Chasing their tails
Never sitting still.



Music yields
To throaty winds
And gusty scats
Of Hattie West
Where sun’s
Never set on jazz.

Ivory firm teeth,
Ruby fired lips,
A white sequined dress,
Black high heels,
A bra strap hangs
To elbows side.

Chocolate velvet neck,
Baubles and jewels,
Full stormy curls
Rolled like waves
With sea weed eyes
To capture weak souls.

Satin covered
Drips of sweat
Run with fear
Escaping like thieves;
Heels flee into dark
Where shadows rattle.

The band fills
Smoke draped rooms
With sounds of weight,
Pressing with strength
From Hattie West
Into the night.

Share this:

2 comments on “Poetry by Roger Singer”

  1. Roger has a feel for Jazz–the sound, the music, tempo and jargon. Each of his poems grind out the message in resounding tones. If he is not a Jazz aficionado (which I suspect he is), he has a knack for extracting the marrow from the music he hears!

Comment on this article:

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

In this Issue

The winter collection of poetry offers readers a look at the culture of jazz music through the imaginative writings of its 32 contributors. Within these 41 poems, writers express their deep connection to the music – and those who play it – in their own inventive and often philosophical language that communicates much, but especially love, sentiment, struggle, loss, and joy.


photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Con Chapman, author of Rabbit's Blues: The Life and Music of Johnny Hodges discusses the great Ellington saxophonist

Book Excerpt

This story, excerpted from Irving Berlin: New York Genius by James Kaplan, describes how Berlin came to write his first major hit song, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” and speaks to its historic musical and cultural significance.


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


photo of Archie Shepp by Veryl Oakland
"Archie Shepp's Jazz Song," by Susana Case


Art by Charles Ingham
“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — Vol. 1 -- a unique view of jazz history

Jazz History Quiz #133

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
This musician first recorded with Ben Pollack’s band in 1936, and then joined Benny Goodman (pictured) in 1937. He eventually started his own band, in which Frank Sinatra sang for a short time in 1939. In 1941 he recorded “You Made Me Love You (I Didn’t Want to Do It”), which made him a star — second only to Glenn Miller in popularity in 1942. Who is he?


News about the poet Arlene Corwin


photo of Stephane Grappelli by Veryl Oakland
Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light” — photos (and stories) of violinists Joe Venuti, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty, Zbigniew Seifert, and Leroy Jenkins

Short Fiction

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

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.”

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


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

In this edition, producer Helen Keane tells Michael Jarrett, author of Pressed For All Time: Producing the Great Jazz Albums about how the collaboration of Tony Bennett and Bill Evans began, culminating in the 1975 recording, The Tony Bennett/Bill Evans Album.


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


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