Poetry by Ronald Charles Epstein

June 9th, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Criminal Subjects

Stephen Harper,
Canada’s Prime Minister,
advises his people
not to commit
acts of sociology.

Harper Stevens,
Canadian waiter,
brings his calculator
everywhere he goes,
knowing that arithmetic’s
the greatest crime of all.

 

 

Walter (not Cronkite)

Walter (not Cronkite)
works at his desk,
waits for incoming news.

Connie (not Chung)
reports by smartphone
that there is gridlock
in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Dan (not Rather),
reports by cellphone
that New York’s heat rises,
now just over 95.

 

 

 

The Postmodern Cattle

The postmodern cattle,
in the stockyards district,
peer through the transport’s slats.

Most abattoirs are gone,
replaced by big box stores.

They gape and wonder
if they’re shipped to market
or merely going shopping.

 

 

 

 

The New Economic Dislocation

From the ruins of Ohio
to the boom of Texas,
young Buckeyes relocate,
walk the streets of Laredo.

 

 

 

 

Disparity in River City

THE MUSIC MAN (1962):

Robert Preston,
the picture’s star,
extols “76 Trombones”,
spots “Trouble in River City”,
earning immortality in the process.

Co-star Buddy Hackett,
sings his number,
repeating “Shipoopi”,
losing his audience.

The Sound of Status

The sound of status
is the all-but-silence
coming from the Prius.

Sweeping past the Exxon,
only subtle implication
makes the telling point
aimed at angry drivers,
struck by gas-pump shock.

 

For John Cusack

In the Eighties,
Hollywood gave
its younger men
several choices:

Young doctors,
young lawyers,
smarmy guy in a suit.

In the Forties:

Young soldiers,
young cowboys,
goofy teen in a jalopy.

That’s showbiz!

Non-Prescription

Little Jeremy Duncan,
Shoppers Drug Mart trainee,
lists the Heinz Baked Beans
as “non-prescription flatulent”.

Poetry Appreciation

Sensitive men watch SYLVIA,
develop an appreciation
for Sylvia Plath’s verse.

Insensitive men watch SYLVIA,
develop an appreciation
for Gwyneth Paltrow’s butt.

Pets for Lions for Dinner

No pets in the safari park,
your shepherd dog is not that tough.
Believe the owners when they say
their pride of lions eat enough.

Emily Dickinson in the Twenty-First Century

Emily Dickinson,
American poet,
literary icon.
Role model?
Probably not.

For the straight men,
way beneath their dignity.
For the women,
very retrogressive.
Even the drag queens
don’t dress up as her.

Congressional Succession

Another Congress-
Speaker Boehner
follows Speaker Pelosi.

A Botox joke,
followed by a crying jag.

 

 

“…Only Following Orders!”

“I was only following orders!”,
cried the Nazi titans
facing Allied justice,
each passing the buck
to a deceased Hitler.

 

 

Why the Bear Came to Town

The straying bear was not, I guess,
a victim of the sub-prime mess.
We all know that no one dares
to foreclose on a bankrupt bear

 

A Great Country or What?

I have never seen
Survivor, The Amazing Race,
nor Keeping Up With the Kardashians.

I saw – on YouTube –
Mr. Peepers, Our Miss Brooks,
even Playhouse 90.

Clever current technology
provides an alternative to
crappy contemporary culture.

 

 

 

Booze and Breakfast Beverages

Drink liquor-spiked
hot chocolate at Holt’s,
you’re au courant,
a bon vivant.

Dump Old Grand-Dad
in your morning Nestle’s Quik,
you’re just a boozer,
a drunken loser.

 

 

 

A School of Thought

 

In Hollywood,
there still exists
a school of thought
which asserts that
“All publicity
is good publicity.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger
and John Travolta
have both dropped out,
a long time ago.

 

 

 

Bill Clinton in the 21st Century

Thank you, Bill Clinton,
for building a bridge
to the 21st century.

Now we are all stuck
and none of us
will get out alive.

 

 

 

Career Trajectories

Gardner McKay
was on his way.
That cute brunette?
Not famous yet.

Gardner McKay
had lost the way.
That cute brunette?
Suzanne Pleshette.

 

 

 

Divine Directions

South of Heaven,
east of Eden.

Those who explore
the divine cosmos
ask theologians
for the directions.

 

 

The Snide Carnivore Replies

“Why love one and eat the other?”
– Toronto Vegetarian Association subway ad

Why love the one
and eat the other?
You have to ask?
Oh really, brother?”

Just get a clue,
you uptight yuppie!
The pig tastes better
than the puppy.

 

 

 

No Solicitation

“No Solicitation”
If the sign
on the locked gate
does not convey the message,
the loose handrail
on the wooden staircase
should do the trick.

 

 

 

Macho Men in Make-Up

Steven Seagal,
’90s action hero
and Chris Noth,
’90s TV cop,
advertise men’s make-up
in slick downtown ads.

Laugh, if you must —
but only behind their backs.
Remember, that even so covered,
they can still kick your ass.

 

Share this:

Comment on this article:

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

In This Issue

Painting of Clifford Brown by Warren Goodson
The 43 poets who contribute to the Summer Collection of jazz poetry communicate their heartfelt passion for the artistry and inspiration found in jazz music, and help readers, in the words of Art Blakey, “wash away the dust of everyday life” – a special gift to share during this restless summer of discontent…and hope.

Interview

photo courtesy John Bolger Collection
Philip Clark, author of Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time, discusses the enigmatic and extraordinary pianist, composer, and band leader, whose most notable achievements came during a time of major societal and cultural change, and often in the face of critics who at times found his music too technical and bombastic.

Publisher’s Notes

Grant Park, Portland, Sep 16, 2020
On a challenging summer in Portland, the passing of Stanley Crouch, and upcoming opportunities for writers

Great Encounters

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“Great Encounters” are book excerpts that chronicle famous encounters among twentieth-century cultural icons. In this edition, Will Friedwald, author of Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole, writes about the 1940 Lionel Hampton/King Cole Trio RCA Victor recording sessions.

Interview

photo of James Baldwin by Allan Warren
In our interview with Nicholas Buccola, author of The Fire is Upon Us: James Baldwin, William F. Buckley Jr., and the Debate over Race in America, the author tells the story of the historic 1965 Cambridge Union debate between Baldwin, the leading literary voice of the civil rights movement, and Buckley, a staunch opponent of the movement and founder in 1955 of the leading conservative publication, National Review. The evening’s debate topic? “The American dream is at the expense of the American Negro.”

Poetry

Mood Indigo by Matthew Hinds
An invitation was extended recently for poets to submit work that reflects this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season. 14 poets contribute to the first volume of collected poetry.

Poetry

photo by Russell duPont
The second volume of poetry reflecting this time of COVID, Black Lives Matter, and a heated political season features the work of 23 poets

Short Fiction

photo FDR Presidential Library & Museum
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #54 — “A Failed Artist’s Paradise” by Nathaniel Neil Whelan

Features

Red Meditation by James Brewer
Creative artists and citizens of note respond to the question, "During this time of social distancing and isolation at home, what are examples of the music you are listening to, the books you are reading, and/or the television or films you are viewing?”

Interview

Ornette Coleman 1966/photo courtesy Mosaic Images
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Ornette Coleman: The Territory And The Adventure author Maria Golia discusses her compelling and rewarding book about the artist whose philosophy and the astounding, adventurous music he created served to continually challenge the skeptical status quo, and made him a guiding light of the artistic avant-garde throughout a career spanning seven decades.

Photography

photo by Veryl Oakland
In this edition of photographs and stories from Veryl Oakland’s book Jazz in Available Light, Dexter Gordon, Art Farmer and Johnny Griffin are featured

Poetry

Frits De Jong / CC0
“Nocturne in a Whirling Fan” — a poem by Joel Glickman

Humor

painting of Louis Armstrong by Vakseen
In Dig Wayne's "Iconolast," Louis Armstrong is responsible for saving the lives of every man, woman and child on the ball bearing line at the Radio Flyer wagon factory...

Poetry

photo by John Vachon/Library of Congress
“Climate Change” — Ten poems in sequence by John Stupp

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time – the author Philip Clark writes about the origins of the book, and his interest in shining a light on how Brubeck, “thoughtful and sensitive as he was, had been changed as a musician and as a man by the troubled times through which he lived and during which he produced such optimistic, life-enhancing art.”

Interview

NBC Radio-photo by Ray Lee Jackson / Public domain
In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, acclaimed biographer James Kaplan (Frank: The Voice and Sinatra: The Chairman) talks about his book, Irving Berlin: New York Genius, and Berlin's unparalleled musical career and business success, his intense sense of family and patriotism during a complex and evolving time, and the artist's permanent cultural significance.

Book Excerpt

In the introduction to Maria Golia’s Ornette Coleman: The Territory and the Adventure – excerpted here in its entirety – the author takes the reader through the four phases of the brilliant musician’s career her book focuses on.

Art

Art by Charles Ingham
"Charles Ingham's Jazz Narratives" connect time, place, and subject in a way that ultimately allows the viewer a unique way of experiencing jazz history. This edition's narratives are "Nat King Cole: The Shadow of the Word," "Slain in Cold Blood" and "Local 767: The Black Musicians’ Union"

Interview

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection
Richard Crawford’s Summertime: George Gershwin’s Life in Music is a rich, detailed and rewarding musical biography that describes Gershwin's work throughout every stage of his career. In a Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Crawford discusses his book and the man he has described as a “fresh voice of the Jazz Age” who “challenged Americans to rethink their assumptions about composition and performance, nationalism, cultural hierarchy, and the racial divide.”

Jazz History Quiz #140

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Although he had success as a bandleader in the 1930’s, he is best known for being manager of Harlem’s Minton’s Playhouse (where Thelonious Monk was the pianist) during the birth of bebop. Who was he?

Interview

photo unattributed/ Public domain
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.

Interview

photo by Fred Price
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...

Pressed for All Time

A&M Records/photo by Carol Friedman
In this edition, producer John Snyder recalls Sun Ra, and his 1990 Purple Night recording session

Interview

photo by Bouna Ndaiye
Interview with Gerald Horne, author of Jazz and Justice: Racism and the Political Economy of the Music

Poetry

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.

Spring Poetry Collection

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)

“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

In the Previous Issue

Interviews with three outstanding, acclaimed writers and scholars who discuss their books on Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter, and their subjects’ lives in and out of music. These interviews – which each include photos and several full-length songs – provide readers easy access to an entertaining and enlightening learning experience about these three giants of American popular music.

In an Earlier Issue

photo 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…

Coming Soon

photo of Erroll Garner by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
The historian and most eminent jazz writer of his generation Dan Morgenstern joins pianist Christian Sands -- the Creative Ambassador of the Erroll Garner Jazz Project -- in a conversation about Garner's historic legacy. Also…an autumn collection of poetry; Will Friedwald, author of Straighten Up and Fly Right: The Life and Music of Nat King Cole is interviewed about the legendary pianist and vocalist; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction, poetry, and lots more in the works...

Contributing writers

Site Archive