Poetry by Ronald Charles Epstein

June 9th, 2013


Gary Hart’s Monkey Business


In 1972,
Gary Hart,
dynamic young organizer
of Senator George Mc Govern’s
presidential campaign,
had no time
for romantic distractions.

In 1987,
Senator Gary Hart,
Colorado Democrat,
presidential candidate,
husband of Lee and
Donna Rice’s lover,
had plenty of time
for Monkey Buisness




The Canadian Comedian

Ron James, Canadian comedian,
played Benny Blackfly
in Blackfly,
a sitcom set
in a British fort
on the northern frontier.

That program combined
the comic possibilities
of Canada: A People’s History
with the historical accuracy
of an F-Troop episode.




Blue Bloods 

Tom Selleck,
once Thomas Magnum
of Magnum, P.I.,
now Frank Reagan,
NYPD commissioner
on Blue Bloods.

Will he face
a criminal clan
called the Mondales
or a serial killer
named Jimmy Carter?




Hank, Dottie or CBS

a drama run, then cancelled, by CBS.
a small-town police chief named Hank
(played by Randy Quaid)
prefers his wife Dottie,
(played by Mare Winningham)
when she’s made up like Katie Couric,
formerly of NBC’s TODAY.

Who is humiliated?
Hank, Dottie? CBS?

The answer: CBS.
The Tiffany Network
had no morning stars
that some New England bozo
could develop a fixation on.




The Aging Action Star

In the 1970s,
the aging action star
let his hair grow
and switched to pot.

The gossips assumed
that he was chasing
his lost youth,
after his ex-wife
rediscovered hers
with the pool boy.




Spain, Then & Now

Wendell Richardson,
a tourist from Seattle,
brushed his teeth in Madrid,
complained to the pharmacist,
“Your stuff tastes like pigeon poop!”

That was in 1962,
the era of General Franco.
Today Spain is free,
and the toothpaste tastes better,
as does the pigeon poop.




The Port of Bremen

When the ships arrived in Bremen,
the tourists were greeted
by a portly porter.
The rats were lured
by The Pied Piper.




Unwanted at the Wedding

Jay Leno,
observing the Royal Wedding,
viewed Prince William’s outfit
as fit for Cap’n Crunch.

Sure, if Cap’n Crunch
was present in the abbey.

So unfair,
ask Gordon Brown
and Tony Blair.




The Moral Politician

The moral politician
and foe of prostitution
was nabbed by local vice cops
while naked in a bawdy house.

His given name is “John”.
Really, the comedy
just writes itself.




Remembering Liz Taylor (1932-2011)

In the 1980s,
Elizabeth Taylor
proclaimed her solidarity
with those who faced AIDS,
offering them her prestige,
earning relevance in return.



On Canadian Radio

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council
issues another guideline
for broadcast airplay.

Mark Knopfler,
of Dire Straits,
no longer sneers “faggot”,
even as self-referential social commentary
aimed at ’80s rockers like himself.

Fortunately, Carole Pope,
backed by Rough Trade
can still “…cream…” her jeans
for a “….blonde scheming bitch…”



The Liberal From Berkeley

The liberal from Berkeley
praises John McCain
to his cousin Ned
in Macon, Georgia.

He cagily identifies
with the Vietnam hero,
as the clever racist
clings to Bill Cosby.




Canine Harness

The Toronto Police
set up a safety booth
in Yorkdale Mall.

The canine mascot,
a mall black poodle,
was strapped in
a construction harness
designed for his protection
and ours.

In an accident,
an unsecured pet
becomes a missile
that you don’t want to see
and he don’t want to be.




The Cooper’s Hawk

A Cooper’s Hawk,
distant cousin to
the American Eagle,
takes up residence
in the Library of Congress,
failing to realize
that she was not welcome.

No one ever told her
that simple nepotism
was not for the birds.




Did You Know?

Did you know
that Rene Levesque,
the Quebec premier
who nearly severed
his home province
from Canada,
dubbed Hollywood movies
into Canadian French?

So that explains
why John Wayne,
playing Sgt. Stryker,
leads Marines into battle,
yelling “Vive le Quebec libre!”


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In this Issue

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.

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)


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.


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. The first volume of this poetry is now published.

Short Fiction

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


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?”


A now timely 2002 interview with Tim Madigan, author of The Burning: Massacre, Destruction, and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. My hope when I produced this interview was that it would shed some light on this little-known brutal massacre, and help understand the pain and anger so entrenched in the American story. Eighteen years later, that remains my hope. .


"Sister" by Warren Goodson
"Shit's About To Go Down" -- a poem by Aurora M. Lewis

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.”


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 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"


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 #139

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
This bassist played with (among others) Charlie Parker, Erroll Garner, Art Tatum, Nat “King” Cole (pictured), Dexter Gordon, James Taylor and Rickie Lee Jones, and was one of the earliest modern jazz tuba soloists. He also turned down offers to join both Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and the Louis Armstrong All-Stars. Who is he?


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.


photo by Veryl Oakland
In this edition of photographs and stories from Veryl Oakland’s book Jazz in Available Light, Frank Morgan, Michel Petrucciani/Charles Lloyd, and Emily Remler are featured


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...


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


photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
"Louis Armstrong on the Moon," by Dig Wayne

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


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

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.”


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.

“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…

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