by Ishmael Reed
Lake Merritt is Bud Powell’s piano
The sun tingles on its waters
Snuff-jawed pelicans descend
tumbling over each other like
Bud’s hands playing Tea For Two
or Two for Tea
Big Mac Containers, tortilla chips, Baby Ruth
wrappers, bloated dead cats, milkshake
cups, automobile tires
float on its surface
Seeing Lake Merritt this way is
like being unable to hear
Bud Powell at Birdland
Because people are talking
Clinking glasses of whiskey and
Ishmael Reed is an American poet, essayist,songwriter, playwright, and novelist, as well as being an editor and publisher. Reed is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.
Reed’s work has often sought to represent neglected African and African-American perspectives; his energy and advocacy have centered more broadly on neglected peoples and perspectives, irrespective of their cultural origins.
Since 2012, Ishmael Reed has maintained the honor of being the first SF Jazz Poet Laureate for SF JAZZ, the leading nonprofit jazz organization on the West Coast.
In 2003, Reed wrote Blues City: A Walk in Oakland. To read our interview with him about this book, click here.
To read our recent interview with Guthrie Ramsey, author of The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop, click here.
Bud Powell plays “Tea For Two”