Poetry by Lou Lipsitz

December 27th, 2013

georelewishifi

In memory of George Lewis, Great Jazzman

1

Man is the animal that knows
the clarinet

makes his living
on the docks, a stevedore,
110lbs., carrying what loads
he can

the Depression comes along,
his teeth rot, no money and
he has to accept silence

 

2

Thirteen years
later
they put the instrument
back together
with rubber bands
bought him
new teeth
and then he began

 

I     C     E
E                            I
C                                C
I                                      E
C                                C
E                            I
I     C     E
C————————————————-C

R                              R

E                     E

A        A

M M

E      R                               A      V
V                       T                   W                 E
O                           H     E                                            S

M———————————————————————-T
Y                                                   I
B                                             N
U                                          I
C                                     E
K                                L
E                          O
T’                      H
S G O T A

One song they say

was pure
uninhibited joy
words
cannot tell you

survived so long
in those empty jaws

 

3

He lived and died
there.
Had a New Orleans funeral.

Leading the mourners
his old friends’ band
trudged
to the cemetery, heads
down, trombones scraping
the ground, slow tones of
“Just a Closer Walk…”
helping to carry
the solemn mud
of their steps.

Graveside,
words said, tears fallen,
they turned
to walk back;
a few beats on the big
drum, then soft plucking
of a banjo string-
in another block
the clarinet wailed
and then suddenly they were
playing
“The Saints…” full blast
and people jumped
and shouted and dances
just as he’d known they would.

 

4

Alright. There is a frailness
in all our music.
Sometimes we’re broken
and it’s lost.
Sometimes we forget
for years it’s even in us, heads
filled with burdens and smoke.

And sometimes we’ve held
to it and it’s there,
waiting to break out
walking back from the end.

 

*

 

Poignant Moment, listening to “Lakes” played by
the Pat Metheny Group, Sunset Beach, Summer,
1984

 

The song comes over me like a wheat field, my face
brushed by golden stalks

My spirit moves forward like a blind one and when
things touch me… I see them

How could I know there was so much tenderness
hidden in things, in my flesh?

How could I know the love for the white paint for
the porch of the house where it clings
and flakes? How could I know my daughter
would come back?

How could I know about the air or the inquiring,
efficient blood, returning to the cells?

I see the love of the pale blue wind for our clothes,
blown out from the line,

The wind loves our house, whistling through tiny
cracks, blowing steadily toward us.

There is something in me that listens and stirs.
Everything flows, grasping. Everything is
a kind of attachment, a music; time aching
through us.

It is too much to feel. I put down my pad. Even
breathing is a kind of ceaseless music.

I see we cannot rest, ever. We seek for love,
continually, carried along like dust, swept
across lakes. How did I ever come to be
here, to know these people, to love them?

Our need for love exceeds us, reaching ahead,
dark hair blowing like a torch in the halls
of the old castle. It goes ahead, looking
foe signs, listening, searching.

And then the wind catches it suddenly and lifts it,
swift and beautiful, carries it far out over
the lakes- sail without a boat, banner
of our incorrigible longings.

 

*

 

If This World Falls ApartIf This World Falls Apart

for Bennett

I never troubled to grasp the basic principles
of how my voice zings through the phone lines
and into your ear; and so, the phones out,
I could not even begin to get a handle on how
to recreate the way I could call to ask you
if this world had truly fallen apart, or
if this was another serious but passing crisis.

And the roads blocked by shattered trees,
I would have to walk over and ask you
and see what you thought.
That would take most of the day.
so I’d have to stay the night
and have supper at your house,
though I’m not sure how we would cook
without any power or light.
Fire, most likely, or eat cold out of the garden.

Millennia of human struggle and invention
would be lost if it depended on us –
two clueless poets collecting sticks
along a dark road;
men of lifelong impracticality,
depending on others to do
the functional things that repair our intricate
systems.

Although, on the other hand, there would be the dance
you would certainly do at sunset to lift our spirits.
And to accompany you, I would find
a hollow reed and put my fingers
over the holes I’d burned through it
and begin to blow.

 

__________


Lou Lipsitz grew up in Brooklyn and is now a psychotherapist and poet. He’s published four books of poems, the latest was
If This World Falls Apart (Lynx House Press, 2011) which won the Blue Lynx award. His work has been widely anthologized. He lives in Chapel Hill, NC and attempts to play the harmonica. He loves jazz and Celtic music, especially.

lewislip

Lou (right) with son Jon and grandson Zachary

 

Share this:

Comment on this article:

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

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)

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.

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. 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

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

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. .

Poetry

"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.”

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 #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?

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.

Photography

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

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...

Interview

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

Humor

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

Interview

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.”

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.

“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…

Contributing writers

Site Archive