“Jazz” — a poem by William Chene

May 4th, 2017

Abstract Jazz Musicians Painting,” by Meyer Tannenbaum

 

 

JAZZ

Somewhere between the wide open spaces
And those tiny, secret places in the heart,
The sound of nursery rhymes and temple chimes
Mingle with incense and nonsense
Until even the air has to smile.
That’s where you’ll find me, in my hiding place,
Making up rhymes and trying to keep time
To the pace of the tick tock tick of a million clocks,
All running at different licks, telling different times.
Each one an event in my life, a birth or a death…
It’s hard to get the meter right when the passing of time
Is split just two ways between day and night
And I am like a river of words that keeps getting lost
In those forgotten cemeteries and back water tributaries
That run so deeply through my soul.

Once, in a dream someone stole from sleep and gave to me,
A child asked me, “What is jazz?”
And suddenly I wake up sitting on a hill in Tibet with the Dali Lama.
He smiles and looks on as a long line of Buddhist monks
March single file wearing cowboy boots
And bright orange suits of the latest style.
And all the while, there is a thick pushy wind.
It makes a golden baritone sax begin
To sing its song of long and low strung out notes.
They seem to randomly float but still ring true
While extended chords hang in the air like sweet perfume.

And then, from nowhere comes a random, driving, rhythm sound
As the back beat races like a pounding heart
With its hand slapping bass
And its drums in your face and you know right from the start
It’s full of wisdom and pain, with a sound so cool
Even John Coltrane would have to smile and say, “Yeah, that’s ok”.
Cause no one can touch this beat
By just snapping their fingers or tapping their feet,
You see, jazz is a different kind of pain
It hurts like the blues but doesn’t ever complain
And nobody can tell you how or why
Because the words never come out the same. Might as well try counting fireflies in a jar
Till you think you know how many there are…
Or wait till that line of be-bop Buddhists finally come home
Lured by Zen poems and nursery rhymes
To my hiding place where the sacred chimes
Always play at ¾ time to the sound of a high hat symbol
Made of brass and silk that whispers to the world
“I always loved you”, as the sound of temple bells
Play softly, behind a music that never tells.

 

_____

 

 

 

William Chene is currently retired, and although his career background was in mechanical engineering, he also studied creative writing at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  He has written humorous fiction, spoken word poetry and contemporary poetry for many years, and has published Vision of a New Past: Poems About America (Final Thursday Press at University of Iowa), a book of slam poetry. 

 

Share this:

2 comments on ““Jazz” — a poem by William Chene”

  1. INDEED! You just put jazz out there as well as I’ve ever seen put. Plaudits and kudos for your work. We need more like this!

Comment on this article:

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

In This Issue

Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...Also in this issue, in celebration of Blue Note’s 80th year, we asked prominent writers and musicians the following question: “What are 4 or 5 of your all-time favorite Blue Note albums; a new collection of jazz poetry; “On the Turntable,” is a new playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings from six artists – Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano, Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian and Aaron Burnett; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Jazz History Quiz”; a new feature called “Pressed for All Time,”; a new photo-narrative by Charles Ingham; and…lots more.

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 18 recently released jazz recordings by six artists -- Joshua Redman, Joe Lovano. Matt Brewer, Tom Harrell, Zela Margossian, and Aaron Burnett

Poetry

In this month’s collection, with great jazz artists at the core of their work, 16 poets remember, revere, ponder, laugh, dream, and listen

The Joys of Jazz

In this new volume of his podcasts, Bob presents two stories, one on Clifford Brown (featuring the trumpeter Charlie Porter) and the other is part two of his program on stride piano, including a conversation with Mike Lipskin

Short Fiction

We had many excellent entrants in our recently concluded 50th Short Fiction Contest. In addition to publishing the winning story on March 11, with the consent of the authors, we have published several of the short-listed stories...

“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 an excerpt from his book Pressed for All Time, Michael Jarrett interviews producer Creed Taylor about how he came to use tape overdubs during the 1957 Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross Sing a Song of Basie recording session

Art

"Thinking About Charlie Parker" -- a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #128

Although he was famous for modernizing the sound of the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra -- “On the Sunny Side of the Street” was his biggest hit while working for Dorsey (pictured) -- this arranger will forever be best-known for his work with the Jimmie Lunceford Orchestra. Who is he?

Great Encounters

In this edition, Bob Dylan recalls what Thelonious Monk told him about music at New York’s Blue Note club in c. 1961.

Art

Jerry Jazz Musician regularly publishes a series of posts featuring excerpts of the photography and stories/captions found in Jazz in Available Light by Veryl Oakland. In this edition, Mr. Oakland's photographs and stories feature Stan Getz, Sun Ra, and Carla Bley.

Interviews

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, discusses her late husband’s complex, fascinating life.

Cover Stories with Paul Morris

In this edition, Paul writes about jazz album covers that offer glimpses into intriguing corners of the culture of the 1950’s

Coming Soon

"The Photography Issue" will feature an interview with jazz photographer Carol Friedman (her photo of Wynton Marsalis is pictured), as well as with Michael Cuscuna on unreleased photos by Blue Note's Francis Wolff.

In the previous issue

Jeffrey Stewart, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke, is interviewed about Locke (pictured), the father of the Harlem Renaissance. Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 19 recommended recordings by five jazz artists; three new podcasts by Bob Hecht; a new “Great Encounters”; several short stories; the photography of Veryl Oakland and Charles Ingham; a new Jazz History Quiz; and lots more…

Contributing writers

Site Archive