“Jazz” — a poem by William Chene

May 4th, 2017

 

 

 

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

“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…

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

Short Fiction

"Crossing the Ribbon" by Linnea Kellar is the winning story of the 51st Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute to the Summer, 2019 collection of jazz poetry reflecting an array of energy, emotion and improvisation

“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 John Snyder about the experience of working with Ornette Coleman at the time of his 1977 album Dancing in Your Head

Art

“Charles Ingham’s Jazz Narratives” — a continuing series

Poetry

Poetry by John Stupp and Michael L. Newell

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 Art Pepper, Pat Martino and Joe Williams.

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

In the previous issue

Michael Cuscuna, Mosaic Records co-founder, is interviewed about his successful career as a jazz producer, discographer, and entrepreneur...

Coming Soon

An interview with Nate Chinen, director of editorial content at WBGO Radio, former New York Times jazz writer, and the author of Playing Changes: Jazz in the New Century.

Contributing writers

Site Archive