“Grasping” — a poem by Fred Shaw

January 9th, 2018

“Royal Street New Orleans,” by Michael Flohr

 

 

Grasping

 

I.

All those good times
might’ve been what Duke
had in mind when vamping

his silky-fingered B-flats,
letting Coltrane counter
until tenor notes cluster

close to the bone, their take
on “In a Sentimental Mood”
leaving me grasping at our dreamy past,

where each New Orleans morning,
having snorted our way
through another cocaine night,

waiting on Valium’s coldcock
in our digs above that drag-
queen bar near the Quarter’s edge.

II.

Lately, my neck tingles
hearing Sarah Vaughan honey
the hi-fi, bending Duke’s tune

around Mundell Lowe’s crisp
guitar lines until the melody
makes me wistful for how we’d stagger

just before dawn, so eager to find
a pocket of deep sleep
among the disco bumping below,

our darkened bedroom glowing
with sit-com snagged
by rabbit-ears, the roaches

clicking behind walls
while canned laughter ran
over our skinny bodies.

 

_____

 

 

Fred Shaw is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, and Carlow University, where he received his MFA.  He teaches writing and literature at Point Park University and Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA.  He is the author of the chapbook, Argot (Finishing Line Press).  His poems have been published in 5AM, Poet Lore, Brilliant Corners, and Pittsburgh City Paper, where he currently reviews books. He is also the Poetry Editor for Pittsburgh Quarterly.  His poem, “Scraping Away” was recently chosen to be a featured work for the 2017 PA Public Poetry Project. In a parallel life, he has also worked in the service industry for the past twenty-five years. His poem, “Argot,” will be featured in an upcoming full-length documentary, Eating & Working & Eating & Working by filmmaker David Bernabo.  The film focuses on the lives of local service-industry workers. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife and rescued hound dog.

 

*

 

John Coltrane and Duke Ellington play “In a Sentimental Mood”

 

Sarah Vaughan (with Mundell Lowe on guitar) sings “In a Sentimental Mood”

 

Share this:

One comments on ““Grasping” — a poem by Fred Shaw”

  1. Ah, Fred. That’s the tune I play to pick me up off the floor. Ellington and Coltrane and three minutes of bliss. Nice job.

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published.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

In This Issue

Maxine Gordon, author of Sophisticated Giant: The Life and Legacy of Dexter Gordon, talks about her book, and the complex life of her late husband.

Also in this issue…A new collection of jazz poetry; "On the Turntable," a new playlist of 22 recommended recordings by seven 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…

On the Turntable

This month, a playlist of 22 recently released jazz recordings, including those by Chris Potter, Sons of Kemet, Stephan Crump, Brittany Anjou, Julian Lage, Joey DeFrancesco and Antonio Sanchez

Poetry

Seventeen poets contribute 21 poems in this month’s edition…

The Joys of Jazz

In new podcasts, Bob Hecht tells three stories; one about Miles Davis’ use of space in his music, one on the mutual admiration society of Sinatra, Lady Day, and Lester Young, and the other about the train in jazz and blues music.

“What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?”

Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Neil Tesser, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who write about their favorite album cover art

Art

“Thinking about Ida B. Wells” — a photo narrative by Charles Ingham

Jazz History Quiz #126

In 1964, along with the orchestra of arranger Lalo Schifrin (pictured), this flutist/alto sax player recorded one of the first “Jazz Masses,” and soon after studied transcendental meditation in India. He would eventually become well known as a composer of music for meditation. Who is he?

Great Encounters

Dexter Gordon tells the story of joining Louis Armstrong’s band in 1944, and how they enjoyed their intermission time.

Art

In this edition of Veryl Oakland’s “Jazz in Available Light,” photographs of Red Garland, Dizzy Gillespie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk are featured.

Short Fiction

"Strings of Solace," a short story by Kimberly Parish Davis

Interviews

Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell discusses the life of the important 20th century American artist

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

Short Fiction

"And so we went to Paris," a short story by Sophie Jonas-Hill

Coming Soon

National Book Award winning author for non-fiction Jeffrey Stewart is interviewed about his book The New Negro: The Life of Alain Locke

In the previous issue

The question “What are some of your all-time favorite record album covers?” was posed via email to a small number of prominent and diverse people, and the responses of Gary Giddins, Jimmy Heath, Fred Hersch, Joe Hagan, Maxine Gordon, Tim Page, Veronica Swift and Marcus Strickland are among the 25 writers, musicians, poets, educators, and photographers who participated...Also, the publication of the winning story in our 50th Short Fiction contest; an interview with Romare Bearden biographer Mary Schmidt Campbell; a collection of jazz poetry; two new podcasts by Bob Hecht; the March edition of "On the Turntable," and lots more...Click here to be taken to the issue.

Contributing writers

Site Archive