Theirs’ was a kind of mediation between then and now
No, it was a meditation on their only freedom: the deliverance of their music
No, no: a melding. One musician calling out: another answering.
Or maybe, a metaphor for the chorus of life
The way Lady-Day lamented the brief glory of
February 27th, 2018
In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I recently invited many of our contributing poets to submit work that combines the themes of jazz music and love, with the result being a collection of voices expressing their own contributions to the language of love…
Dozens of writers submitted over 100 poems, and the best of the submissions — 29 poems by 18 poets — are found on the following 12 pages. Advance through the selections by utilizing the page monitor at the bottom of each page.
Many thanks to everyone who submitted their work.
February 14th, 2018
the music’s so profound
so round & loud
& full of love
her word not mine
how stupid to argue over little
stupid to wrap ourselves around
February 6th, 2018
A wealth of excellent poetry has been submitted recently. Poems by Steven Dalachinsky, Michael L. Newell, John Stupp, Ron Kolm, and Freddington are examples…...
January 29th, 2018
Godmother of the gypsy tramp
half-breed goddess, unparalleled queen
of less is more, effortless weaver
of that old black magic—
your strength lay in the space between
the screaming sax and the scatting singer.
If midnight blue velvet were sound,
January 24th, 2018
(in response to an invitation
musical and raucous from the fingers
of Wild Bill Davis tickling the keys
of his organ seeking a musical response
by someone and something of equal stature)
Illinois I say accepted the challenge and blew
some blue some very blue blue blue notes
that set listeners
January 19th, 2018
Poetry is a courageous art form. No poet can possibly succeed without the willingness to create a completely transparent window into his or her soul. A poet rarely achieves by faking it.
A successful poet’s thoughts are naked to the world, and this full-on exposure — because it is so often blunt and painful for the poet — leaves the reader with a reasonable understanding of lives led and footsteps taken (or not). These revelations build a rewarding and intimate connection.
I have never met or spoken to Mike Faran, whose poetry I occasionally publish on Jerry Jazz Musician. I only outwardly know him by the short biography he sent me — retired lobster trap builder from Ventura who has had some work published in journals around the country. That’s it, really. I don’t even have a photo of him.
He has periodically sent me emails with a poem or two attached to them, seeking my interest in publishing them. (“Here is another poem that I hope will meet with your approval.”) Although I haven’t published them all, they almost always...
January 17th, 2018
Miles boils his bitches brew
in a night of worlds much blacker than black
His demons and angels let out slack
January 14th, 2018
The slow tumble of snow past
my partially open window
recalls the year in Amman
I sat for hours watching
a bleak whiteness deepen
all through the abandoned farm fields
surrounding my apartment
while the cool sound of Miles
gave shape and form to my grief
thousands of miles from
December 19th, 2017
It’s like talking of a lemon light, a blue mist,
a pale moonlight. In this case a pink rain.
It was something to do with Christmas
and I was leaving the supermarket,
buzzed, bugged, by muzak’s soothe and slink.
I walked out, into December,...
December 14th, 2017
like notes from
Jan Garbarek’s saxophone
as we stood in Raekoja Plats
drinking mulled wine and marveling
at the size of the Christmas tree.
It was crowded and festive; somewhat loud
sure, there was a...
December 12th, 2017
December 6th, 2017
Gifts and Messages. Which
the more important?
me listening feels
more like I’m playing that
swooping of sax waiting counterbal-
answer slowly fading
November 24th, 2017
Tonight I’m spinning
the ugly, unhip
jazzmen of Beehive records,
sweating in their transition shades,
mustaches sincere and wide,
collared tapestry shirts,
hair erupting from ears and noses
and they’re killing—
bellicose ogre grunts
November 22nd, 2017
At risen angles my furniture sits
each chair fills with blood
with a pulse that could strike, may cease.
Blue couch slants toward vibration
my black arms embracing, hold on
for the dark clots of bass hammering
initials into the
November 19th, 2017
From red kite country, driving South,
Dai Grandpa, fresh from yesterday,
such yesterday. Only when the
June sun sank, had Dai – dudein’
up my shirt front, puttin’ on
the shirt studs – reached evening’s land
– and such a yester-e’en. (Dai caught
the breeze, his ship came home.)
He breakfasts now in wild kite
November 13th, 2017
we all were
three fifteen year olds
along with one of our fathers.
the only white guys
in the club.
it was at dino’s club
in st.louis, in the fall of 1962
at the corner of
November 10th, 2017
September 28th, 2017
This truly foreign language
absorbs me into its differences,
rosetta stone hidden
in a cave of similarities
certain words share
with those of spanish
September 16th, 2017
all day a light breeze baptizes the landscape
gentle and captivating as a Paul Desmond solo
bushes rap windows and walls with rhythms
unusual and unexpected that Joe Morello would
approve would groove to and trees sway with...
September 1st, 2017
In the hazy glow of streetlights through the window
the jazz man sits
drinking in the music
sipping slowly with his mind
He thinks of all the past loves
the broken promises
August 24th, 2017
piano dances listeners down the street
feet must move to keep up
crowds gather round
street life jumping this way and that...
July 1st, 2017
when you fell out of a window
… you made me give up on you.
(maybe I shouldn’t have).
when the movie about you
recently came out: all of us
believed ethan hawke
was you, in “born to
June 22nd, 2017
The purpose of motion begins,
A clear mind, aware and in focus,
Ahead, the optical pathway lies empty and silent,
Slow at the start, breathing steady,
Stepping through the changes,
Favouring a motif,
As the intensity builds,
June 18th, 2017
full of bees again,
flapping in a stuttering breeze,
high up on...
June 12th, 2017
You bring out the jazz in me
The art blakey, max roach the roy haynes in me
Seeing you shake your hips like
Congas…the way you move your hips to a mamba
My heart pounding like drums inside my head
But this fever won’t put me in bed
Instead I get out on the dance floor
June 11th, 2017
May 18th, 2017
It’s the anybody;
the horned rimmed glasses,
book reader, bus rider, bow tie,
felt hat or tattoo that holds the
jazz. Distilled in flavor, an aroma
gentle and fierce. Its nail scratching,
May 13th, 2017
The wordsmith paints a picture,
A kind of bebop exchange,
Rambling around the neighbourhood,
Curbside to parkside,
Phrasing with style,
May 8th, 2017
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
May 4th, 2017
Watch her closely; loosen your clothes.
Her quiet storm makes love to listeners
in the heat of each performance,
cuts through crap, produces mystic music…
She’ll seduce you with contralto soul
until you lose your mind,...
April 19th, 2017
IT WAS ALL ABOUT SAX
when man said the wind man
blowing when does the wind do
its voodoo upon leaf and bud
bloody the morning the storm
warning it is on its way its windy
winding wickedly roaring crack
thunder and snap way paving
the air for
April 12th, 2017
Unlike New York City
L.A. is a woman who will love you back
But she gives her love freely and often
On a not so beautiful morning,
I went to the movies and thought
about you as the credits rolled.
Tried to wash you out of my hair,
but love lingers like a
April 2nd, 2017
Someone in the back of my
VW bus said it would be good to
turn our rock & roll band
into a jazz trio.
I turned off the radio. Complete
silence except for
the whistle of wheat as we swept
Then Pete said that he could...
March 31st, 2017
swing swagger and sway
she bop she bop drift those feet
first one way then another
swirl round and round and back again
light up the floor fly up above
March 13th, 2017
Yes, it is hot,
night sweats beneath
Spanish moss and the terror in trees
now knowing no cover of darkness
to greet a Sunday morning
under the stairs
16th Street Baptist Church.
and the siren wails
February 19th, 2017
She didn’t want to drink
so we walked hand-in-hand
half-way home before
it dawned on us that we had
parked behind the
February 11th, 2017
a leaf flutters rises and glides
to its rest a blues note
in autumn as a slow rain falls
at the end of a windy day
and a scattering of distant
January 11th, 2017
At the abandoned jazz club,
where I once debuted,
only spiders and rodents
reside behind the acoustical panels
that once resonated my dreams.
I see my distorted image
reflected upon the scarred ride cymbal
of a headless drum set
and feel like an intruder,
disrupting a Buddy Rich riff
December 16th, 2016
Her voice shredded, turned to gravel
by cigarettes and whiskey, she navigates
grocery aisles and checkout lines
as sotto voce she sings old songs
both jazz and country. People stare
in amazement as her ruined voice
elicits tears from listening bystanders.
In her living room she croons with
December 10th, 2016
after playing, my upright
kay bass, my fingers
still loving, the birds eye maple
neck & strings:
my left arm
hurt the next day.
after playing my old...
November 14th, 2016
A marsh harrier soars above the Norfolk broads
circling higher and higher
rather like a Gillespie trumpet solo that rises and rises
to dizzying heights of pitch and volume
eventually the bird slides behind billowing clouds
and vanishes into distance
so the trumpet reaches and...
October 4th, 2016
For years, the autobiography proved elusive,
speeding east like the double-jointed run
that skipped from white keys to black,
soldiers chased from Central Avenue battles.
Then the book took a rest, hiding out
in a nondescript store among academic texts,
tomes whose covers bore geometric shapes.
Cardboard screamed orange, red, and white,
the slow burn of a
September 13th, 2016
Rikki spun, spun
and leaped, twirled
on the jukebox, the small
bar filled with smoke, clinking
glasses, Filipinas in short dresses,
and a couple dozen G.I.’s profane,
obscene, and three-quarters in the bag;
Rikki, half-black, half-
Filipino, ten, living
in alleys and under bars, danced
August 25th, 2016
Playing bottleneck guitar, an octogenarian.
His arthritic fingers coax a life’s history,
ring changes of love and loss,
sketch joy’s birth in pain,
the rhythm an invitation...
July 25th, 2016
I wonder if it will take another body to stream into the Infinite….
For this was the odd idea that stirred me eerie
Like a push into the wild past from my future spirit to relive my final day,
Or a siren calling me to steal the virtuose of fire.
I was looking for Charlie Parker that night,
Improvising my footsteps under porch lights which spotted
July 13th, 2016
T-Bone Williams was the first
to use the
double-D harmonica &
he employed some lyrics that
seemed compatible —
this was way before Bobby
sometime in the late ‘40s when
he did his 12-string
July 11th, 2016
Why is my race your foe needling you to lord over me, saving me from my own savagery?
Why is my skin color a phobia gnawing at your innards,
making door locks snap as I approach?
Why is my punishment swift revealing deep seated prejudices, exposing unrecognized biases?
Why is my street flashing “blue”
when verdicts and fines from the 2008 meltdown are reversed?
Why is my excessive “heat” normal...
July 7th, 2016
Young and Gifted and Little Girl Blue
wants only to play classical ways of
Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven,
but Curtis – Philly, perhaps Carnegie too, whether prejudice or preference,
doesn’t think her particular hue
belongs with the masters, so she skips circus tents, every star in the sky,
June 24th, 2016
Barnacles scratch the hull of a voice
that grinds coral to grit in salty water
while a tune plays the tide
which whispers sandy beaches
and blows free on the wind.
Ships far from port halt in the night
to hear the fog-horn song,
to feel, to know and share
June 7th, 2016
Grabbing the blue basket of bottles I’d promised
to take to a recycle plant and then forgotten,
I drove too fast down a twisting mountain road,
safe in a young man’s faith that death is abstract
truth until a radio voice — speaking over Johnny Hodges’
sweet tenor on his “Take the A Train” — intones,
May 17th, 2016
“Liner Notes for ‘Stardust’ — In Seven Choruses” is a cycle of short poems framed as imaginary liner notes and prompted by poet Doug Fowler’s favorite musical covers of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust.” In essence, according to Fowler, they are “imaginary liner notes for a real song about an imaginary song about love.”
The cycle is also partially a tribute to Chu Berry, who died as the result of a car accident in Conneaut, Ohio, in 1941, not far from where Fowler lives....
April 25th, 2016
I’ll have it spare as the reverence you feel for silence
in your long melodic lines, where the music cries
in the sacred spaces you leave between the notes…
I’ll have the long curve of your back bending over
your shadow on the keys as you play “Turn Out
the Stars”, written for your father when he died,
Blue Notes stretching out as if you’d have them last...
April 15th, 2016
Oh, Mister Silver, please please please,
don’t make me beat my feet
no more no more no more.
I’ve been finger poppin’, thinking
about Juicy Lucy, dreaming
of some sweet stuff,
wanting to come on home to some...
April 9th, 2016
Put the Blame on Mame Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946)
There was never quite a dame as hot as Rita in Put the Blame on Mame
Gilda with luscious red locks
And strapless slit dress
We can imagine her while dancing in a state of undress -but I digress
Hair wanton and free expressing sexuality
In ample quantity
Gilda/Rita undulating to jazzy accompaniment in sultry climes
A time capsule of those forties’ times
January 25th, 2016