POEM: Charles Mingus Running Laps

Charles Mingus Running Laps

The new old Mingus was recorded
seven months before my own debut;
thirty-plus years before I made it to Detroit,
where Charles and Roy and Joe and
John and Don were still figuring out
the steps, some of them having only
recently been invited to dance.

There is space for all of us in music.
The misfits and the fits, if those
even exist. I’m skeptical myself.
But anyway there is room enough
at this kitchen party for you
and everyone you’ve ever known.
Hang up your coat and grab a drink.

I was a kid the first time I saw men play jazz.
My grandpa took me to hear Pete Fountain
and Al Hirt someplace. Rochester maybe. He knew
them from Lawrence Welk. At least that’s where he
learned about Pete. Toupee like a dare, clarinet
dancing like a baton as he made the uncool
cool. Saved my adolescence.

OK not actually. It still wasn’t cool to play jazz
in the eighties. Not as a nerdy white kid
in an all-white town forty-five minutes
from the birthplace of Chuck Mangione.
I did get a lot of hall passes from
the band teacher, and that was something.
Better than class. Way better than gym.

I like to picture Mingus sneaking out
of the locker room before his gym teacher
can line him up for dodgeball. Mingus who
might have flashed a blade at Duke. Mingus
who told racists in no uncertain terms
to fuck right off. Did he have to run laps,
gasping in the morning cold?

///

Jason Crane
20 November 2018
State College PA

Posted in Jazz, Music, My poems, Poetry | Leave a comment

POEM: The comfort of your body beside me

The comfort of your body beside me

in the hours after midnight
is not that you will always be there
but that you’re there now.
I don’t believe in forever.
I think I did as a child, kneeling
at the altar rail, feeling the slight
pressure of a hand on the back
of my head as I spoke the lines of
the confirmation prayer. That pressure
is gone now, as is the belief that led
me to my knees then and so many times
before. I am not without conviction
in my middle years; nor am I without
faith of a sort. If I reach out my hand
just a few inches I’ll feel your skin
warm and soft under the electric
blanket. I do that from time to time,
reminding myself to take nothing
for granted. I still fall to my knees
to worship, too, though I give tongue
to different prayers. Both of us
together, one body. Amen.

///

Jason Crane
14 November 2018
State College PA

Posted in My poems, Poetry | Leave a comment

POEM: Sunrise Mart

Sunrise Mart

Just now while
I was meditating
I saw you (not
really but you know)
outside the cart return
at Wegmans, dark green
flannel (unbuttoned
over a black tee shirt)
flapping in a cold wind.
I asked are you happy,
you said I am are you,
yes I said and we hugged.
Then the wind blew the cart,
I turned around to grab it,
when I looked again
you were gone.

///

Jason Crane
11 November 2018
State College PA

Posted in My poems, Poetry | Leave a comment

VIDEO: Eric Ian Farmer & Jason Crane Play “Griot”

“Griot” by Eric Ian Farmer
Live at Barrel 21 Distillery, State College PA, 7 November 2018


Posted in Music, My Music | 2 Comments

POEM: the unmoving stars go uniformly westward

the unmoving stars go uniformly westward

chai growing cold beside me
I page through a book of mystic poems
these days everything is closer to my skin
and my nerves push up toward the sky
like saplings looking for sunlight

walking around ecstatically is both
tiring and enlivening; I’m swimming
downstream in cold water

the trees talk to one another
in language as complex as ours
we know this even if we try not to

whales sing, as do dolphins
bees dance, corvids make tools

one day I’m sure we’ll find we too
are part of a pattern too large to see
with just two eyes

the unmoving stars go uniformly westward
we follow them like children

///

Jason Crane
4 November 2018
State College PA

Posted in My poems, Poetry | 1 Comment

POEM: avocado toast with the saints

avocado toast with the saints

“how do you still do it?”
our friends ask,
“sit across from one another
like nothing happened?”
but that’s exactly not
what we’re doing
we sit across from one another
like all of it happened
like it hurt sometimes
like it heated and shaped us
we sit across from one another
knowing those two are gone
grateful for what they left us

///

Jason Crane
State College PA
1 November 2018

Posted in My poems, Poetry | Leave a comment