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POEM: skreeks & skronks (annotated version)

I posted this poem earlier today. It was a free-writing exercise — exactly what came into my head, no editing after the fact. As I was explaining the references to two friends, I thought it might be fun to make an annotated version of the poem for everyone to read. I’ve numbered the lines and put the notes at the bottom. Enjoy!

/ / /

skreeks & skronks

plectrum scraping against metal wire [1]
string theory: indeterminate length [2]
you take two bodies & mash their atoms [3]
collisions yielding energy / heat / light [4]
what if I gave you this & you kept it? [5]
one note in the bass arpeggio above [6]
we assimilate Italian terms because we [7]
have no adequate words to describe this [8]
aural multiverse through which we’re flying [9]
add drums bring to boil reduce heat simmer [10]
there are saved onions in the fridge [11]
they’ve accepted Jesus into their cores [12]
peeled away the layers of freewill [13]
acknowledged their eventual dicing in service [14]
of the Lord & his supper table [15]
bring me the head of Robert Fripp & [16]
five white people who can clap on two & four [17]
then lay me down in sheets of sound [18]
John Coltrane has my blood on his hands [19]
from when he slipped & I caught him [20]
he hovers above the bed in judgment [21]
waiting for his ascension when he’ll be [22]
seated at the right hand of Earl “Fatha” Hines [23]
“if all you can play are squeaks & honks [24]
then you’re not really free” [25]

10 April 2012
Brooklyn NY

NOTES (not all the lines have notes)

[1] This is a reference to some sounds coming from Terrence McManus’s Brooklyn EP, which I was listening to while writing this poem.

[2] A reference to this video.

[3] A revision of a line from the Paul Simon song “Hearts & Bones” combined with the science-y bit from the previous line.

[4] The previous line made me think of the Large Hadron Collider.

[6] Another description of the music from note [1].

[7] e.g. “arpeggio”

[10] The record changed to a duo album with Terrence McManus and drummer Gerry Hemingway called Below The Surface Of.

[11] Factually true, then “saved” becomes a play on words for converting to Christianity.

[16-17] These two lines came to me months ago but I never used them. They popped into my head while I was writing this poem. Robert Fripp is the founder and leader of the band King Crimson, among other things. The “two & four” thing is a classic jibe at white folks who are stereotypically more likely to clap on the first and third beats of a measure. If memory serves, Fripp once edited some performances in the studio to make drummer Bill Bruford’s playing sound more in 4/4 time than Bruford had played it.

[18] A revision of a line from Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” (“lay me down in sheets of linen”). When I got to “sheets of” I thought of John Coltrane’s “sheets of sound”.

[19-20] A mounted poster of Coltrane is hanging in my bedroom. When I hung it, I dropped it and cut my hand while catching it. I bled on the poster and have never cleaned off the blood stain.

[22] Ascension is an album by John Coltrane.

[23] “seated at the right hand of the father” is a line from the Apostles’ Creed, which I can still stay from memory despite not having been to a Catholic mass since the early 80s. Earl “Fatha” Hines was a jazz pianist.

[24-25] This is a paraphrase of something said by drummer Barry Altschul when I interviewed him earlier this year.

Published in Jazz Music My poems NaPoWriMo Poetry

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