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Category: Music

POEM: For McCoy Tyner

[McCoy Tyner at the 2013 Detroit Jazz Festival. Photo: Jason Crane.]

For McCoy Tyner

McCoy Tyner died today.
He was 81.
Honestly that surprised me;
I’d thought he was older.
Aren’t all masters ancient?
Or maybe timeless. Ageless.
Achieve a certain level of fluency
& you pass beyond the reach of the clock’s hands,
slip through Death’s grasping arms.
Now all four are gone: John, then Jimmy,
Elvin next, now McCoy.
A baby born tomorrow will never have
breathed the air at the same time
as any member of Coltrane’s classic quartet.
I wasn’t born when Trane died.
I was two when Jimmy left us.
Once I shook Elvin’s hand.
Another time I heard McCoy play.
McCoy Tyner died today.
He was 81.

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Jason Crane
7 March 2020
Tucson, AZ

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POEM: new world man: for Neil Peart

new world man: for Neil Peart

mid-80s, knees wedged against
      the vinyl bus seat
avoiding my fellow students
      with a Sony Walkman
I had to bend the headphone cord
      just so to listen in stereo
I still have good hearing today
      despite blasting Signals
over & over at the limit
      of those cheap headphones
later: band trip to Virginia, John & Scott
      in the back of the bus
boombox across their laps, John on
      air drums, Scott on bass
memorizing every note of
      Moving Pictures
(put sticks in John’s hands &
      he could really play that stuff;
      our hometown Neil)
later still: at the War Memorial
      in the era of the rotating drum set
we heard the harp glissando
      cheered ourselves hoarse as Neil
roared like the god of thunder
      row after row of awkward teens
      beating the air in unison
’91, Japan: borrowed room, borrowed CD player
      Roll The Bones on repeat
till Shoko banged on the wall, yelled — in the
      Japanese I was just learning —
to turn it down (memories of my parents
      buying me a stereo my mom
      would never let me turn up)
this morning: false spring, older now
      than he was then
out for my morning walk blasting
      Signals, Grace Under Pressure
water in my eyes but not from the rain
      drums carrying the weight of years
all the memories wrapped up in those sounds
      seems to me it’s chemistry

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Jason Crane
11 January 2020
State College PA

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POEM: Japanese Punk On The Corporate Wheel

Japanese Punk On The Corporate Wheel

Got my uniform on again. Now, in addition to being
embarrassed by the fact of it, I’m also embarrassed
by the fit. I’ve lost twenty-five pounds and look like
a kid in my father’s clothes. And if there’s one thing
I no longer want to wear, it’s the legacy of my father.
Either of them. Anyway to cut the taste of defeat
I control the music. Me and my Bluetooth speaker
against the world, or at least the office. Right now
I’m playing the Japanese punk band Chai at a volume
that can only be called inconsiderate. I know. But
there are times when four young women screaming
in unison in Japanese is the only thing that will
shove the darkness back a few steps so I can get
a full breath in.

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Jason Crane
7 January 2020
State College PA

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POEM: Playing The Fania All-Stars At My Retail Job

Playing The Fania All-Stars At My Retail Job

Takes me back to my early days playing
latin jazz and salsa in Tucson bars.
When we were all the way on
whole rooms full of sweating dancers
would cheer, spinning, singing along. ¡Baila!
Me, a 20-year-old white kid with no business
among these grizzled Mexican and Puerto Rican
veterans of the local music scene. Playing the claves
like an elementary school kid with woodblocks.
“If you’re going to play them,” Ismael said, “PLAY THEM.”
Later he would tell me, during a flamenco tune:
“Clap like my mama’s making tortillas.”
(He offered me cocaine, drank Scotch during every set
till the tempos were elastic as putty.)
Later I would lay jazz melodies over the dance rhythms.
Will, the bongocero, said to a new trumpeter:
“Can you play them jazz songs like my man Jason?”
I floated off the floor in my cap-toed spectators.
MCA Records offered us a deal, so we got together
at Izzy’s house to lay down a bunch of music.
Izzy got coked up, missed the meeting with the execs,
the deal was off. But when we were on, man,
we were all the way on.

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Jason Crane
27 December 2019
State College PA

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POEM: Real

Real

I watch John Tchicai dance lightly
through the minefield of “supposed to.”
He’s far ahead but I can see him,
and though the way is full of danger,
I take one step—

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Jason Crane
12 December 2019
State College PA

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POEM: Careful With That Gene, You Ax

Careful With That Gene, You Ax

This is what happens when you listen to
early Pink Floyd in the office with the volume
cranked way up. It’s almost closing time
& nearly everyone is gone. The guitar sounds
like a scream, or maybe the scream sounds
like a guitar. I let the music scream for me
because if my coworkers walked in & found me
on the desk shrieking they’d probably call someone official.
I’ve got 14,532 steps on my Fitbit today & not one of them
landed me anywhere good.
Beige. Everything is beige.
I love stories about the sea because at sea
you can look out to the horizon and it’s infinite.
You can’t do that with beige.
I’m making money for the Big Boss.
All things being equal, I’d rather put him on a rocket
& set the controls for the heart of the sun.

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Jason Crane
9 December 2019
State College PA

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