Skip to content →

Category: Jazz

POEM: The First Time

The First Time

Junior high auditorium.
(It’s an old folks home now.)
Jazz ensemble show.
They got to the solo spot.
Mr. Boyce (now deceased)
stepped to the electric piano.
A kid rose in the sax section,
the school’s soprano sax shining
in the stage lights, to take a solo.
The drummer kicked into action,
Mr. Boyce pounded the keys,
the kid closed his eyes and blew
until a whole new future
stretched out in front of him.

/ / /

18 August 2023
Charlottesville VA

This is poem 28 in a series called 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.

Leave a Comment

POEM: Coltrane

Coltrane

For my birthday one year
you bought me a mounted poster
of John Coltrane.
It hung in our house.
Then it hung in my apartment.
Then when my new partner and I
moved to Tucson
(coincidentally where you and I met),
it hung in the spare bedroom.
I looked at it often when I started sleeping
in that bedroom.
When I left I gave it to friends.
As far as I know, they still have it.

/ / /

12 August 2023
on a train in central VA

This is poem 22 in a series called 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.

Leave a Comment

POEM: Roll To Me

Roll To Me

We had the three networks and PBS and UHF
and the nearest music store was 45 minutes away.
The late shows had musical guests, so once we got a VCR
I started taping the bands I liked, or the bands I wanted to like.
10,000 Maniacs & Del Amitri & Black 47 &
Go West & Blues Traveler & & &.
The tracking was bad on the tape and the reception
had never been good to begin with, but I watched those songs
again and again until the artists were no longer even visible,
and then I just listened, until even the sound went.
I backed into a lot of music in those days.
It wasn’t about searching. It was about chancing upon;
accidentally getting a copy of On The Corner before
ever even hearing Kind Of Blue. Most of my music
was on records from my grandpa or dubbed cassettes
of things in my friends’ collections. In the mid-80s
I went to the tape shop in the mall and bought the first music
I’d ever paid for with my own money: Chuck Mangione’s
An Evening Of Magic — Live At The Hollywood Bowl.
It was a double cassette. A thick brick of brilliance.
When I learned to drive, I always wanted to borrow the Escort
because it had a tape deck. The Soul Cages & Signals &
Seconds Out & Bring On The Night & Brain Salad Surgery &
Running In The Family & Love Over Gold & The Final Cut,
all blasting out in the Ontario County night.
When it snowed, I’d put on a tape of the Star Wars soundtrack
and drive the deserted back roads with the brights on —
the poor kid’s hyperspace.

/ / /

26 July 2023
Charlottesville VA

This is poem #5 in a new series, 50 Days Till 50 Years. I’m writing a poem a day between now and my 50th birthday. I’m going to try to focus on memories of my past, and the people who inhabited it.

Leave a Comment

poem: (untitled)

the trumpet player
leans in and whispers
into my ear
a poem about death

/ / /

18 May 2023
Charlottesville VA

One Comment

haibun: 22 April 2023

As the storm starts I press play on the Dave Brubeck album and think of my grandpa. When I was a kid he had a record by the Jack Stewart Quartet, playing Brubeck tunes. They were a band from the Berkshires, where he and I are also from. Half the album was recorded live at a private girls’ school, the other half … I can’t quite recall. Long before I heard the Brubeck originals, I heard these local reproductions, which had the odd effect of making Brubeck seem like the copycat.

thunder drowns the piano
rain on the glass like snares
turntable memories of spring

/ / /

22 April 2023
Charlottesville VA

Leave a Comment

POEM: 23

23

This is a poem
inspired by an album
inspired by twenty-three paintings.

This is a stanza in a poem
inspired by an album
inspired by twenty-three paintings.

This
is a word in a stanza in a poem
inspired by an album
inspired by twenty-three paintings.

T—
his is a letter in a word
in a stanza in a poem
inspired by an album
inspired by twenty-three paintings.


is the absence of a word
in a stanza in a poem
inspired by an album
inspired by twenty-three paintings.

*

up in the sky
we make the stars
make pictures

/ / /

14 March 2023
State College PA

Leave a Comment

haiku: 7 January 2023

the room is a little too warm
Bing is singing the classics
later there’ll be snow

/ / /

7 January 2023
State College PA

Leave a Comment

POEM: Digging Bill Evans

Digging Bill Evans

I was 21, driving a used car,
no money in the bank, a job
as a waiter in my uncle’s restaurant
awaiting me in the desert.
I moved into a studio apartment:
a bed, a small sofa, a scuffed old
round table from the restaurant.
I had my stereo from back east;
the library across the street
had CDs. I’d sign them out
then sit on the floor, head
between the speakers, trying to
find my way into the music.
Now I have a 20-year-old son.
I can’t afford a studio apartment.
I don’t have a job waiting for me.
I’m still trying to find my way
into whatever story the music is telling.

/ / /

21 November 2022
State College PA

Leave a Comment

haiku: 24 September 2022

Pharoah sails the new moon
look on his works
ye mighty and rejoice!

/ / /

24 September 2022
State College PA
for Pharoah Sanders

Leave a Comment

haiku: 18 June 2022

at the end of this line, a saxophone!

/ / /

18 June 2022
Lowell MA
(written in front of
Jack Kerouac’s birthplace)

Leave a Comment

Happy arrival day!

It’s been 108 years since Sun Ra arrived from Saturn. Not sure where to start with his massive discography? Try this one:

Leave a Comment