Heads up to all interested short fiction writers…The deadline for submitting your story for consideration in our 44th Short Fiction Contest is January 31. Contest details are found here.
His fingers move
with sounds of rain,
while clouds roll
within eyes of long years.
Sweat marks the work undone,
A river hammer beats
streams of jazz
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
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
Where have all the flowers gone?
Have I been asleep?
The brilliant yellow sunshine crispness of
The seductive red rouge intimacy of
The smooth rich rose caress of
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
“What a shame,” people always said whenever they saw the two of them, Jeremy and Jade. What a shame the beauty of the boy had escaped the girl, who had her mother’s small oval face and father’s prominent nose and small dark eyes that were filled with a peculiar, almost unnatural intensity. “Such a shame,” relatives observed unabashedly at family gatherings. The remaining phrase that hung in air unspoken was, ”that she isn’t the beautiful one. “
To herself in the mirror, Jade’s own face and visage seemed fine, just a part of her, not even all that consequential. Didn’t brains and character matter more? She was striking much in the way Zelda Fitzgerald had been—a beauty you could not capture in photographs, more in movement, gesture, articulation. Somewhere, not far from the small, provincial town where Jade lived, where people stared at you if you did not fit a mold, there were people like her who were different and proud of their differences and she looked forward to meeting them one day. In the meantime, she would have to deal with challenges.
Growing up, many of them had to do with her brother, who was two years older. Although Jade garnered high marks in school, not much was made of it so
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
I had them
from the winged
to the old
Today’s Writers Almanac daily poetry post — as chosen by Garrison Keillor — is “1960” by Billy Collins, a brilliant piece that reminds us of the intimacy found in a 1960 Bill Evans live recording.
In the old joke,
the marriage counselor
tells the couple who never talks anymore
to go to a jazz club because at a jazz club
everyone talks during the