A collection of short jazz poems – Vol. 1

January 27th, 2023

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by Russell duPont

Art by Russell duPont

The artist, writer and poet Russell duPont created the art appearing on this post specifically for this collection of poetry.  His efforts are so very appreciated. 

Please click here to visit his website.

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…..For several years, Jerry Jazz Musician has encouraged poets to submit jazz  poems of any length, and those accepted are often published in extensive anthologies – the most recent being the Fall/Winter 2022/2023 collection.

…..While the publication of such collections will continue, I felt it was time to shake things up and try something new, but struggled with what that would be until I came across this quote by Sylvia Plath:

“Poetry, I feel, is a tyrannical discipline. You’ve got to go so far so fast in such a small space; you’ve got to burn away all the peripherals.”

…..This idea of a poet “burn[ing] away all the peripherals” led me to imagine a simplification – or shortening – of the form itself, and decided that a collection devoted to short-form jazz poetry could provide welcome inspiration for the poets, and be compelling to the reader.  Consequently, in September I invited poets to submit jazz poems of no longer than seven lines.   Their embrace of this idea is found in the collection that follows.

…..As always, thanks to the poets and readers, and I hope you enjoy…

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Joe Maita

Editor/Publisher

 

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Readers may notice that some poems appear to be longer than seven lines, but this is due to the limitations of digital formatting.  Line length may also vary depending on the device you use to read the collection.  If you view the collection on a cell phone, for example, turn the device horizontally so more space is enabled and the poet’s intent for the poem can be most accurately consumed. 

At the conclusion of the poems, biographies of the artist and poets contributing to this collection are listed in alphabetical order.

Poems appear under the poet’s name. 

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“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.”

-Edgar Allan Poe

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“Be brief, be buoyant, and be brilliant.”

-Brander Matthews (writer and literary critic)

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A selection of jazz recordings are available to listen to throughout the collection.

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Listen to the 1959 recording of Ornette Coleman playing “Mind and Time,” from the album Tomorrow Is The Question!,  with Don Cherry (trumpet); Percy Heath (bass); and Shelly Manne (drums).  [Universal Music Group]

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Patricia Carragon

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To dream in jazz

is to become jazz.
Close your eyes and listen—
go to where jazz becomes life.
When your eyes reopen,
you’ll become jazz—
your words will sing the blues.

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The Blues Haiku

every time it rains
the blues are born even when
the sun is shining

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ladies sing the blues
stranded notes travel down cheeks
rain comforts sorrow

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the blues seek solace
we pick up our horns play tunes
to sooth rain-washed eyes

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Michael Keshigian

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Pete

The Fountain gushed
…………..a flood of incantations
from his ebony wand
…………..pointed skyward,
lost in his world
…………..to excite your soul.

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Rich

His pupils danced through the night
…………..as the band instigated him
with licks from the modal map,
…………..crazy faced and wild stare,
inducing his rim-shot rhythms
…………..to shake the walls.

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Duke

The aristocrat with his proud,
…………..piano posture,
arrested your mind
…………..as he and his ensemble
stole your soul,
…………..with the excitement
…………..and emotion of elegant jazz.

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Desmond

Creating sounds so smooth,
…………..golden hues from his golden horn
only the angels could duplicate,
…………..carried so high, it might be heaven
his fingers moving with elegance,
…………..ballroom dancing on the keys.

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Ella’s Voice

It was impossible not to listen,
…………..its intensity, the spell it cast
from the stage, spiraling outward
…………..to wrap the audience with warmth,
a technique
…………..both mesmerizing and magical.

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Laura Trigg

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Jazz Combo

Piano keys begin the tease,
stand up bass is plucked to please,
alto sax exhales a sigh,
but then that trumpet starts to cry.

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Improv

The saxophonist inserts a solo
into the sinews of “Your Lady”
while moving from sigh to scream.
The notes were within him—
incubating, turning, straining—
and he now breathes them
into being.

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George Held

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All That Jazz

People lined up along Seventh
Waiting for the doors to open
At the Village Vanguard
“Who’s on tonight?”
“Della!” “Chet!” “Ornette!”
Disguise your excitement.
Be cool.

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Funny Valentine

They all crooned it,
the essential ballad-
Baker, Ella, Johnny Hartman
Miles on horn, Frankie Boy
Louis on horn and vocals-
They all crooned it.
Funny…

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Try to contain
…..Ornette Coleman
in a haiku

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by Russell duPont

art by Russell duPont

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Terrance Underwood

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Welcome Guests

sharing with their hosts
Epiphytes and Jazz
both eminent each
from air
from water
sound and rhythm

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Pleasurable

smoke curl
rises slow out
an open window
in time to a
Sonny tune
“Valse Hot”
cool for Miami

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Lester Brings It

reed toned breath
………..swing metal
…………………….shaped
to valve the language
………..sending something solid
…………………….into atmosphere

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An Application of Strayhorn’s Theorem

A petal pulled away discreet
upsetting symmetry in this hour
this rose to some now incomplete
remains still a lovesome flower

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Nutrition

notes absorbed
Monk’s moods then
culinary when
prepared by others
seasoned & served
………………set beautiful
a Thelonious way to play

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Dan Brown

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A.M. Commute

Driving to work— Listening to

Thelonious playing
Eubie Blake’s ‘Memories of You’—

While Forsythia that I pass each day
Lose yellow blossoms
And slowly turn green.

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For Clifford

Beloved trumpet… Daahoud the brother
of David battling every Goliath, gently, with glorious
bursts of notes, a muezzin chant calling us home

early morning, finishing the gig, greeting the dawn
saying Sandu… farewell to friends and life
because no seat belt safety exists for you and Richie

no Joy Spring evermore though all we hear we welcome.

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Every

spare space of dawn stirring sparse
(milk
coffee) jazz spoonfuls at a time
slowly emptying cups
of rhythm
trading four over four over…
……………daylight.

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Letters From Home

Ancient letters, postmarked from the past, from the twenties and thirties,
on brittle shellac, about love in vain and my baby’s boarding the next train.
Knife blades on guitar strings sliding toward Babylon, toward now.
From the devil’s dusty crossroads at midnight to freeways snarling in morning rain.
From greasy fish fry rent parties by rickety tracks
to purple plush concert halls come salutations for the young
from beyond weed covered graves.

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Rodney Wood

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I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

We never got to meet and now it’s too late.
You’re dead, annoying the hell out of Pops,
Duke, Bird but mainly that heavenly choir
of spirits, celestial beings, all singing acapalla.

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DH Jenkins

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Summer Time

It’s winter time, and I’m staring out of a frosted window
as Charlie Parker’s “Summertime” comes on the radio,
his sax, a kite on the wind of so many violins.
Cream skies melt like clouds into a spoon of cold coffee.
The saxophone cries out—so many blackbirds taking flight!
And I’ve been delivered to that endless afternoon
beyond cold turkey w/out stress or untimely death.

 

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Listen to the 1958 recording of Miles Davis playing “Summertime,” from the album Porgy and Bess  [Columbia/Legacy]

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Russell duPont

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Jazz Haiku

a simple haiku
is not enough to describe
the sweet taste of Jazz.

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the cool sarcasm
of a Miles’ trumpet solo,
that’s what Jazz is, Man

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a front row table
our honeymoon with Ella
we both get Misty

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“Yardbird,” Jazz genius
blows sounds, flowing, melodic;
be-bop and the blues.

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The Jazz Baroness
lives in Monk’s Pannonica
with love, ‘round midnight.

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Mary K. O’Melveny

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Burning Billie’s Candles At Both Ends

Gardenia scented
sweet heady hints of hope
mingled with tears

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Someday My Prince Will Come

Vibrato cut away
Human voices whisper moan
rasp ..sigh ..croon…. like angels

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Live at Village West with Ron Carter and Jim Hall

packed ..room ..hushed ..crowds ..golden.. sound
Monk ..Sonny.. Gershwins ..Kern ..Milt
Modern day alchemy

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Cool School (for Chet Baker)

I can croon like a pied butcherbird
I can play ..trumpet.. flugelhorn
blues.. valentines.. riffs ..revelations
don’t ask me to explain myself
to reveal anything ..to go straight
don’t judge me ….just listen

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Aurora M. Lewis

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Take Me There

Going back to find a Cool Cat
See, I like them like that, Fedora
cocked ace deuce, trousers tapered
and wing tips buffed to all be damned
He’d order me a Blue Moon cocktail
as we dug the jazz tones and the scenes
at Club Alabam

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Esperanza

She rocks an axe and a bass
An Endangered Species
courtesy of Wayne as she
scats and sings, Jazz Ain’t
Nothing But Soul, she
proclaims, Spalding is
her name

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Watermelon Men

Sipping on a glass of red wine
the sweet kind, as I lean back in
my chair, eyes closed, feeling
composed, digging the vibes
of Herbie and Miles, drifting
off, Round About Midnight
With my Watermelon Men

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by Russell duPont

art by Russell duPont

 

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Michael L. Newell

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Free Jazz

Wild world of free jazz too often termed autoschediastic,
yet genius of Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Mingus, Don Cherry,
mature Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Pharoah Sanders was both
astonishingly innovative and governed by deep musical insight
and daring of porpoises in uninhibited flight, exploration
rock climbers could appreciate, and spiritual in ways
the most austere monk in a desert cave might recognize.

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Miles At Work

Miles Davis convinced less is more
creates deeper feeling with fewer notes
than trumpet players thought conceivable
etches raw delicacy in fabric of air bends
time space fills them with sparse profundity

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In An Evening Mist

A raft of ducks, a bundle of bairns, and I
perform an evening dance around a creek,
as Douglas fir trees solo all through
the gloaming in the wind’s arms
with a voice like a song softly sung
by Ben Webster’s sax. I am wet with joy,
and my companions are free, free, free.

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Alone At Last

old dude creates lyrics

for sax and trumpet whispers
playing in his head

alone in auditorium

late concert flows on memory’s breeze
his feet beat polyrhythms to wind outside

all life he realizes is music seeking a home

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Beauty of Endings

sunset sprays horizon with burst
of color brilliant and striking
as a Clark Terry solo soaring up and up
until its silvery virtuosic sheets
of sound reach stunning silence

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Byron Beynon

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Early Jazzers

Dew on the woken fruit,
those early Jazzers
true harvesters of improvised
blue rhythms and yearning hearts.

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Bird

Those listening days
back then,
did they know you’d
survive those fast tempos,
hearing the wondrous
sounds within?

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Listen to the 1947 recording of Charlie Parker playing “Embraceable You,” with Miles Davis (trumpet); Duke Jordan (piano); Tommy Potter (bass); and Max Roach (drums). [Universal Music Group]

 

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Steve Paul

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Nutty

The twirler, the plinker-plunker
be minor, be diminished,
be neither of those things,
the waking, the daily glories,
the human scales
and ache-y arrows to heart, to ear,
I dream of Monkishness supreme

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Ornithology

Bird call this morning is alto-sax heir of
that Bird, jabs and run-ons and then a melodic line
flits in again;

outside, the sun: dog on a leash,
finches galore stab at seeds,
everyone wonders
what else is there?

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Havana Vibes

A conga player collides with “Pork-Pie
Hat,” the woman vibist fists two mallets,
follows bandmates into a driving, propulsive sound—
her stance languid, lanky, her long arms made moreso
as she stares into the music, now a Cuban bounce
thick like picadillo with piano and drums one on top of the other,
her mallets fly above like lightning bugs in the night.

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Sean Howard

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Keynote

I dreamt I met
John Coltrane: lunch-

break of a Conference,
Life of a Legacy. Due

to ‘speak’ that after-
noon, catch a flight

home

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M.G. Stephens

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The Death of Charlie Parker

…………….(August 29, 1920—March 12, 1955)

Charlie “Bird” Parker would be 100
Today, but instead he died at the age

Of 34, described by the doctors
In the hospital where he was taken

As an elderly Black man, as if he
Were a mere mortal like the rest of us.

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Michel Krug

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Sliver

The debutante moon drifts across the November night
The slim branches making cymbals of the wind
Like the pianissimo portion of Weather Report’s Birdland.
A sixteenth kindling of the new month
Her sliver like a stiletto heel, calf tapping
Movement, so subtle, only you feel it.

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Red Clay 

There’s little to say when a coda is
cut off while playing through traffic
In the mess of beeps where love fades
Into the Red Clay where you have to
Innovative your way out of
what was becoming a melody past,
like a record with scratches.

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Hot Scat 

Must have been the 11th time I played
This Masquerade cruising down the
Catoctin Mountains in Frederick County
not appreciating the loneliness
but feeling the hot scat sun on my arms
and the excitement of this new Benson
sound driving me 1000 miles to Baltimore.

 

 

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by Russell duPont

 

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Molly Larson Cook

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Three Short Poems For Lady Day

1.
In the beginning was the song,
and the song was Billie.
The sweet moan, the catch in her throat,
the sound of sixty-dollar Scotch straight up
and no ice.

2.
Billie put a spin on “I Cover the Waterfront”
that makes you want to head for the nearest dock,
even in a place
where there’s damned little water,
let alone a waterfront to cover.

3.
Billie was born under the sign of Aries
with a Neptune keynote.
Fire and water. Sizzle. Everything she sang had sizzle.
Sweet tunes, sad tunes, the heat was in them
scorching the soft and sorrowful edges of her sound.

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Arlene Corwin

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Seven Lines (In Which To Persuade)

What to say in seven lines,
No tricks, concise, succinct and pithy;
Stronger by its brevity.

Sounds not dressed up to the nines;
Fresh and new, pretty too,
This cool and silky jazz of mine.
To tell you jazz is doing fine!

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Dayna Genevieve

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like Charlie Parker
sloping fingertips give way
flying time has come

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jazz harmonica
dips french fries in mayonnaise
Dutchman’s name is Toots

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Catherine Lee

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if you can

come aboard,
ride Blue Trane
locomotion

hang on
you’ll get ideas
to fit their music notions
derived from spirit, soul

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Trading Eights 

together as band mates
fleeting music moments
endure as supported soloing
until this measured time
reaches clocked completion

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Judith Vaughn

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Three Wishes
……….An Intimate Look at Three Jazz Greats, Pannonica de Koenignwarter

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Nica 
……….In honor of Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter

She was a queen; all shades, all hues, all blues; the sea, the sky, and jazz.
Her Bentley a starship for blue/black light swirling drumbeats on hearts,
syncopated horns dancing tap on black and white keys.

Listen

all them jazz cats had dreams, more than music. They lived with other mortals
grounded on earth. Dream catcher opened her hands, caught their holy grails.

Listened.

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Monk at the Cat House 
……….To have a crazy friend like you.  Three Wishes

Monk didn’t live in a monastery, that place never revealed. Lost his cabaret card in a down south fracas, but not his way, salvaged in ’57. Found life again with a quartet gathered on another planet, sent their tunes down from the moon, where he longed to live in real time.

The Cat House, a sanctuary for fine spirits, a final resting place. Music and grief his for-ever friends. Monk a refugee of thin light, sat in the coming fullness, found his forever way as the stars turned into a map. A master of space and time, he soared.

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Miles 
……….To be white, Three Wishes

Tongue in cheek Miles, always cheeky, observant to a fault. He meant it. No cracker
policeman knocking him into a door, no jail cell for existing. Though he lived the good life; came from means, mother father love. Renowned. A genius. An innovator.

Blew the sweetest horn since Clifford took that last ride on a rain slicked highway. More than once Mile’s notes fell on my skin, awash with life, longing; smoke filled clubs. His gravel voice cracking. A friend told me Miles said he heard music in the dial tone.
Though now that he wanders the outer world playing “So What”, it’s just here-say.

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Frank Gant
……….To Be the Monkey’s Paw*. Three Wishes

He drummed with all the greats, Miles, Garland, Holiday, to name a few. His eyes
the color of dark magic. His voice the sound of a door opening to unfamiliar things.
His walk full of spark and joy dancing in silences between the notes.

The Monkey’s Paw, the real giver of wishes. Tempting fate, a fakir’s spell echoed his beating drum. Repercussions all around. His eyes, the color of dark magic, blind to tragedies on the horizon, his life’s end manacled by illness. Give up your sadness;
he’s with the others now in the outer world, still dancing, untroubled.

*A gift given by a fakir (ascetic) who cast a spell on a mummified monkey paw giving three wishes.

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Sketches of Spain 

Yesterday:
Water color blue on white paper; ships slip through my fingers holding the paint brush. Miles, Coltrane, Evans fill the room; each jazz riff falls to the floor, colors the sea with images waiting to sail. The cat’s tail twitches back and forth; he chirps a tune in tandem.

Today:
Small brown birds sit on a tree outside, heads cocked, listening to Sketches, to my memories, playing on the stereo. There’s a cat here as well, time traveling from a girl’s room in the suburbs seeing the vast world open its hands.

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Listen to the 1971 recording of Thelonious Monk playing “Crepuscule With Nellie” 

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Jerrice J. Baptiste

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Love Is A Thing So They Say

Heart at ache.
Your song in flight reaching beyond
my dim lit room. Each breath saturates air.

I heard the sorrowful red hummingbird at dusk.
It too flew in sky again that love should be there.

You, me, and bird, no purpose of tears.
For whatever each night may bloom.

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Trinidad, 1985

Soukous yeah! Soukous!
She sings for her audience.

How come I don’t have a full house tonight?
Her question unanswered. She repeats it.

Mountains they won’t move. No, they won’t.
I sing just to know that I’m alive!
Rhythm, piano, no jive.

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Please, Don’ t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Fretful soul,
afraid of being tasted then discarded
after breaking vows.

She turns her face to her lord,
asking forgiveness of sins
under her skin.

Finding light in angels’ wings.

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Martha Patterson

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Boots Like the ’50s

My patent leather winter boots
(In black, naturally)
Remind me of Bill Evans’s
Piano in the ‘50s…

Don’t know why, exactly –
Maybe it’s their smooth and
Shiny, oh-so-tasteful look!

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CJ Muchhala

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Preservation Hall, New Orleans, 1964
…..(for Sweet Emma Barrett)

red-capped springy curls
………….jingle bells jangling
innuendos sung with a
………….toothy grin & agile fingers
pounding those keys

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First Apartment, A New Album, 1968
…..(for Louis Armstrong)

trumpet notes melt
………….to a trickle
guttural words
………….a wonderful world
indeed

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Bombay Bicycle Club, Milwaukee, 1974
…..(for Buddy Montgomery)

cool ivories
………….swing
into soulful
………….reflections
dive deep

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Anthony Ward

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The old jazz standards
With that echo down the hall sound
Takes me back to before I was born
Remembering times I never had
But know all the same

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Jazz is the soundtrack of night
The nocturnal music
Where midnight is midday
The atmosphere shadowed by shades of blue
Backlit with smoke traversing the air
Providing atmosphere in perpetual twilight

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Time Out
From typical 4/4
Dave Brubeck Quartet
Take five

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by Russell duPont

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Moe Seager

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Time and the River

Paris watching river traffic. Throughout my life I have found place and direction, stolen time slowed down, my very self culled, stoic, mercifully lost, to time and the river. the first movement of Spartacus, peeled petal and petal from the feather tongue and the kissing lips of Yusef Lateef.

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David Rudd

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Crepuscule with Nellie

The sun sinks. The moon rises. The porch is peaceful but for a muse-like
Mozzie, jarring, buzzing; or perhaps, just jazzing, keeping Monk from rest.
Nellie’s unperturbed. It’s just Monk who can’t unwind.
Up and down he treads, as though vamping on piano,
Chasing this mozzie through the keys
Until, moving in sixths, he hits the groove.
Though still hesitant, it helps him reach, some sort of, temporary … resolution.

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My hack pages

In my room, stoked on Parker and Monk, I’m reborn.
A ’sixties white boy, friends fuelled by Rolling Stones.
On the road with Kerouac and Cassady, I’m way cooler,
Digging – not the drippy hippies – but the hipper hipsters.
No air guitars for me. I finger Cherokee prestidigitatiously
On my unseen horn. The Jook Joint rocks to my rim shots
Till dawn … till, that is, Mum calls me down for tea.

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Bebopped

Johnny Dodds enters the stratosphere. I’m with him,
High over Perdido Street, savouring his blues.
Then Louis proclaims his West End anthem.
I feel the charge: it rises from spine to hair,
Like Bessie, sent to that ’lectric chair.

But with Bird, the world realigns,
Tunes are upended, melodies reassigned.

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Jim Mello

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Straight Ahead Jazz

Waiting for Straight Ahead Jazz to start
On the community radio station
To spark the juices

When the trumpet hits
the first few notes:
Poetry ignites

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Superjazzman

Warp speed trumpet notes
Accelerated breathless breaths

………….M o v I n g

Faster than a speeding bullet:
…………Superjazzman

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Snow Flakes

Outside
a few random snowflakes
…….float to the hard earth
not predicted I believe

Inside unpredictably
Miles chases after Voo Doo
…….wildly

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John Kendall Hawkins

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5 Jazz Poems

I.
from Mahler to Coltrane to hip hop
blues, there’s a soul in man that sings
(you don’t find that in a machine that thinks
it thinks), the birth of bebop
through Wagner’s circus rings —
music is working out our kinks.

Music, is, working out, Leon Spinks.

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II.
in the heart of mighty whitey Perth
I watched Miles up on the screen trumpet
Birth of the Cool
snug in deckchairs, wine by the side
smorgasbord of taster’s blues
the only dark known here is night

among the albino first nationals

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III.
Jarrett in Istanbul went off in some tangent
leaning in, intense and ticklesome
sipping Efes Pils, sitting beside a Yorkshire lad,
I drifted into Belonging, The Wind Up
and remembered a friend from the conservatory
in Boston, who’d tuned his Steinway at the Hall

we got hammered, Top of the Hub, rotating floor

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IV.
Mose Allison said it right
Everybody crying mercy
don’t know the meaning of the word
only life-form, in the middle of space
and we treat each other like turd
monsters telling us to keep our thoughts down

the world is trying to sleep

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V.
years ago in Boston outside an all-night jazz
happening at the Community Church
we stepped out for air and to smoke a bone
abstract notions still swirling in my ears
I high-dissociated, while my friend got robbed
by a Black man with a knife who liked his camera

the Pharoah Sanders riff gave me chills

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Bernard Saint

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M. D.

I thought I heard
Miles Davis say

‘Let white folk
Take the Blues

We sure had ‘em
Long enough’

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Click here  to read the artist and poet biographies

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Click here  to read the fall/winter 2022/23 collection of jazz poetry

Click here  to read the summer 2022 poetry collection

Click here  to read the spring 2022 collection of jazz poetry

 

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Click here  for information about how to submit your poetry

Click here  to subscribe to the quarterly  Jerry Jazz Musician newsletter

Click here to help support the ongoing publication of Jerry Jazz Musician (thank you!)

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4 comments on “A collection of short jazz poems – Vol. 1”

  1. Sir Joseph,

    Thanks for a fine collection of short poems. Many of these poets are new to me, and are most welcome discoveries.

  2. Joe, I’m so impressed by the poems, the poets and of course your idea to feature short verse. By all means burn away those peripherals.

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In This Issue

"Nina" by Marsha Hammel
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Winter, 2024 Edition...One-third of the Winter, 2024 collection of jazz poetry is made up of poets who have only come to my attention since the publication of the Summer, 2023 collection. What this says about jazz music and jazz poetry – and this community – is that the connection between the two art forms is inspirational and enduring, and that poets are finding a place for their voice within the pages of this website. (Featuring the art of Marsha Hammel)

The Sunday Poem

photo via RawPixel.com
“Style” by Laurie Kuntz

Poetry

Proceeding From Behind: A collection of poems grounded in the rhythmic, relating to the remarkable, by Terrance Underwood...A relaxed, familiar comfort emerges from the poet Terrance Underwood’s language of intellectual acuity, wit, and space – a feeling similar to one gets while listening to Monk, or Jamal, or Miles. I have long wanted to share his gifts as a poet on an expanded platform, and this 33-poem collection – woven among his audio readings, music he considers significant to his story, and brief personal comments – fulfills my desire to do so.

Black History

The Harlem Globetrotters/photo via Wikimedia Commons
A Black History Month Profile: The Harlem Globetrotters...In this 2005 interview, Ben Green, author of Spinning the Globe: The Rise, Fall, and Return to Greatness of the Harlem Globetrotters, discusses the complex history of the celebrated Black touring basketball team.

Black History

photo of Zora Neale Hurston by Carl Van Vechten/Library of Congress
A Black History Month Profile: Zora Neale Hurston...In a 2002 interview, Carla Kaplan, editor of Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters, talks about the novelist, anthropologist, playwright, folklorist, essayist and poet

Black History

Eubie Blake
A Black History Month Profile – Pianist and composer Eubie Blake...In this 2021 Jerry Jazz Musician interview, Eubie Blake biographers Ken Bloom and Richard Carlin discuss the legendary composer of American popular song and jazz during the 20th century

Feature

Jamie Branch's 2023 album "Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))"
On the Turntable— The “Best Of the ‘Best Of’” in 2023 jazz recordings...A year-end compilation of jazz albums oft mentioned by a wide range of critics as being the best of 2023 - including the late trumpeter Jamie Branch's Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war))

Essay

"Lester Leaps In" by Tad Richards
"Jazz and American Poetry," an essay by Tad Richards...In an essay that first appeared in the Greenwood Encyclopedia of American Poetry in 2005, Tad Richards - a prolific visual artist, poet, novelist, and nonfiction writer who has been active for over four decades – writes about the history of the connection of jazz and American poetry.

Interview

photo of Pepper Adams/courtesy of Pepper Adams Estate
Interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer...The author speaks with Bob Hecht about his book and his decades-long dedication to the genius of Pepper Adams, the stellar baritone saxophonist whose hard-swinging bebop style inspired many of the top-tier modern baritone players.

Interview

IISG, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Interview with Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song...The author discusses her book, a rich, emotionally stirring, exceptional work that explores every element of Ella’s legacy in great depth, reminding readers that she was not only a great singing artist, but also a musical visionary and social activist.

Poetry

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole is an occasional series of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film. This edition is influenced by Stillpoint, the 2021 album by Zen practitioner Barrett Martin

Playlist

“Latin Tinges in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...A nine-hour long Spotify playlist featuring songs by the likes of Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Ahmad Jamal, and Dizzy Gillespie that demonstrates how the Latin music influence on jazz has been present since the music’s beginnings.

Poetry

[Columbia Legacy]
“On Becoming A Jazz Fanatic In The Early 1970’s” – 20 linked short poems by Daniel Brown

Short Fiction

Christerajet, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #64 — “The Old Casino” by J.B. Marlow...The author's award-winning story takes place over the course of a young man's life, looking at all the women he's loved and how the presence of a derelict building informs those relationships.

Feature

George Shearing/Associated Booking Corporation/James Kriegsmann, New York, via Wikimedia Commons
True Jazz Stories: “An Evening With George,” by Terry Sanville...The writer tells his story of playing guitar with a symphony orchestra, backing up jazz legend George Shearing.

Short Fiction

Defense Visual Information Distribution Service/via Picryl.com
“Afloat” – a finalist in the 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest – is about a troubled man in his 40s who lessens his worries by envisioning himself and loved ones on a boat that provides safety and ease for all of them.

Poetry

The poet Connie Johnson in 1981
In a Place of Dreams: Connie Johnson’s album of jazz poetry, music, and life stories...A collection of the remarkable poet's work is woven among her audio readings, a personal narrative of her journey and music she considers significant to it, providing readers the chance to experience the full value of her gifts.

Book Excerpt

Book Excerpt from Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song, by Judith Tick...The author writes about highlights of Ella’s career, and how the significance of her Song Book recordings is an example of her “becoming” Ella.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII

Interview

photo courtesy of Henry Threadgill
Interview with Brent Hayes Edwards, co-author (with Henry Threadgill) of Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music...The author discusses his work co-written with Threadgill, the composer and multi-instrumentalist widely recognized as one of the most original and innovative voices in contemporary music, and the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Poetry

art by Russell duPont
Three jazz poets…three jazz poems...Takes on love and loss, and memories of Lady Day, Prez, Ella, Louis, Dolphy and others…

Playlist

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
“A Baker’s Dozen Playlist of Ella Fitzgerald Specialties from Five Decades,” as selected by Ella biographer Judith Tick...Chosen from Ella’s entire repertoire, Ms. Tick’s intriguing playlist (with brief commentary) is a mix of studio recordings, live dates, and video, all available for listening here.

Poetry

"Jazz Trio" by Samuel Dixon
A collection of jazz haiku, Vol. 2...The 19 poets included in this collection effectively share their reverence for jazz music and its culture with passion and brevity.

Jazz History Quiz #169

This trumpeter was in the 1932 car accident that took the life of famed clarinetist/saxophonist Frankie Techemacher (pictured), and is best remembered for his work with Eddie Condon’s bands. Who was he?

Interview

From the Interview Archive: A 2011 conversation with Alyn Shipton, author of Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway...In this interview, Shipton discusses Cab Calloway, whose vocal theatrics and flamboyant stage presence made him one of the country’s most beloved entertainers.

Community

Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII...announcing the six Jerry Jazz Musician-published writers nominated for the prestigious literary award

Poetry

Gotfryd, Bernard, photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Devotion” – a poem and 11 “Musings on Monk,” by Connie Johnson

Photography

photo of Mal Waldron by Giovanni Piesco
Beginning in 1990, the noted photographer Giovanni Piesco began taking backstage photographs of many of the great musicians who played in Amsterdam’s Bimhuis, that city’s main jazz venue which is considered one of the finest in the world. Jerry Jazz Musician will occasionally publish portraits of jazz musicians that Giovanni has taken over the years. This edition is of the pianist/composer Mal Waldron, taken on three separate appearances at Bimhuis (1996, 2000 and 2001).

Interview

Leffler, Warren K/Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
A Black History Month Profile: Civil Rights Leader Bayard Rustin...

Community

FOTO:FORTEPAN / Kölcsey Ferenc Dunakeszi Városi Könyvtár / Petanovics fényképek, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
.“Community Bookshelf, #1"...a twice-yearly space where writers who have been published on Jerry Jazz Musician can share news about their recently authored books. This edition includes information about books published within the last six months or so…

Short Fiction

photo by Pedro Coelho/Deviant Art/CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 DEED
“After The Death of Margaret: A True Novella” by S. Stephanie...This story -- a finalist in our recently concluded 64th Short Fiction Contest -- harkens back to Richard Brautigan's fiction of the '70s, and explores modern day co-worker relationships/friendship and the politics of for profit "Universities"

Short Fiction

painting of Gaetano Donizetti by Francesco Coghetti/via Wikimedia Commons
“A Single Furtive Tear” – a short story by Dora Emma Esze...A short-listed entry in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, the story is a heartfelt, grateful monologue to one Italian composer, dead and immortal of course, whose oeuvre means so much to so many of us.

Interview

photo by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950’s Quartets...Long regarded as jazz music’s most eminent baritone saxophonist, Gerry Mulligan was a central figure in “cool” jazz whose contributions to it also included his important work as a composer and arranger. Noted jazz scholar Alyn Shipton, author of The Gerry Mulligan 1950s Quartets, and Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht discuss Mulligan’s unique contributions to modern jazz.

Book Excerpt

“Chick” Webb was one of the first virtuoso drummers in jazz and an innovative bandleader dubbed the “Savoy King,” who reigned at Harlem’s world-famous Savoy Ballroom. Stephanie Stein Crease is the first to fully tell Webb’s story in her biography, Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat that Changed America…The book’s entire introduction is excerpted here.

Short Fiction

pixabay.com via Picryl.com
“The Silent Type,” a short story by Tom Funk...The story, a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Short Fiction Contest, is inspired by the classic Bob Dylan song “Tangled Up in Blue” which speculates about what might have been the back story to the song.

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Easily Slip Into Another World: A Life in Music, by Henry Threadgill and Brent Hayes Edwards

Contributing Writers

Click the image to view the writers, poets and artists whose work has been published on Jerry Jazz Musician, and find links to their work

Art

Designed for Dancing: How Midcentury Records Taught America to Dance: “Outtakes” — Vol. 2...In this edition, the authors Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder share examples of Cha Cha Cha record album covers that didn't make the final cut in their book

Pressed for All Time

“Pressed For All Time,” Vol. 17 — producer Joel Dorn on Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 1967 album, The Inflated Tear

Coming Soon

An interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 - 1960;  an interview with Laura Flam and Emily Sieu Liebowitz, authors of But Will You Love Me Tomorrow? An Oral History of the 60's Girl Groups;  a new collection of jazz poetry; a collection of jazz haiku; a new Jazz History Quiz; short fiction; poetry; photography; interviews; playlists; and lots more in the works...

Interview Archive

Eubie Blake
Click to view the complete 22 year archive of Jerry Jazz Musician interviews, including those recently published with Richard Carlin and Ken Bloom on Eubie Blake (pictured); Richard Brent Turner on jazz and Islam; Alyn Shipton on the art of jazz; Shawn Levy on the original queens of standup comedy; Travis Atria on the expatriate trumpeter Arthur Briggs; Kitt Shapiro on her life with her mother, Eartha Kitt; Will Friedwald on Nat King Cole; Wayne Enstice on the drummer Dottie Dodgion; the drummer Joe La Barbera on Bill Evans; Philip Clark on Dave Brubeck; Nicholas Buccola on James Baldwin and William F. Buckley; Ricky Riccardi on Louis Armstrong; Dan Morgenstern and Christian Sands on Erroll Garner; Maria Golia on Ornette Coleman.

Site Archive