“And I’m Not Even Here” – a poem by Connie Johnson

April 10th, 2024

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Photographer uncredited, but the photo was almost certainly taken by Chuck Stewart. Published by ABC/Impulse! Records.. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Albert Ayler

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And I’m Not Even Here

…………………….“Trane was the father.
…………………Pharoah was the son.
……………I was the Holy Ghost.”
……………………….– Albert Ayler

Cacophonous —
The honk, the blare of the tenor sax
And the scream! The guttural cry

Who are you, man…who are
You? “I’m nobody,” is my
Only reply

My Mother
My Father
Coltrane – my Benefactors
And My Brother Donald – the Trumpeter!
My collaborator / My spiritual blood

Avant-garde
Stream of consciousness
Furiously chaotic / polarizing
What you call: the New Thing
I call: “The New Blues”

Not like what I played
With Little Walter! A shattering
Of all perceptions; think of what Hendrix did
And then multiply it ….Something Different!!!!!!
In this new era of the ‘60s: Vietnam/Assassinations
Civil Rights / Black Radicalism: “I’m playing about the
beauty that’s going to come after the anxieties”

Non-Compliance
With the staid and the norm
Unacceptable! You label it: Free Jazz
A passing of the torch from Coltrane —
Pharoah Sanders, the astral / cerebral Son
And me…Albert Ayler —
The Holy Ghost

God in everything that I do
Religion, it never left me!
Never fitting the mold; a perennial
Outsider — raw / Impoverished / disruptive
Never a NYC jazz insider: “It’s not for me.
I stay off to myself”

Brother Donald
Discarded — in a bid for
More sales and accessibility?
The perception of that so jarring
Destructive! Who are we without that
Bond, that spiritual collaboration?

On the streets of NYC
For protection, I coat my face with
Vaseline; I don my fur coat and gloves
In the otherworldly, multiphonic
Summertime

Spiraling
Madness
Oh Mary, don’t you weep —
And how are you, man…
How are you? It’s what
You want to know as our
Paths cross at Slug’s
Saloon

The scream
The guttural cry
The Eternal Blues of the
East River — it beckons in
Life’s perplexing mystery;
And my only reply?

……………………“I’m / not
…………..even / here”

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Connie Johnson is a Los Angeles, California-based writer who has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has appeared or will be forthcoming in Iconoclast, Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, Jerry Jazz Musician, San Pedro River Review, Cholla Needles 85, Shot Glass Journal, Voicemail Poems, Misfit Magazine, Mudfish 23,, Exit 13, Glint Literary Journal, Rye Whiskey Review and Door Is a Jar.

Click here to read the Jerry Jazz Musician-published In a Place of Dreams: Connie Johnson’s album of jazz poetry, music, and life stories

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Albert Ayler plays “Vibrations” from his 1964 ESP album Spiritual Unity, an album the jazz writers Gary Giddins and Scott Deveaux describe as having been “both cheered and ridiculed,” and that Ayler’s sound “evoked lusty hysteria.”  [Naxos of America]

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Click here to read the Jerry Jazz Musician interview with Richard Koloda, author of Holy Ghost:  The Life & Death of Free Jazz Pioneer Albert Ayler

Click here to read The Sunday Poem

Click here to read “A Collection of Jazz Poetry – Winter, 2024 Edition”

Click here to read “The Old Casino,” J.B. Marlow’s winning story in the 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest

Click here for information about how to submit your poetry or short fiction

Click here to subscribe to the (free) Jerry Jazz Musician quarterly newsletter

Click here to help support the ongoing publication of Jerry Jazz Musician, and to keep it commercial-free (thank you!)

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In This Issue

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