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

April 10th, 2024



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

Albert Ayler






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

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”

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

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

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”








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




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]






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!)





Jerry Jazz Musician…human produced (and AI-free) since 1999




Share this:

Comment on this article:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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
“Crossing Over” by CJ Muchhala

Click here to read previous editions of The Sunday Poem


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.


The Marvelettes/via Wikimedia Commons
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...Little is known of the lives and challenges many of the young Black women who made up the Girl Groups of the ‘60’s faced while performing during an era rife with racism, sexism, and music industry corruption. The authors discuss their book’s mission to provide the artists an opportunity to voice their experiences so crucial to the evolution of popular music.

Short Fiction

Short Fiction Contest-winning story #65 — “Ballad” by Lúcia Leão...The author’s award-winning story is about the power of connections – between father and child, music and art, and the past, present and future.

Click here to read more short fiction published on Jerry Jazz Musician


photo of Louis Jordan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Interview with Tad Richards, author of Jazz With a Beat: Small Group Swing, 1940 – 1960...Richards makes the case that small group swing players like Illinois Jacquet, Louis Jordan (pictured) and Big Jay McNeely played a legitimate jazz that was a more pleasing listening experience to the Black community than the bebop of Parker, Dizzy, and Monk. It is a fascinating era, filled with major figures and events, and centered on a rigorous debate that continues to this day – is small group swing “real jazz?”


Sonny Rollins' 1957 pianoless trio recording "Way Out West"
“The Pianoless Tradition in Modern Jazz” – a playlist by Bob Hecht...an extensive playlist built around examples of prominent pianoless modern jazz.


The 1987 Mosaic Records collection of The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Herbie Nichols
“Thinking of Herbie” – a poem by Daniel W. Brown

Click here to read more poetry published on Jerry Jazz Musician


Excerpts from David Rife’s Jazz Fiction: Take Two – (Vol. 1)...A substantial number of novels and stories with jazz music as a component of the story have been published over the years, and the scholar David J. Rife has written short essay/reviews of them.  In this initial edition featuring his story essays/reviews, Rife writes about three novels that explore challenges of the mother/daughter relationship.

Trading Fours with Douglas Cole

The cover of Wayne Shorter's 2018 Blue Note album "Emanon"
Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 20: “Notes on Genius...This edition of the writer’s poetic interpretations of jazz recordings and film is written in response to the music of Wayne Shorter.

Click here to read previous editions of Trading Fours with Douglas Cole


Jason Innocent, on “3”, Abdullah Ibrahim’s latest album... Album reviews are rarely published on Jerry Jazz Musician, but Jason Innocent’s experience with the pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s new recording captures the essence of this artist’s creative brilliance.

Book Excerpt

Book excerpt from Jazz with a Beat: Small Group Swing 1940 – 1960, by Tad Richards

Click here to read more book excerpts published on Jerry Jazz Musician


painting by Vaino Kunnas
Jazz…in eight poems...A myriad of styles and experiences displayed in eight thoughtful, provocative poems…

Jazz History Quiz #171

Dick Cavett/via Wikimedia Commons
In addition to being one of the greatest musicians of his generation, this Ohio native was an activist, leading “Jazz and People’s Movement,” a group formed in the late 1960’s who “adopted the tactic of interrupting tapings and broadcasts of television and radio programs (i.e. the shows of Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett [pictured] and Merv Griffin) in protest of the small number of Black musicians employed by networks and recording studios.” Who was he?

Click here to visit the Jazz History Quiz archive


photo via Picryl.com
.“Community Bookshelf, #2"...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…

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

Coming Soon

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