Eight poems from a new book by Michael L. Newell

May 25th, 2022

.

.

 

.

For many years I have had the privilege to publish selections of poetry submitted by Mr. Michael L. Newell.  The Florida-based poet has taught and lived all over the world, including Japan, The Philippine Islands, Thailand, Kuwait, Mexico, Egypt, Estonia, Rwanda, and 13 American states, and his lifelong experiences influenced by these places, their people, and his diverse interests – including jazz music – show up in his reflective, genuine, sensitive work.  Michael takes in his world, and shares it.

The following poems appear in Michael’s new collection of poetry, Still the World Beckons: New and Selected Poems (cyberwit.net) which is now available on Amazon, among other places.

Please enjoy…

-Joe Maita
Editor/Publisher

.

.

_____

.

.

 

 

 

Just Your Basic Septuagenarian

He wakes, full of aches, to a new day, stumbles
off the couch where he sleeps more often than not,
grumbles all the way to the bathroom, a place
he visits far too often these days, leers, scowls,
and laughs at himself in the mirror, eventually
brushes his teeth where he is reminded how many

teeth have exited the playing field, wanders to his
computer to check news, e-mail, and read
a poem or essay or opinion rant by some other
old fart trying to find meaning in life’s ashes,
turns on “Sketches of Spain” and sits absolutely still
as its profound beauty fills his dwelling, music

that sweeps him along as the ocean might carry
a ship far beyond what mind can imagine;
he ends up standing by living room window
watching a slow rain wash autumn streets
empty of anything save bare branches, ruined
bushes, and one old couple (bundled up

in coats, scarves, kerchief, hat, and rubber boots)
who lean into one another as they weave
their arms together and raise their faces
to the rain as though being blessed by falling
water, passing clouds, and the one blade
of sunlight slicing through gray sky.

The man in the window finds himself humming
“Singing in the Rain,” surprises himself by launching
into a clumsy soft shoe, winces at pain in his knees,
discovers uproarious laughter, collapses into
the rickety rocking chair that is nearly as brittle
as he is, wonders why he is laughing, and laughs harder.

 

.

___

.

Jazz

sprawls
……….everywhere

girls fly through
……….jump rope routines
……….……….known for generations
yet
……….each lass
……….……….invents moves
shaped differently

……….all together create
……….……….a wilderness
……….………………..of hop skip leap jump
……….…………………………..steeped in tradition
……….……………………………………..yet new in subtle ways

b/ball players spend years
……….developing skills
……….……….some become artists
……….………………..who display amazing
……….…………………………..grace never before seen
which transforms the game
……….again and again
……….……….others have skill but no heart no insight
……….………………..some have limited skills yet unlimited heart

couples search for new ways
……….to dance the ballet tango waltz hip hop fandango of love
……….try to surpass what has been done for generations
……….……….aware they may fail but forever inspired

parents find fresh ways to make mistakes
……….then find ways to turn them
……….……….into acts of love that liberate

teacher scientist carpenter truck driver gardener salesman fool or genius
……….all learn things that must be done
……….……….yet ultimately fail are warped broken bent barren
……….………………..then reinvented renewed revived

as ragtime led to Dixieland which begat swing
……….which brought forth bop cool jazz hard bop free jazz and fusion
……….……….and an ever changing future filled with past present
………………………..and whatever is to come

jazz is life
……….forever failing
……….………forever striving
………………………..forever aware of possibility limitation
……….…………………………..and an eternal need to dare

 

.

___

.

 

Tribute to Modern Jazz Quartet

Softly as in a morning sunrise,
Milt Jackson and John Lewis
make pianos and vibes dance
through imagined morning dream,

bright and stormy; audience hears,
sees brilliant raindrops swiftly dance
on waves, and double bass
in Heath’s hands drives piano

and vibes in a wild, yet always
controlled dance; Connie Kay’s
drums control from start to finish
the group’s energy, drive, perpetual

life life life, a-swirl, a-blaze, and bass
is the heartbeat beat beat, as piano
and vibes explore what there is
in sky, water, land, and life, oh so lively

wild life which seeks more life, unquantifiable
life, and all sings, all swings, as the group climbs
musical stairs in search of the perfect sunrise,
the perfect morning, as they finally fade

into audience’s wild, ecstatic, uninhibited applause
which will also drift off, as clouds do, as life does.
Outside the sun seeps through, painting clouds
with rainbow; soon rain and clouds drift into distance.

 

.

___

.

Joe Williams At Newport ’63

“In the evening, in the evening, hey people, when the sun goes down,”
croons Joe Williams, “in the evening, hey people, when the sun goes down,
ain’t it lonesome, ain’t it lonesome, your baby’s
not around, when the sun goes down.”

Williams envelops the crowd with his smoky voice, as though they are all sitting
round a fire drinking, swaying to the music, as first Junior Mance’s piano
makes the world swing, then Zoot Sims turns the world into amazing
tenor sax celebrating life, love, and beauty — all are welcome, all are worthy;

ah, and now Howard McGhee makes his trumpet ring,
sing, and embrace the joys of life in a wild testament to love’s truth;
followed by Big Joe who comes back in, builds to an amazing falsetto
that celebrates the sun going down, and sends one and all

out to find the one who is loved, needed, essential. As the music
fades to silence, the audience detonates into sustained applause.

 

.

___

.

Breath Of The Blues

Wind inhabits a young man’s flute
and fills the world with music
of sunset’s somber beauty and
the sweep across autumn landscape
of leaves afloat with wild grace

similar to migrating butterflies;
the melody coaxes silence
from all who hear; an early
moon sails across hills on horizon,
as the world defines sorrow and grace

in fall of a leaf, in a naked branch,
in blood-soaked horizon, in wild dance
of children toward the world of grownups
where lies marriage of grief and joy, and a flute
lures tears and laughter as it breathes the blues.

 

.

___

.

If Only If Only If Only

full moon expands across midnight sky
as I stand motionless in silent worship
beneath a handful of pine trees

the moon’s brilliant gold impregnates night
in every direction
one imagines its color becoming sound

blessing all who are awake with soaring
tones of Clark Terry at his most eloquent
if only this moment had no limits

beauty never vanished music played
forever in all minds and hearts
and light always sang of possibility

 

.

___

.

 

Alone On A Night Street

Sailing through a midnight sky,
entangled in pine branches,
a golden full moon graces
the night with a beauty

comparable to a Bill Evans
or Duke Ellington solo,
nothing needed to expand
the floating vision;

the world is subtle, and repays
serious contemplation,
a lovely peace stripped
of life’s angst and anger;

the simple act of breathing
in and out is a form of prayer.

 

.

___

.

 

To Be Done By The Ocean Or In The Mountains 

After I am gone, friends will, I solemnly hope, tell stories
of my foibles, idiosyncracies, mind-boggling mistakes,
and avow that each exaggeration is no more than I would
have done if I were there telling the tale, and they will
be right, as only those who truly know someone can be right.

The tale of chasing a student up a flight of stairs and falling
on my face, ripping my best pair of suit pants, and the lad
almost in tears helping me to my feet–all true; the whopper,
or so some thought, where a colleague and myself convinced
a full grade of students that we were twins separated at birth,

is not only true, but done in two different schools with two
different bearded fellows of comparable girth to myself; getting lost
in my living room in Cairo is not only true but done more than once;
living a three minute walk from the Nile and not knowing it for six months
is both true and the definition of my sense of direction;

crossing the street through heavy traffic in Cairo by standing on
the upstream side of a group of veiled women and using them
as a shield is both fact and a definition of how I too often face life,
letting others shelter me from what is difficult or disturbing; although I don’t
drink, I invite whoever remembers me to lift a glass of wine, beer, orange juice,

or diet soda to laughter, foolishness, love of wit and language, to passion for
Celtic music, Beethoven, Bach, Coltrane, Miles Davis, Carolina Chocolate Drops, blues, reggae, music from the Andes, poetry of Shakespeare, Rilke, Machado, Li Po, prose of Jane Austen and Willa Cather, inspired silliness of James Thurber, and to an old man exuberantly, clumsily dancing in the rain

while loudly singing folk songs.

.

………………………………Kigali, Rwanda, September 2011

.

.

___

.

.

 

“Exploring themes connected to aging and disappointment, youth, and wonder, this volume of Michael L. Newell’s poetry immerses readers in the sensory world and celebrates life in its many forms. Whether depicting a  jig on the doorstep, a father kneeling beside his child to soothe his tears, or music’s ability to express what can’t be said, these poems connect us with ‘the startling moment /when we tumble off the world into silence,’ and life stretches us beyond what we understand or can grasp. As in other volumes, Newell’s poems explore the marvel of being alive despite the many uncertainties, and griefs that come our way. While acknowledging humanity’s finite limitations, readers are carried into nature’s expansive presence and boundless beauty as Newell can do so well. As he states,  ‘blessings come in many forms/often unexpected and unasked.’ The poems in this volume bless.”

–Anna Citrino, author of A Space Between

.

.

 

Michael L. Newell lives in Florida

.

.

___

.

.

Click here to learn how to submit your poetry

Click here for information about how to subscribe to the Jerry Jazz Musician newsletter

.

.

.

 

Share this:

One comments on “Eight poems from a new book by Michael L. Newell”

  1. Joe, Don’t forget Saudi Arabia…Sir Newell was there also, benefiting the community with his work!

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

"Zambramomania" by Roberto Nucci/CC BY-NC-SA-4.0 DEED
“The Eye Tapes…Monument to my Jazzy Eye” by Anita Lerek

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 Thomas Leuthard/Wikimedia Commons
“The Winslows Take New Orleans” a short story by Mary Liza Hartong...This story, a finalist in the recently concluded 64th Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, tells the tale of Uncle Cheapskate and Aunt Whiner, those pesky relatives you love to hate and hate to love.

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