“Green Street” – a poem by George Kalamaras

December 8th, 2023



The cover to Grant Green’s 1962 album Nigeria [Universal Music Group]





Green Street
…..for Grant Green

How can somebody so blue, Grant, be named
…….Green? How can the ocean current

and its waves? Simple. Immediate. Each note comes
…….from you slow as underwater speech. Say

a fish tank and pufferfish hugging the glass. Imagine
…….being trapped. Gravel pumped through the gills

of centuries we have loved forever
…….and have been. You are past and present

at once. I love your smooth, your
…….groove, your gritty waves of guitar as they bend

toward me and through. It is so. Has always
…….been so. Yet It Ain’t Necessarily So, my all-time

favorite cut of yours. You burn, Grant, with Sonny Clark,
…….Sam Jones, and Blakey. Ten minutes, twenty seconds

into which I forever fall through mud-depths
…….of the sea. How can the world have gone on in its deep

forgetting of you? The way you not only led sets like this
…….but also backed others, bolstering some of the best

sides I dig. I can’t imagine the knotted ropes
…….of love braided together in George Braith’s

Extension without you. Or Lee Morgan’s wandering
…….riffs in his Search for a New Land. Or your wood-burning

sets, say, with Jimmy Forrest and Elvin Jones. Hank Mobley.
…….Ike Quebec. Stanley Turrentine. Larry Young. McCoy.

You greened the streets with your groove. That punchy, biting
…….tone. Turning off the bass and treble of your amp, magnifying

the midrange. Your Gibson ES-330. Your L7. Your Epiphone
…….Emperor with its princely tone. Where are they now,

and what of your long, strong fingers, Grant, longing
…….to stroke any simple thing—even a blowing branch—

in Greenwood Cemetery back home in St. Louis?
…….Have they dropped to dust? Have they ached to ash?

What did you gift us? Grant us? And how did we bite back,
…….unknowingly, that led you to the needle and spoon?

How can the color wheel? How can someone so blue?
…….How can any missing word urge us back into a sad

sadder than you? How can your simple, immediate notes
…….come slow as still growth? Still, even among trees

whose leafy green shades your cemetery
…….stone? You are past and past and presently

forever yet clear as underwater speech.
…….As mud-muck gone clear. As the slow motion

of hand movements that say, Come here, come
…….here; place your ear to this still-bell shell

of my body, this rain-soaked place, this sound
…….from which such depths still ache.






photo by Jim Whitcraft

George Kalamaras is former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014– 2016) and Professor Emeritus at Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he taught for thirty-two years. He has published twenty-three collections of poetry, fourteen full-length books and nine chapbooks. His latest book is To Sleep in the Horse’s Belly: My Greek Poets and the Aegean Inside Me, a 300-page chronicle of George’s Greek ancestry—literary, artistic, and familial (Dos Madres Press, 2023).



Listen to the 1962 recording of Grant Green performing George and Ira Gershwin’s composition “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” with Sonny Clark (piano); Sam Jones (bass); and Art Blakey (drums). [Universal Music Group]






Click here to read The Sunday Poem

Click here to read “A Collection of Jazz Poetry – Summer, 2023 Edition”

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 by Bekzat Tasmagambetov/via Pexels
"The Lady Sings" - by Michael Keshigian

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.

Book Excerpt

An excerpt from Emily Jon Tobias’ MONARCH: Stories, and a reflection on our friendship


photo of Archie Shepp by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Archie Shepp...photos of the legendary saxophonist (and his rhythm section for the evening), taken at Amsterdam's Bimhuis on May 13, 2001.


The cover to Joni Mitchell's 1976 album Hejira [Asylum]; photo by Norman Seeff
“Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada” – a poem (for Joni Mitchell) by Juan Mobili

Click here to read more poetry published in Jerry Jazz Musician

Calling All Poets!

News about a Jerry Jazz Musician printed jazz poetry anthology, and information about submitting your poetry for consideration

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.


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

In Memoriam

Hans Bernhard (Schnobby), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Remembering Joe Pass: Versatile Jazz Guitar Virtuoso” – by Kenneth Parsons...On the 30th anniversary of the guitarist Joe Pass’ death, Kenneth Parsons reminds readers of his brilliant career

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 #172

photo of Teddy Wilson by William Gottlieb
Teddy Wilson once said this about a fellow jazz pianist:

“That man had the most phenomenal musical gifts I’ve ever heard. He was miraculous. It’s like someone hitting a home run every time he picks up a bat. We became such fast friends that I was allowed to interrupt him anytime he was playing at the house parties in Toledo we used to make every night. When I asked him, he would stop and replay a passage very slowly, showing me the fingering on some of those runs of his. You just couldn’t figure them out by ear at the tempo he played them.”

Who is the pianist he is describing?


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