Poetry by Michael Keshigian

April 1st, 2013

SATIN SATURDAY NIGHT

Thankfully, there’s a day
in each week
to fold away the toil,
set the table
with champagne and friends
at the jazz pub
below the street,

and let the smooth satin sound
of a saxophone melody
transform tired blood
into a sparkling flow
of toe-tapping, hip-swaying
funky, mellow music
as the bubbly tickles your nose,

and you move,
cheek to cheek,
one man, one woman,
no space between,
no tension,
just a stroke of magic
in the measures of a tune
to dance away the week.

CLARINET LESSON

This morning
I found the clarinet in a deep sleep
on the far end of the couch,
so I borrowed his black outerwear
designed with silver buttons
and placed it over my shoulders
to protect me from the cold
as I jogged into town
for my daily routine.
I figured he wouldn’t mind,
especially after we spent
so many hours the night before
in a jazz duet.
It was unexpected then,
upon my return
all covered in snow
with sweat frozen to my brow,
to find him angered,
his metal skeleton inflamed.
He seized his coat,
rummaged through the pockets,
and checked each little hole
to make sure no notes
from Eddie Daniels’ Blackwood
or Benny Goodman’s vivacious version
of Sing Sing Sing
had fallen into the deep snow,
lost forever,
especially those hidden
in the extreme upper range
which have a propensity to fall off
in the flailing wind.

MUSIC APPRECIATION

He asked them
to take the music outside,
listen as they held it toward the sky,
let the wind rattle its stems,
or place the sheet against an ear
to hear a tune
through the hollow of its shell.
He told them to jog
the parameters of the staves,
walk the winding road of its clef
and imagine living there.
Perhaps they could drop a feather
upon the music’s resonance,
follow its float among the timbres,
or ski the slopes of musical peaks,
gliding unencumbered into its valleys,
then thank the composer
for varying the landscape
when they left the lodge.
But the class was determined
to stalk each phrase,
analyze chords for manipulation, cunning
and seek the hidden form.
They handcuffed the notes
to the music stand,
even flogged the melody
with a drum mallet,
until it whistled a meaning never intended.

LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT

In college, he elected jazz
as a language,
dropped French so he could learn
that chops meant
playing the sax like Paul Desmond,
creating a sound,
resembling a golden hue
that only the angels
might duplicate,
carried so high
it might be heaven,
though he could sense
Desmond’s fingers
moving with elegance,
ballroom dancing on the keys.
He later learned
that Desmond played
in various modes.
They were not clubs
or bars he could frequent,
though the modes
were most often located in bars.
He found out
that Mel Torme had pipes,
beyond a collection of meerschaum,
an ability to sing songs
and scat like no one heard before
without ever leaving the stage.
Could say he also had chops,
but with singers it was different
because with one set of pipes
he created a timbre all by himself,
a degree of contrast as varied
as timber in the forest.

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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)

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"The Lady Sings" - by Michael Keshigian

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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.

Interview

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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.

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Calling All Poets!

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pickpik.com
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“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.”

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