Poetry by Roger Singer

May 26th, 2013



His arms were roots,
thirsty for water;
its color and taste indifferent
to his lust.

His hair boasted unruliness,
dry and odd shaped, like unkempt
fields leaning from wild winds.

He disconnected himself, inventing sounds
from tears
while his skin was sore
from long work and seeing empty plates
and passing rocks that waited for
dashing dreams.

He knew his place.
The top of jazz.



…and I say,
that Lombard Street
got the curves to knock
the straight out of my shoes,
echoing the hallway,
sounding on walls
cracked from
fast songs and babies crying,
in a city, under a heaven
where angels have gone south,
away from broken glass and
whiskey breath made of
sea foam and
cold summer winds,
raising a disturbance like cats
in garbage cans
and dogs growling at a
full cheese moon
as a car speeds by
breaking a puddle into
a thousand stars,
sending wet comets into a
gray sky night
where fog horns hold
the beat
and sidewalks
point the way
to where jazz
cuts wide the skin.



He lived from a
Broadway flat;
a soul with a sidestep,
a story with folded edges.

Inky eyes burn deep from coffee
as he
breathes fast with thought.

The sides of him
cut the songs to bleeding;
an air path of his music
parts the dust.

The banquet of jazz serves
his inspiration
to the back doors of alley’s
in cities whispering him.

His fingers are dirty with notes.



The music had change and stretch,
marching the sidewalks,
turning heels and heads,
twisting the jazz in into shadows
with snap and burning
where fingers speak a language of
black tar streets and perfume
rolls on the sweat of hands
born into the arms of people
stacked in apartments
that cook in summer
and buzz cold in winter
but none of it breaks
the hallway of faces
and low alley eyes staring
at back seat sleepers,
concrete yards, patched streets
and parking lot yards
where music is the
tissue connecting the
colors of skin in the city
that’s the capitol of
the world.



It’s a light calling.
A distant fire with interest
beckoning like
the child of a flat ocean,
innocent until roughened by winds
and stars without names
as the strength of the light reaches
pockets and fingers looking through
windows and past doors of hate,
over sidewalks to the other side
and into words that belong and build
under the light of river colors,
merging faces in streams
thick with the blood of sand and rocks
tumbling and flowing with rattle
like the marriage of cats and tin cans
as a harvest of sounds begins,
not great or bad but like roads joining
and skies touching,
a rising starts with fingers snapping
and sawdust sliding
as the music forms an altar of
irrepressible need and want,
building bridges with arms and legs
over anger and loss and the dust
of the sleeping
to a slow walking,
birthing the language of jazz
creating a skin of faces
speaking with sound,
baptizing the hands and words with
into the waters of this place.



The heat of her footsteps
raises my eyes and hands into
I greedily spill my breaths toward
the stage where the weakness of me
drowns without struggle.
A magnolia blossoms on the side of
her hair; a fragrance I own.
Her songs become the fiber of my shirt.
She raises the falling within me.
I am cooled from the breeze
of satin when she moves.
Her flavor spreads sweetly through
the microphone, seasoning the black
and tan, the old and once young,
the weary and searching.

The floor feels the weight she releases.
She is greater than us all.

Share this:

2 comments on “Poetry by Roger Singer”

  1. Roger has a feel for Jazz–the sound, the music, tempo and jargon. Each of his poems grind out the message in resounding tones. If he is not a Jazz aficionado (which I suspect he is), he has a knack for extracting the marrow from the music he hears!

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

Miles Davis "'Round About Midnight" (1957/Columbia Records)
“You Never Forget Your First” – by Brian Kates

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.

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