Poetry by Roger Singer

May 26th, 2013





Over them, absorbed within them,
was the cloak of song,
their curtained driving souls; a silver green
reflecting glass of running fingers
and wide smiles, breaking barriers down;
these were the “mens” of jazz.

Warm nights and lazy fat breezes
push the music hard to the under surface
of heaven;
high heels and stockings bless the earth

Rusted wrought iron gates. Long windows,
naked of shades. A black cat owns
the paths within shadows. A green cheese moon
winks silver onto cobblestone streets,
as the “mens” keep then beat.



The confluence of river bottom
and blue ocean
bedded equally
in turbulent silent currents.
Rich warming mud and the salt of man
became the engine pulsing
of a crescent city.

Late lights in Storyville whispered lust;
Magnolia burned fragrances into the
cloth of jazz.

The Eureka band stirred the dead,
raising dust; eternal rest sleeps above
ground, absent of snakes.

Horns blow night into dark.
Shadows prevail beneath masks of delight.





There was a lightness in is hands.
The rhythm of his walk set
correct the stride for others.
His voice created a wave of motion,
forcing bookends to release their

His sound weakened church bells
honoring heaven; patient hands
sooth away deep lines on troubled faces.
His jazz filled corners, freeing
dust into new adventures.

His silence released strength;
words circled near the surface
of his reach.
His listening was a rich garden
where friend’s grew.




Others punish the air, kicking it about,
filling corners with unfulfilled oaths,
speaking names of the dead,
cursing the living.
Unlike the bitter crust of them,
she pulls the air to her
like a beach welcoming a wave
or a child surrendering to sleep.
Once inside her, the air expands
into a brilliant glory of being found,
roaming freely in the halls of her beauty;
the depth of an earthly heaven.
From corners shadows resign.
Streams of hope fill spirits of loss.
Her air brought change to the jazz.



Disorder, like a carpet of snakes,
hissed and twisted at alligator
shoes with a lustful snapping
thirst. Sweaty satin faces lathered
under selfish low beating lights
holding back on its brightness,
encouraging darkness and sins.
Warnings of heat drive fast in
rivers of dance, feeding tight empty
stomachs full of greed. The pull of jazz
is a flattering spirit of air,
deepening the wrinkles of life.
Hands dance above heads, lightened
by a sway of seaweed flesh.
A sweet beating of the insides
rises from the musicians, releasing
hard black recipes onto a
midnight moon spreading fat.





The crowd, a mass of willing flesh,
absorb the fire of his sound.
Their greed is unsatisfied, unquenched,
burning with the blood of dance;
it warms cool air.

The man with great voice tastes his words,
releasing thoughts from corners and
shadows, spreading the jazz, bandaging
the hurt in the crowd.

Passionate flames of night drip like
frontons weeping from a days passing sun,
as hands gather the mood of night
into a basket full of fallen stars.

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