Poetry by Ronald Charles Epstein

June 9th, 2013


Unusual Departures

(I) Comfort Funeral Home

Johnny misses Mummy-
send in Ruffy
to offer canine solace.

Grandpa misses Grandma-
send in Bambi
to offer female comfort.

(II) Letterman Funeral Home

To comfort the mourners
waiting in the Green Room,
Dave will bring out Snuggles
from Lincoln, Nebraska
to perform his Stupid Pet Trick.
Afterward, Jack Hanna
will exhibit a coatimundi from the Columbus Zoo.

In the chapel,
Dave will list the Top Ten Reasons
why we miss Allen Russ,
then Tom Hanks will tell funny stories
about the dearly departed.



Did You Know?

Did you know…

that Dr. Spock
did not invent
the child-care book?

….that Henry Ford
did not invent
the passenger car?

…and Hugh Hefner
did not invent
the naked woman?




In the New, Old-Fashioned Way

“…in the new, old-fashioned way.”

Jennifer’s cellular ring tones
recall her mother’s Princess phone.
Jimmy surfs the Internet,
finds a Rat Pack website.

Intellectual Levels

Support advanced research,
neglect basic education.
Produce artificial intelligence
and real ignorance.



Three for Trois-Rivières


“Thank you for Being a Friend”,
(THE GOLDEN GIRLS’ main theme)
played out in its entirety,
down in central Trois-Rivières.
Don’t ask where, don’t ask why.

Menuet Oriental serves quail
favored by the wasps that sting.
Outside, the cosmopolitan man
turns into Mr. Bean.

Jeffrey poses for his mug shot
in the Old Prison Museum,
guilty of being carried away
tourism in the first degree.


Hole-in-the Wall


In downtown Detroit,
the “hole-in-the-wall” store
sells tacky lingerie.

Local pimps pass by,
prepare their Christmas lists.


A Snide Integrity

“You buy the premise,
you buy the bit.”

-Johnny Carson

Can you really trust
a restaurant named Popeye’s
that doesn’t feature spinach?

Will you view
the Nineties remake
or pass it by,
knowing David Janssen
was the only FUGITIVE?

Do you want
the black KOJAK?
A female McCloud?
Or wonder,
with snide integrity,
if Jim O’Hara,
will also return,
this time portrayed
by a female zebra.


Sociologist’s Jargon

Heed the professor
and “…try to say…
‘He is using a cop’s role,’
…rather than…’He is a cop.'”

I am not a poet,
I am using a poet’s role.
The professor is not a jackass,
he just uses the jackass role.

Creative Casting

Author: Eugene Fodor
Book: Fodor’s Europe 1970
Chapter: Great Britain

Characters: New York teacher
and London bus conductor.

Setting: Late 1960s,
London double-decker bus.

Teacher, “You are no gentleman…”
Driver, “I never said I was.”

Imagine Katharine Hepburn,
Hollywood immortal,
as the infuriated teacher
and Reg Varney,
driver “Stan” from On the Buses,
as the exasperated conductor


Huckleberry Hound Revealed

Viewing a children’s cartoon,
through your own adult eyes,
you watch Huckelberry Hound
cavort with Corny the Rooster,
mascot for Kellogg’s Corn Flakes.

Then the disillusion hits,
when you see your boyhood hero,
for the “sell-out” that he was.

TV Land Reality TV

Classic TV…
escape from reality.
TV Land…
escape from reality TV.

Reality TV program
comes to TV Land,
depressing those
who do not care
for John Doe
and Richard Roe
from Kokomo,
preferring Jed, Granny,
Elly Mae and Jethro.


The Boneless Cat

“…a boneless cat.”
-description of an unsuccessful “Peanuts” character

Charles Schultz,
creator of “Peanuts”,
added a cat
to his mix
of kids, dogs and birds.

It was worse than lame-
in more ways than one-
and simply vanished
after a few appearances.

We all keep our boneless cats
buried in our backyards.


The Network Talk Show Host

The network talk show host
labored ceaselessly,
making his job look easy.
becoming a TV fixture,
while on the air
and a cultural icon,
forever afterward.


Classic TV Co-Star


Classic ABC-TV:
starring John Astin as Dickens,
Marty Ingels as Fenster
with Henry Beckman as Mulligan.

Toronto, decades later.
I greet Henry Beckman.
He half-snarls back,
like an incoherent drunk.

Act like a mensch,
act like a schmuck,
To the Classic TV fan,
it still makes a good story.




Obsolete Assumptions


(I) The Lusty Prosties….

“The Lusty Prosties of Lazy Little Laos”- feature article in a 1960s men’s magazine.

The politically correct mind boggles,
multiplying a sense of entitlement
by arrogant expectations.

(II) ….of Lazy Little Laos

A self-serving cliché,
rendered obsolete
by the Communist regime
that rules that Asian state.


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A Letter From the Publisher

An appeal for contributions to support the ongoing publishing efforts of Jerry Jazz Musician

In This Issue

The Modern Jazz Quintet by Everett Spruill
A Collection of Jazz Poetry — Summer, 2023 Edition

A wide range of topics are found in this collection. Tributes are paid to Tony Bennett and Ahmad Jamal and to the abstract worlds of musicians like Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders; the complex lives of Chet Baker and Nina Simone are considered; devotions to Ellington and Basie are revealed; and personal solace is found in the music of Tommy Flanagan and Quartet West. These are poems of peace, reflection, time, venue and humor – all with jazz at their core. (Featuring the art of Everett Spruill)

The Sunday Poem

“Mirabella,” by Samuel Lind
“Queen” by Emily Jon Tobias


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.


Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII


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.


"Jazz Diva" by Marsha Hammel
A brief collection of poetry devoted to jazz…and love...Seven poets combine the music of jazz with an act of love…


photo of Bill Evans by Veryl Oakland
Six poets, six poems on Bill Evans...A poetic appreciation for the work of the legendary pianist


Joel Lewis
True Jazz Stories: “Well You Needn’t: My Life as a Jazz Fan” by Joel Lewis...The journalist and poet Joel Lewis shares his immensely colorful story of falling in love with jazz, and living with it and reporting on it during his younger days in New Jersey and New York


"The Dancer" by Elaine Croce Happnie
“The Dancer” – a poem by Zoya Gargova


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.


painting by Henry Denander
A collection of jazz haiku...This collection, featuring 22 poets, is an example of how much love, humor, sentimentality, reverence, joy and sorrow poets can fit into their haiku devoted to jazz.


Nominations for the Pushcart Prize XLVIII...Announcing the six writers nominated for the Pushcart Prize v. XLVIII, whose work was published in Jerry Jazz Musician during 2023.


photo of Sarah Vaughan by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
”Sarah” – a poem by Connie Johnson

Short Fiction

photo vi Wallpaper Flare
Short Fiction Contest-winning story #63 — “Company” by Anastasia Jill...Twenty-year-old Priscilla Habel lives with her wannabe flapper mother who remains stuck in the jazz age 40 years later. Life is monotonous and sad until Cil meets Willie Flasterstain, a beatnik lesbian who offers an escape from her mother's ever-imposing shadow.


photo of Anthony Braxton by Giovanni Piesco
The Photographs of Giovanni Piesco: Anthony Braxton...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 saxophonist Anthony Braxton, taken in January, 2015.


Chick Webb/photographer unknown
Interview with Stephanie Stein Crease, author of Rhythm Man: Chick Webb and the Beat That Changed America...The author talks about her book and Chick Webb, once at the center of America’s popular music, and among the most influential musicians in jazz history.


photo by Ric Brooks Knoxville, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
“Four Sides Live” – a poem by Justin Hare


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…


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“Zoot Suit Times (Rhythms From the Past)” – a poem by Oliver Lake


Trading Fours, with Douglas Cole, No. 17: “All I know about music is not many people ever really hear it”

Short Fiction

photo via joogleberry.com
“A Song and Dance Proposition” – a short story by Richard Moore...Because of his childhood experiences, the story’s narrator loses his singing voice and as an adult neither sings nor dances. But when his marriage falls apart he meets a ‘song and dance man’ who turns out to be Iris, a woman with multiple sclerosis. With her help, he comes to grip with his inhibitions.


photo by Bob Hecht
This 28-song Spotify playlist, curated by Jerry Jazz Musician contributing writer Bob Hecht, features great tunes performed by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Sarah Vaughan, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, Lester Young, Stan Getz, and…well, you get the idea.

Jazz History Quiz #168

photo of Coleman Hawkins by William Gottlieb/Library of Congress
Jazz History Quiz #168...In addition to being a top bassist between 1945 – 1960, he was the first major jazz soloist on the cello. He also played on Coleman Hawkins’ 1943 recording of “The Man I Love,” and appeared with Hawkins and Howard McGhee in the film The Crimson Canary. Who is he?

Short Fiction

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“Remember to Forget” – a short story by Amadea Tanner...Ms. Tanner's story, a finalist in the recently concluded 63rd Short Fiction Contest, is about a war correspondent's haunting revelations after she comes across musicians in a refugee camp.


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.


photo by Giovanni Piesco
Giovanni Piesco’s photographs of Tristan Honsinger

Short Fiction

Mary Pickford, 1918/trialsanderrors, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
“Bashert” – a short story by Diane Lederman...This story, a finalist in the 63rd Jerry Jazz Musician Short Fiction Contest, looks at the hopes one man has that a woman he meets the night before he leaves for Camp Devens will keep him alive during World War I so he can return and take her out for dinner

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.


Hans Christian Hagedorn, professor for German and Comparative Literature at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Ciudad Real (Spain) reveals the remarkable presence of Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Don Quixote in the history of jazz.

Short Fiction

“In the Church Library” – a short story by Zary Fekete

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


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Interview with Aidan Levy, author of Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins...The author discusses his book about the iconic tenor saxophonist who is one of the greatest jazz improvisers of all time – a lasting link to the golden age of jazz


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 Judith Tick, author of Becoming Ella Fitzgerald: The Jazz Singer Who Transformed American Song;...An interview with Gary Carner, author of Pepper Adams: Saxophone Trailblazer; 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.

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