“Saint Thomas and Sonny Rollins” – a poem by Michael L. Newell

February 23rd, 2023

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Yves Moch, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Yves Moch, CC BY-SA 3.0 /via Wikimedia Commons

Sonny Rollins, 2005

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Saint Thomas and Sonny Rollins

Drummer do your thing, oh yeah, and here comes the man,
Sonny Rollins, hot, wild, with his tune always dancing; lift
your feet, brothers and sisters; feel the imaginative riffs move you
across the world, not floor; this dance covers more ground
than a mere floor tune; its rhythm needs full wild embrace;
that horn leaps up, down, round and round, side to side,
always alive, always finding new things to say; those drums

keep arriving at the right time, in the right ways; wow, what
is that madman seated there doing, so alive, alive-o, and your body
moves, grooves, flies through the air in uninhibited response;
oh, man, shake, rattle, and roll in communion; here comes
The Man back again in full tenor flight; never, never, never,
will you ever find yourself like this without diving into the notes
unleashed by the wild horn driven by the even wilder man;

ah, here comes the piano rippling along over a steady drum
and cymbal beat; the piano reminds us of how mellow things
can be when everything is right with the world, yet still there is that beat
lifting the feet and shoulders; oh my, Mister Rollins is back, and his horn
sings of life, beautiful life, and ends with an emphatic statement of life
everlasting, and its intrinsic worth; when the sound evaporates into silence,
we all are limp as discarded clothing; we slip into chairs, and reflect

on what has transpired over the last seven minutes or so, and smile.

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Michael L. Newell lives in Florida. He has had seven books of poetry published in the last three years.  

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Listen to the 1956 recording of Sonny Rollins playing “St. Thomas,” with Tommy Flanagan (piano); Doug Watkins (bass); and Max Roach (drums).  [Sonny Rollins/Concord Music Group]

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