The international flavor of jazz…in five poems

June 7th, 2023

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United Artists, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

United Artists, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Carmen Miranda, 1947

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Carmen Miranda in Hollywood

She sang of bananas and wanting.
Night after night two generations
Of my family drawing together
Around a wooden console

To watch Maria do Carmo Miranda,
born as José Maria Pinto da Cunha.
This second daughter
Was one of our own, packaged

By Hollywood as Cuban, Brazilian,
Puerto Rican, Irish, whatever
Was called for. We knew better,
Named after her father’s first love,

Of French opera Carmen
Dazzled as we applauded her
Commercials, her appearances
On Jimmy Durante.

Banana-da-Tera!
Banana-da-Tera!

The flowing dress
and fruit-hat turban.

She was our Portuguese
Queen, emissary, princess
Full stop. my grandfather’s
Old age crush, his one and
only carefully loved pin up girl.

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by Milicent Borges Accardi

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Bahia Beats

Percussionist Davi Vieira speaks all languages
in the tongue of drums, triangle, jazzy castanets,
a set of bells that hangs from his mic.

He seduces fans with his thumping hands.
We respond to his Bahia beats
with hips and feet.

Can’t hide the heat.
Swaying to his fast forro
strains from Northeast Brazil.

Sundays at 9 at Club Bonafide on East 52nd Street.
Fellow Brazilians on guitar, bass,
fiery red Yamaha drums.

Blame it on Salvador, home of Davi,
storyteller Jorge Amado, and
Africans who hit the shores in the 1500s,

where the Atlantic’s thrashing waves are wildest.
He sings “Caipirinha”, and I could order another
but the music gets me plenty high.

Dancing to samba.
Serenaded by songs and laughter and his bright smile.
The best moves all down below.

Luisa plays on a Flying V violin,
swings like she never has before.
Davi can’t hide his joy at

tantalizing fans wrapped in a trance,
like worshippers of Candomblé, the religion of Brazil.
Capped with a checkered green hat, he prances on stage.

The club manager takes to the floor.
Midnight strikes too soon.

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by Amy Barone

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At the Plaza de Armas, Santiago, Chile, Christmas, 2009

An elevated gazebo full of chess players.
Spectators surrounding the top players.

Ice cream vendors screaming, Helado! Helado!
A plaque in the Cathedral vestibule listing the bishops of Santiago back to 1560.

Artists and musicians.
Performance artists in gold, silver and black body paint.

Santa Claus in red velvet shorts in the 90 degree heat.
Children running from Santa’s lap to jump in the plaza fountain.

Palms, Pines, and trees I can’t name.
Pigeons.

Several preachers drawing small audiences.
A saxophonist pointing his instrument toward Brazil.

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by Ed Werstein

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Byrd Songs

Swinging with six strings
He jammed with Django
Studied with Segovia
Busy in Brazil
Bossa Nova
Bamba Samba

Blues for night people
Blues for morning
Blues with rhythm
Blues with brothers
Blues to keep you smiling
Blues to help you forget

Knight of the night
Showing off at The Showboat
From Offbeat to Downbeat
Sweet Yardbird Suite
Little Girl Blue
Desafinado (never)

Byrd at the Gate
Byrd in the Wind
Byrd’s word
When he wasn’t strumming
he was sailing
Prince of tides Byrd by the Sea

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by Mary K. O’Melveny

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Kathmandu Breeze

It had rained heavily the night before
and there was a nip
in the early morning Kathmandu air.
Her mood was as blithe as a wisp of steam
over the gorgeous daffodils in our garden.
“The world sang out all its songs to me.
But yet I’m not satisfied.
I want to hear more.
I want to hear your song,” she said shyly
holding my acoustic guitar in her slender hand.
I said nothing. I just smiled
and held a cigarette in my mouth
and ignited it with the luscious
warmth of her curious eyes.
She played a few of her favorite Ray Charles tunes
and then dragged herself towards me
humming, “ Dream A Little Dream Of Me,”
one of Ella Fitzgerald’s most popular songs.
Minutes later, eyes closed, armed outspread
and with our faces lifted to the deep-blue sky,
we sang several songs together.
Songs of love, hope, revolution, and peace.
After a while, she reached out more and ran her tongue
through the moles in the back of my neck.
Then she rested her head on my shoulder,
and we stayed like that for a long,
long time listening to Miles Davis
Ballads and Blues.
Above the nearby Ganesh temple
floated a border of pale sunlight.
A bird circled our head
and then flew away
towards the majestic mountains
rising in the distance.
Maybe it was Charlie Parker’s
Bird of Paradise
or maybe just a bird.
We looked at each other
and smiled.
Flowers clad
in colorful t-shirts
and vibrant shorts swayed
in the gentle Kathmandu breeze.

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by Bhuwan Thapaliya

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Millicent Borges Accardi has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Fulbright, CantoMundo, California Arts Council, Barbara Deming “Money for Women,” and Fundação Luso-Americana (FLAD). Most recent poetry collection, Only More So (Salmon). IG and Twitter @TopangaHippie

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Amy Barone’s poetry collection, Defying Extinction, was published by Broadstone Books in 2022. New York Quarterly Books published her book, We Became Summer. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing). Barone belongs to the Poetry Society of America. She lives in NYC.

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Mary K O’Melveny, retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife near Woodstock, NY . Mary’s award-nominated poetry appears in print and on-line literary journals, anthologies and national blog sites. Mary has authored three poetry collections: A Woman of a Certain Age, Merging Star Hypotheses and Dispatches From The Memory Care Museum, and co-authored two anthologies: An Apple In Her Hand and Rethinking The Ground Rules. Her fourth book, Flight Patterns, will be released in summer 2023.

Visit her web site at https://www.marykomelvenypoet.com

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Nepalese poet Bhuwan Thapaliya works as an economist and is the author of four poetry collections. He is an avid jazz aficionado. His poems have been widely published in international magazines and journals such as Kritya, Foundling Review, FOLLY, Trouvaille Review, Pendemics Literary Journal, Pandemic Magazine, The Poet, Valient Scribe, Strong Verse, Ponder Savant, International Times, Taj Mahal Review, Poetry Life and Times, VOICES (Education Project), Longfellow Literary Project, Poets Against the War, among many others.

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Ed Werstein is a Regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. In 2018 he received the Lorine Niedecker Prize from the Council for Wisconsin Writers. Communique: Poems From the Headlines (Water’s Edge Press, 2021) is Ed’s fourth collection. A book of poems about his childhood, Benediction & Baseball (Fireweed, 2018), won prizes from the WFOP and from America’s Bookfest. More at edwerstein.com.

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Listen to the 1962 recording of Charlie Byrd playing “Desifinado” [Universal Music Group]

 

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In This Issue

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