Listening to God
by Robert Hecht
One afternoon at the age of ten, lightning strikes.
Alone in our ramshackle wood-frame house in Hartford, I decide to listen to some of my parents’ 45 RPM records. I watch one slide down the fat spindle and plop onto the turntable to receive the tone arm and needle. The music starts and like a bolt captures not just my ears but my whole being. It’s a guy with a gravelly voice singing something about building a dream on a kiss. Then there’s this trumpet solo that’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard. It sounds like it could be God himself playing. That voice and trumpet just take my breath away. I play the record over and over until it becomes a part of me forever.
AN ANECDOTE ABOUT LOUIS ARMSTRONG, TRUMPET PLAYER,
FROM THE 1930’S: A PROSE POEM, OR VIGNETTE.
by Alan Yount
growing up in st.louis in the 1960’s
there were always several jazz stories
going around the jazz clubs everyone knew.
it was during, the 1930’s depression
when the grand theatre was opulent then
it had oriental carpets and crystal chandeliers.
vaudeville shows came and bands played from all over.
louis armstrong played many times and once
a twelve year old kid named aaron snuck in
the side door to hear him play.
the band took a dinner break
and aaron followed them
to a burger place near by.
louis went up to
the carry out window to place an order.
aaron heard a voice from inside
laying it down “no service here
to no coloreds.”
then all of a sudden aaron found himself
standing on the street right in the middle of the band.
he couldn’t believe he was really speaking …
“mr. armstrong … if you give me some money
I will go back and buy you all
louis then grinned at aaron
“thanks son … meet us up on the stage
to the side.”
when aaron got back
to the stage … he carried up
two paper sacks of food.
- armstrong, waved him on up
and said “come into the wings.” the two of them
sat together, sharing fries …
then mr. armstrong said … “I’ve got another idea …
when we go up on stage & start playing
how would you
like to come out on stage with me
and sit in a chair right next to me?”
“I might need to lean
on your shoulder, o.k.?”
aaron later thought that this was
the most exciting thing that had ever happened
in his life at twelve, for sure!
of course as this st.louis story goes
young aaron was a.e. hotchner.
“hotch” continued the knack
all his life of befriending famous people.
by Robert Harris
When he played his horn and wiped his brow
He showed the world how
Jazz was his genius like a painting by Van Gogh
And all the world still calls him Satchmo.
He gave us Heebie Jeebies with all that scat.
He was and is the biggest of the cats.
He could make you laugh and sometimes cry,
But even for the best the years pass by.
Now, Southern Doodle Dandy has gone along
To teach old Gabriel a new kind of song,
And for those who love Jazz Louie’s way
There’s magic in the music that Ole Pops played.
Robert Hecht is an award-winning jazz disc jockey and fine art photographer whose photo work has been published in LensWork, Black & White, Zyzzyva and The Sun and exhibited internationally. His writing has previously appeared in LensWork and in the haiku journals Frogpond, Bottle Rockets and Modern Haiku. He and his wife live in Portland, Oregon. For twenty-five years they have been partners in On Point Productions, writing and producing marketing and training video programs. Visit his website by clicking here.
Alan Yount lives on the north bank of the Missouri River, just south of Columbia, Missouri, and has taken poetic inspiration from boating and floating the river for many years. His poems have been published in a variety of publications, including Palo Alto Review, Roanoke Review, Spring…the Journal of E.E. Cummings Society, Apostrophe Magazine, Columbia College Journal of the Literary Arts, Modern Haiku, Pegasus Review, and Tidepool Magazine. Alan also plays jazz trumpet, and has led his own dance band. He is a direct descendant of the famous frontiersman, Daniel Boone.
With feet planted squarely in both Texas and Thailand and a heritage that includes membership in the Cherokee Nation, Robert O. Harris, Jr. teaches at the University of North Texas at Dallas. He retired in 2014 from Northwood University and was named Associate Professor Emeritus. His essay, Charles and Robert, A Literary Friendship, was published by the De Golyer at Southern Methodist University. His commentaries about unpublished poems by Tennessee Williams have appeared in the Southwest Review. His poem, “The Performance,” appeared in Space and Time.