Two poems about Christmas (with Miles Davis) — by Michael L. Newell and D.R. James

December 23rd, 2020

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Mariefize009, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Peinture à l'huile de Miles Davis par Marie Fikry

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Christmas Eve Outside Amman Jordan 1992

Snow draped fields of Khilda, miles outside of Amman,
empty of people, cars, animals, kind of blue I was,
alone in a deserted apartment building. The few
apartments and houses on my street were deserted so I put
on music loud as I wished to accompany wind-blown snow,

music a cry toward distant city lights. Miles and Gil Evans
reinvented Concierto de Aranjuez into aching sorrow of
Sketches of Spain, filling my loneliness between snowy fields
with grief made into pure beauty that elicited tears and lonely
joy that filled Christmas Eve night, bridged thousands of miles

between my expat home among Bedouin filled fields of Jordan
and the smog-filled streets of Los Angeles. As accompaniment,
I sang pure melody along with Evans, Miles, and their orchestra,
a song for self, my small bewildered dog sitting on frayed couch,
and wind-blown snow filling fields, topping off buildings, turning

all I could see into pure white, grace for a lonely night meant
to celebrate hope, future joy, peace, and love between strangers,
such as the people in this land (where I was a stranger) who had
welcomed me, treated me well, even though we did not share
political, religious, or social beliefs. The music of sorrow on my tape deck,

the vocal accompaniment I was quietly, yet passionately, adding
to its amazing mix of classical and jazz sensibilities, let me inhabit three
worlds: the United States of my memory, the pure grief
centered in Miles Davis’s trumpet, and snow filled fields surrounding
me on the outskirts of a Muslim land whose people had welcomed me.

I found peace on Christmas Eve in an alien land
listening while alone to lonely music, my only company
a small dog, snow-filled fields and falling snow, and my memories
spread out across nations and continents. I played blue Miles again
and again until city lights flickered out and dawn spread across the horizon.

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by Michael L. Newell

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First Christmas

Never up first, he was always
downstairs first, his four little boys
aligned like ascending angels
up the polished staircase, already
dressed, eager to see the tree,
their piles of presents, when he gave
the word. But this—his first since
moving out, holed up in a grayed
box on a slab with a stoop just
blocks away: Christmas Eve with
him, a canned ham, and trifles
stuffed into four new matching
stockings; Christmas day with her.
At forty-four, he’d never spent
this morning alone with its luxury
of infomercials, happy-holiday sales
inserts, fried eggs and left-over ham.
A nice woman stopped to exchange
commiseration, gifts meant to flatter,
their festive fronts. Later, the phone
said what everyone had gotten—
what he already knew. That night,
back at the rental after kissing four
happy foreheads through their front
porch door, he watched winter turn
his wine black, fell asleep weeping,
Miles Davis playing Blue in Green.

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by D.R. James

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Michael L. Newell currently lives and writes on the Southeast Florida coast.

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D.R. James’s latest of nine collections are Flip Requiem (Dos Madres, 2020), Surreal Expulsion (Poetry Box, 2019), and If god were gentle (Dos Madres, 2017), and his micro-chapbook All Her Jazz is free, fun, and printable-for-folding at Origami Poems Project. He lives in the woods near Saugatuck, Michigan.

Visit his Amazon author page by clicking here

 

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Listen to the 1960 recording of Miles Davis playing “Concierto de Aranjuez: Adagio” (from Sketches of Spain) arranged and conducted by Gil Evans


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Listen to Miles Davis play “Blue in Green,” from Kind of Blue (1959)

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