Sunday, November 18, 2018

Avis D. Matthews and the Fall

This summer Avis D. Matthews (whose poetry you may know if you've been following this site) joined the poetry workshop that my husband and I started.  Here is one of her poems from the workshop.  Avis wrote that she "wrote the poem from a fall state of mind."

A Dog Man

Damp and cloudy,
cool and quiet,
the morning shore 
is an invitation 
to the solitude seeker.

A glimpse of the dogs 
down on the beach draws him 
from the warm kitchen 
onto the concrete balcony
suspended in a frame of mist
six floors up.

Hopeful for adventure,
a long-legged pup charges out 
from behind a dune,  
dashes ahead, 
romps, wags, spins, 
his own playmate. 

An older dog, 
bony and not at all 
ready for morning, 
lags behind like a 
half-hearted chaperone.

On the beach this morning
it's a dog's world.
The man on the balcony
retreats to the soft heat
and his guitar.

- Avis D. Matthews
June 30, 2018

Although we are past 9/11 and even what used to be called Remembrance Day, I would like to post another poem by Avis, "Quiet Skies."  Let's not forget those lost on 9/11/01.  The ending is also very timely.

Quiet Skies
by Avis D. Matthews

Were the clouds so quiet 
in the days before there were no planes
gliding through them;
before that morning,
that bright new day,
which, suddenly, 
was both an end 
and the beginning of 
a long sorrow
that commenced 
on bridges, 
roads and highways,
in meetings interrupted
and routines aborted.

An undeletable sorrow
that first pinched 
in the panic
of unanswered phone calls,
anxious pleas:
Where are you?
Call us back.
Call back.
Call back... 

A desperate sorrow, 
remembered as: 
burning trees and 
flying metal,
smothering heat and 
smoking clouds and 
collapsing walls,
blood and cries 
and courage.

glued inside the American scrapbook,
of last hugs,
last blow-kisses,
last grins,
last gulps of coffee.

Until our memories,
like thunder and lightning,
but sometimes like birthday cake,
cause us to remember 
that they lived before they died.

But is remembering enough?

What could honor them
but a nation where children are fed;
where grungy sidewalks  
don't pass for living rooms;
where justice isn't muddied
with cowardice and greed.

We honor them if
we squash cruel authority,
callous leadership,
and heartless despotism;
and if we echo the poetess Gwendolyn Brooks 
and proclaim to those would slap the sun:
It will not always be night. *
* Inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "Speech to The Young Speech To The Progress-Toward (Among Them Nora And Henry III")

This evening I was playing Charles Fambrough's The Proper Angle Album.  It wasn't quite right for grading papers, but perhaps it is better for reading poetry.

The album started off with "Don Quixote":

YouTube chose Miles Davis' "Autumn Leaves" to follow:

I'll finish with John Coltrane's "Equinox":

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Catching up with Leslie McKay and Julie Naslund, Paying Tribute to Felino A. Soriano

I am always happy to publish Leslie McKay and Julie Naslund's rengay.  I just didn't expect for it to take so long!!  As you may have guessed from the picture above, their first collaboration was inspired by John Coltrane.

like telepathy

which direction ?
begin in the middle
and go both ways  J

still they salute him
no-one could catch trane  L

aural meditation
from the well of the heart
a love supreme    J

a pure state
moment to moment
only one instrument L

beyond the saxophone 
a new cultural landscape  J

like telepathy
a strong rapport
with inner history   L

I'm glad that they sent me a second rengay!  

eloping with sound

Miles in his Porsche
stopped by cops asking
who he stole it from

misunderstood brilliance
translating from his inner ear

blue into green
a leisurely unfolding
everything is one

discordant brew
beautiful cacophony
new directions

eloping with sound

chasing it out
all the way to the edges
again and again

rengay by Leslie and Julie

Recently I received the sad news that jazz poet Felino A. Soriano had died.  Alison Ross is editing an extensive tribute to him, but tonight's entry is an impromptu tribute to him.  I am adding a couple of his poems.  The first poem is the last that I received from him, I believe.
Conversational whisper
                                   --after Ivar Antonsen (b. 1946)

  Where it was we’ve
 more so an adaptation
     of age and what
 age in theory represents
                   within the
   behavior of our current
        manifestations.  Said
     of what we’ve forgotten,
  each mirror, when unobstructed
        by thick, fingering fog will
  reveal what the body bends
 toward:     :frequent spatial
    needs to determine fractions’
      music, asymmetrical, altruistic with
   widened hands of a welcoming

   warmth is what relocates oddities of noon’s winter holdings;
 elongated lines, tired strands of silken silence
     continue oscillating speech though
   when heat becomes apparition
       is the grayed gradation crawl
   -ing to adhere to bone’s piano solo
        to ash

The second is his tribute to Geri Allen, who was also gone too soon.


—after Geri Allen’s Soul Eyes

each gate     wanders, opens          widens,


an interpretation     of a window’s
signature of contouring syllables
shaped by hands of popular
association, —a connected dedication
opens the visual hanker to
align purpose with the prose
of companionship’s configuration,     each
smile of an onlooker holds an embraceable
moment, an emblem stays, hovering
above what portends color to confirm
emotional clarification, and the eyes
will remember each chapter, each
page will ignite imagination’s pageantry,
consecrated contemplation

by Felino A. Soriano

I'll finish with a few songs for you.  Perhaps they'll inspire you to write.

Let's start with Geri Allen's "Soul Eyes":

Although I haven't included any of Felino's poems inspired by Robert Glasper's music, I am including Glasper's "So Beautiful":

I'll finish with Glasper's "The Worst":

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Rita Marie Recine Goes to Woodstock

In the summer of 1969

Nearly 50 years ago  in the summer of 1969 August 15-August 18
.. 400 - 500 thousand people  young and old and  poor joined together .
The   biggest celebration in history of love, music and peace – the historic Woodstock Festival, a legendary event

they arrived in  groups , with some friends
a hiatus from the  real world
from north , south, east and west of America

running from  reality
to join their fellowman  in total harmony , festivity

from om the real world of chaos and stress
took a drive to Woodstock to decompress...

flower children on the roads

We need  to enter the garden  of spirit, flowers, peace and love
the rock and roll bands ... played for 3 days
there were many... all was permitted
Lucy  in the sky with diamonds was there.
in the summer of 1969

Everywhere, everywhere. there was smog, fog
people nestled ... on a log..
some restsed others not...  freedom of choice.... it was those three days or 4

My daughter Bianca has a friend
her name is cristina surely they would have participated .. in this era, newfound generation
peace signs in their rooms ..., heirlooms
Today i speak of Woodstock in its original form.

400 500 thousands gathered those three days
as others fled others gathered,
coming from east wet north, south
in the garden it all began young love...
drove day and night
until they saw a light

A newfound generation was born .
Wishing I was there... to join the group , be in the loop..amazing , priceless ...

 The girls with their own style of bohemian , with cropped tops  were themselves...
US....wanted to be recognized
in the summer of 1969

No restrictions , after all it was the 60s and 70s 
much was prohibited ... Not in Woodstock, all was permitted
almost all 
In the summer of 1969

A journey of love peace and song
all were brothers , and sisters..
sharing the same ideologies, not stigmatized...nor categorized
all was glorified... 

 music, a ring of  fire , burning 
solemnly like the spinning  wheel ,  whatever they called it then .
 lucy in the sky with diamonds gave purple haze, an amazing gaze...
in the summer of 1969

a milestone ... a memoir of moment...
all was good
 no worries
 no hurry

 songs of love , chanting peace release ... thank you and please 
In the summer of 1969

 free culture was not for all  some would have preferred staying home  alone 
the man or woman being  single ,chose not too mingle

Saying No to Woodstock, and all its ventures
wanted a new direction.......
 Many thought this festival wouldn't last.
a thing of the past

 the idea to  dissipate  in a sea of high tide 
On the contrary
What a wonderful ride
In the summer  of 1969

All  that cannot be an experience , be it philosophy, sociology , psychology...
a Woodstock adventure on a 600 acre farm .... 
yes they were their music and audience attendees .. are streamers
In the summer of 1969
all were hippies  that is whe they wanted to go
in the summer of 1969 from august 15 to 18 ,, day and night 
summer of 1969

If ever you get an opportunity to go to bethel new york
make a pit stop ... where a piece of history still remains.
On a rock there is
In the summer of 1969
 a Woodstock venture  where all did flock
Joni Mitchell inspiration...

the truth be told
most have  gone to the promise land , with their music , the world has won
still spoken about in novels, music or in prose

today most have all gone, the hippie days are a part of  the past
50 years  have passed us by.
. history
few are left to spread the word  of peace and carry it on
it truly is a rock and roll heaven
the righteous brother had it right from the start

Woodstock Peace, Music & Memories history was made
memories do not fade
harmonious and catastrophic

Today is perserved , its origins , the world is still rocked by its story.
a legendary festival .. which  will be no more
the  greatest celebration of music and people  in 1969.

Let's go to the music!

DeJohnette, Grenadier, Medeski, and Scofield recently covered Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock":

Cassandra Wilson covered Joni's "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines":

If you prefer your "Woodstock" with lyrics, here is Richard Thompson's version from the 2001 tribute to Joni Mitchell:

Since the cover of his album Dreams is pretty trippy, I'm going to switch to Gabor Szabo's "Ferris Wheel":

I'll finish with Larry Young's version of "Moontrane":

Friday, October 5, 2018

Michael Lee Johnson in the Fall

This evening I'd like to post the latest poems that Michael Lee Johnson sent me.  These are good poems for the fall!

Old Men Walk Funny (V2)

Old men walk funny with shadows and time eating at their heels.
Pediatric walkers, prostate exams, bend over, then most die.
They grow poor, leave their grocery list at home,
and forget their social security checks bank account numbers,
dwell on whether they wear dentures, uppers or lowers;
did they put their underwear on?
They can’t remember where they put down their glasses,
did they drop them on memory lane U.S. Route 66?
Was it watermelon wine or drive in movies they forgot their virginity in?
Hammered late evenings alone bottle up Mogen David wine madness
mixed with diet 7-Up, all moving parts squeak and crack in unison.
At night, they scream in silent dreams no one else hears,
they are flapping jaws sexual exchange with monarch butterfly wings.
Old men walk funny to the barbershop with gray hair, no hair;
sagging pants to physical therapy.
They pray for sunflowers above their graves,
a plot that bears their name with a poem.
They purchase their burial plots, pennies in a jar for years,
beggar's price for a deceased wife.
Proverb:  in this end, everything that was long at one time is now passive,
or cut short. Ignore us old moonshiners, or poets that walk funny,

"they aren't hurting anyone anymore."

Just Because, Bad Heart

Just because I am old
do not tumble me dry.
Toss me away with those unused
Wheat pennies, Buffalo nickels, and Mercury dimes
in those pickle jars in the basement.
Do not bleach my dark memories
Salvation Army my clothes
to the poor because I died.
Do not retire me leave me a factory pension
in dust to history alone.
Save my unfinished poems refuse to toss them
into the unpolished alleyways of exile rusty trash barrows
just outside my window, just because I am old.
Do not create more spare images, adverbs
or adjectives than you need to bury me with.
Do not stand over my grave, weep,
pouring a bottle of Old Crow
bourbon whiskey without asking permission
if it can go through your kidney’s first.
When under stone sod I shall rise and go out
in my soft slippers in cold rain
dread no danger, pick yellow daffodils,
learn to spit up echoes of words
bow fiddle me up a northern Spring storm.
Do you bad heart, see in pine box of wood,
just because I got old.

Canadian Seasons
Exiled Poet
By Michael Lee Johnson

Walking across the seasons in exile
in worn out house slippers, summer in Alberta prairies-
snowshoes, cross-country skiing winter in Edmonton, Alberta.
I'm man captured in Canadian wilderness, North Saskatchewan River.
I embrace winters of this north call them mercy killers.
Exiled now 10 years here I turn rain into thunder,
days into loneliness, recuperate loss relationships into memories.
I'm warrior of the trade of isolation, crucifier of seasons
hang torment on their limbs.
Ever changing words shifting pain to palette fall colors and art.
I'm tiring of Gestalt therapy, being In and Out the Garbage Pail.
I'm no longer an Aristotelian philosopher seeking catharsis.
My Jesus is in a vodka bottle soaked with lime, lemon juice and disco dancing.
Pardon amnesty I'm heading south beneath border back to USA-
to revise the old poems and the new, create the last anthology,
open then close the last chapter,
collected works before the big black box.
I'm no longer peripatetic, seasons past.

Injured Shadow (V3)
By Michael Lee Johnson

In nakedness of life moves
this male shadow worn out dark clothes,
ill fitted in distress, holes in his socks, stretches,
shows up in your small neighborhood,
walks pastime naked with a limb
in open landscape space-
damn those worn out black stockings.
He bends down prays for dawn, bright sun.

Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the Vietnam era and is a dual citizen of the United States and Canada. Today he is a poet, freelance writer, amateur photographer, and small business owner in Itasca, Illinois.  Mr. Johnson published in more than 1032 publications, his poems have appeared in 37 countries, he edits, publishes 10 different poetry sites.  Michael Lee Johnson, Itasca, IL, nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015/1 Best of the Net 2016/and 2 Best of the Net 2017.  He also has 166 poetry videos on YouTube:  He is the editor-in-chief of the anthology, Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze: and editor-in-chief of a second poetry anthology, Dandelion in a Vase of Roses which is available here:  Michael is also editor-in-chief of Warriors with Wings, a smaller anthology available here:

If you'd like to listen to Michael read his poetry, here are some links for you.  The first is to "Old Men Walk Funny":

Next is "Just Because, Bad Heart":

Here is "Canadian Seasons: Poet Out of Exile":

I'll finish with "Injured Shadow":

Now to play a little music....  Recently YouTube recommended Junior Mance's music to me.  Here is his version of "I Wish I Knew Now How It Would Feel To Be Free":

I'll finish with his 1960 version of "The Uptown":