Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sweet Sovereign Fleurs de Mal

Poet and visual artist Ed Schelb returns with a new poem "Sweet Sovereign Fleurs de Mal," which, as he points out, "is about the weird intersection of teaching and jazz."  Both involve improvisation within a set structure. On the other hand, clerical work reminds me more of classical music where one has to follow the notes, the composer's intention, and the conductor.  I am sure that I am oversimplifying classical music, though, but my impression of that genre is based on what a musical friend of mine told me when we were arguing about Shakespeare.

The images in this entry are all by Ed. My husband just remarked on how striking they are.  Enjoy! 

Sweet Sovereign Fleurs de Mal

play Baudelaire backwards
on your hi-fi and you hear
Pastor Edwards
gravitating towards cool jazz
icy androgynous sweetness
to his voice like Chet Baker
or Tiresias and then unwound
into some perilous improv
melody burnt up like
an Apollo capsule swallowing
its long chute you know
his band would’ve split
his tyrannical arrangements
a form of penance
each solo bound to the next
with a mad logic sweet inward
sense of things lightning mutilated
rapture crackle like Django
Reinhardt’s gypsy fingers
felix culpa in a nutshell bombshell
electron shell jumpin’ its orbit
its habitual groove
and I scramble for a Chet Baker
tape but the cover’s empty
so what if I lecture on the Great
Awakening by blasting
“My Funny Valentine” knowing
time won’t evaporate
as long as you blow
sweet sweet sweet sovereignty
steady on the hi-hat now

Do you recognize Chet Baker above?  He was so handsome and haunted, even into the 1970s.

I am including links to a few of his songs.  Late in life he covered Elvis Costello's "Kind of Blue."

Costello has also covered "My Funny Valentine."  But is he a jazzman?  (He is younger than Ron Carter though!)

Ed also mentions jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt in his poem:

Ed Schelb has more graphic work at this site.  I encourage you to explore it.

You may also enjoy Changming Yuan's poems from last week:

For other poems from the contest, see the link to Dr. Michael Ingram's "Billie in the Morning":

If you would like to contribute to the contest, this entry has more information for you:

If you are also a visual artist or have performed your poem live, I urge you to submit your work as well.  The Song more than just text!

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