Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Return of Sheikha A.

Tonight I'd like to welcome back Sheikha A., whose poems have appeared here:  http://thesongis.blogspot.com/2017/02/tad-richards-and-sheikha-a.html.  Like Sudeep Adhikari, she is among the poets from Resurrection of a Sunflower, an anthology that deserves even more acclaim than it has received.

Two Crows in a Bin

He hasn't left us any recycles,
lamented one to another.

You're rummaging the wrong bin,
replied the surly one.

Shards, rotting peas, uneaten
drumsticks... listed the nosy one,
no imagining tempers were flung
last night, it continued.

You can't bake pies from false eggs,
surly cut nosy off, stop your
business about pecking bins not
your own.

Uneaten drumsticks and shards spell
quarrel, nosy pressed on stubbornly,
and look, here is a gleaming ring too,
it squawked triumphantly,
I should know it was the man's cooking,
or perhaps, his smelly socks, nosy's
know-it-all tone circling the air.

Let's take it to our nest, surly mocked,
and frame it to the tree.

Shame on your sense of romance,
nosy taunted, I should sneak it back
to his poor, heartbroken bedside.

Oh, let's. That ought to re-spark their romance,
surly's sarcasm equalising the day's swelter.

Nosy did as nosy willed. Next day,
beak poked into the same bin:

He threw the ring away, again! A shrill
lament echoed yester-morning's
but with a note of personal pathos.

Our tree-wall awaits its ornament,
surly revised the idea.

Meanwhile, man glaring at the
two crows from his window. Swift
like a baseball pitch, a shiny black
shoe bonked nosy's head, bouncing
off of the rim, landing a stench on
its drop into the bin.

Meddling mass of feathers! He yelled,
stick to your ecological sphere.
Human emotions are not your realm
of physics, hurling the other pair
missing surly.

Surly smirked: emotions not his realm
of balance either, mock-circling
the clumsily landed shoe on the

Come along, nosy, surly flapped his wings
rising into the air like a grand king,
let's find us new bins to pervade.

You won’t believe

the whispers and the holes
in my mouth;

sometimes the best way to see is
by the breath a kiss releases.

I discard myths every day
after living them every night

and dream of a mountain break
off its roots only to roll away

into nowhere. The ground
covered in thick depth of snow,

white and sheen, like a strike of
thunder in the night. Simple

sights: water from the sky
is pure, but broils angst

in a sea. A shark’s hunger opens
to a dead wolf:

world in the grasp of vain hyenas.
A nightingale is a

unicorn on a tree: airplane hawks
shooting to the ground.

Understanding isn’t the deed
of chaos. The vision is "believe."

Since the theme tonight is birds, I am going to post some videos of Donald Byrd.  Enjoy!  He is/was a jazz musician born in the 1930s.

I'll start with "Rock Creek Park," which he did with the Blackbyrds:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkXh4kRTBVk

I first heard of Byrd on Guru's "Loungin'":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gD3BDltkQxY  Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1 was one of my favorite albums back in the day.

Let's go back in time to 1959 with Byrd's "Here I Am":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBbph3Umo2A

He also played with Sonny Rollins on "Decision":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyybaelYR8s

I am trying hard to find a version of Rollins' "Don't Stop the Carnival" with Byrd, but this one will have to do:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DZoD8msjpM


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Welcome to Sudeep Adhikari!

Tonight I'd like to welcome Sudeep Adhikari, one of the poets featured in Catfish McDaris' recent anthology, Resurrection of a Sunflower, a collection of poems and prose inspired by Vincent Van Gogh and his work.  This evening a friend and I were looking through this wonderful anthology.  I hope that you will check it out:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/0998847607

Here are Sudeep's poems!  (These are not in the anthology.)

Syntax of Infinity

I have these few pretty eyes of wound,
always looking at me. Hurting me
with something bigger than
 love, pushing me to
 dream across the screaming abysses.

Universe is infinite they say, but
it can't be bigger than the untamed eyes
it can't be lonelier than
 the language nobody speaks of.

How can you not be 
possessed by the sights of waking gods?
You want to wait. You want
 to be all of your  shadows at once.

And you want to grow a jungle
of hearts inside your heart.  Just in case.

The Myth of Dialogues

Some awfully lonely things
we are. Clutching gravity with our
beer bottle in a sea of faces, 
smoking frantic air molecules
under the bass drops bigger than our
 fear of piercing daylights.

A complete impossibility to
hold a conversation, even with our
own sorry ass selves.

Atoms and bits, clubs and World Wide
Waste. We started looking for
ourselves once, but ended up drowning
 in the sewer of selfies 

Bio: Sudeep Adhikari is a structural engineer/Lecturer  from Kathmandu, Nepal.  His poetry has found place in many online/print literary journals, the recent being Red Fez , Kyoto  , Your One Phone Call, Jawline Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, Yellow Mama, Fauna Quarterly, Beatnik Cowboys and After The Pause.

Let's play some Bennie Maupin tonight.  I learned about him by watching the documentary I Called Him Morgan (about Lee Morgan), and I've been enjoying Maupin's 1974 The Jewel in the Lotus.

Here is "Ensenada," the first song on The Jewel in the Lotus.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZcGsuDPvOU

This is "The Jewel in the Lotus" itself:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0d22L9YruUA&list=PLgY5R6n6NEr2b-6yW7zpUVGFgthtUozFu

Recently he played in Krakow, Poland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryG1C6IaCoU

I'll finish with his "Chamoleon," also a live version:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ab9MJgIkauo


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Chani Zwibel Enters the 1940s Contest

Painting by Tommy Tallstig

For many of us, music connects us with our older family members.  This is especially true of music from the 1960s.  Tonight I'm posting Chani Zwibel's wonderful poems about how music from the 1960s brought her and her father together.


Sometime in the forgotten, idyllic days of the mid 1990’s.
In the grey pickup truck with Dad. 
He turns up Jimi Hendrix.
 Notices I’m nodding my head with the music. 
“You like this song, Chani-Lynne?” 
Child-me says “Yeah, I do.” 
I like the fantasy world in this song-
it’s “All Along the Watchtower”,
 and the wailing guitar makes alive
 the innermost parts of my soul, 
a kind of fire-storm, 
wind a-light with a powerful orange wave.
Jimi Hendrix songs are a gift Dad bestows on me, 
simply by sharing this moment, 
memory more sacred than any material object.  
Later, Adult-me learns Bob Dylan wrote this song, 
but knows deep within,
 a place separate from where knowledge is merely the domain of the brain, 
a grey main street with facts and figures shop fronts,
the knowing-unknowing realm of the gut feels truth:
Jimi made this song,
 brought it from lyrics to the realm of music, 
Rock n’ roll hymn of highest praise,
Rock n’ roll high priest of deepest skill. 


My father’s glove box smells of tobacco. His pipe lives in there, carved wooden bowl packed with resinous herb.

My father’s tackle box smells of metal and salt. His bobbers live in there, tiny red and white plastic orbs, and his lures, sharp and shiny with neon green rubber worms to attract the fish. 

My father’s pickup truck is grey. He drives it to do heating and air repairs for little old ladies who pay him in complements and oranges. 

My father’s hair is black, with little patches of grey at the temples. He hides the receding hair line of curls under a ballcap, Harley Davidson logo black lined in orange bands.  

My father’s hands are dirty with oil and grease after work. He washes them in Dove soap, white bubbles foaming away the grime. 

My father’s face is scratchy with stubble, in the summer he shaves, in the winter the beard grows. He kisses my mom, sister, and I goodbye before he leaves for the day’s job. 

My father prefers the taste of his mother’s cooking, but my mother can cook, too. He eats hamburgers and smiles, says “dinner was good, dear.”
My father prefers the taste of beer to water. He downs brown bottles of Stoney’s and fills the recyclables containers. He’s a happy man and a happy drunk. He sings and laughs. 

My father listens to Tom Petty, Jimi Hendrix, and The Beatles. He loves those songs where guitar transports to another world, music made to lift above the mundane, music made to dance and forget yesterday and tomorrow, music made for the praise of this moment, eternal now.  

My father listens to me. We talk about what famous people we’d like to meet in Heaven, and we agree on Einstein. I never feel like he doesn’t hear me, even when I’m childish-babbling. He pats my shoulder, nods his head.   


There’s a room inside my soul with an altar to earth, where black loam and red clay lie mingled in a ceramic bowl. Garnets glitter on the low table all around it. It’s cool and dark inside the room, like a Pennsylvania summer dusk, blue light falling, chill seeping from the feet of mountains through the hollow, an ever-so-slightly damp ache in the bones.

Priestesses garbed in scarlet tend the altar, rake the earth in spiral patterns with their long nails.  

The earth room plays only Jimi Hendrix “Red House”, and I can sit upon a crimson divan, robed in velvet.  

I am riding a red mare next to the earth altar, mud on her hooves and mud on my slippers, gained treading the ground from whence we came. 

I am the wolf queen here, howling to summon my sisters, growling to protect my spacious den. 

The wolf queen shreds enemies with her sharp teeth, her muzzle vermillion stained with their blood. 

The room in my soul holds the earth, holds it like a palace hung with stalactites as chandeliers, and its wet walls shimmer with quartz and slick limestone. It is shaded, secluded, safe.

Often the wolf queen visits the room, and barks to call her pups to her. 

They snuggle against her warm fur, curled bodies taking nourishment from Mother. 

Her smile is secret fangs under a snout always searching the scents of cave for stranger, wary but secure in her underground lair.  

The following two poems are inspired by Jimi Hendrix's“Message from Nine to the Universe” and David Bowie'x “Starman”. 

In another dimension just next to ours, 
beyond the stars, 
exists a weird world 
that strange creatures populate, 
and here we’ll play.
Come to me upon the battlements, or seek my chamber door.
Vainglorious villains utter useless usury, 
a tiny cell in the tissue of organisms, 
sealed until further notice. 
Practice the unclear vision for Utopia. 
The totality of all existing things is harmony. 
You’ll find it under the stairs. 
You’ll find it rare and unlooked for. 
You’ll find it in transmitted messages. 
Star children merge your modern age into unraveled DNA. 
They give it unspeakable names. 
They want you to know it’s over. 
They sing about better future. 
Not ready for social change? 
Don’t mention it. 
Unlettered, unliberated, unleash your hoard. 
What is here today, is dust tomorrow. 
What stars burn now, live in your blood tomorrow. 
What unplumbed depths are feared this moment, become suburbia tomorrow. 
Coupling of unofficial visionaries brings unshakable unity. 
Give us your latest version of events.
We seek you, holy liars. 
Speak out, oh, wasted dreamers.
Unprecedented since the rise of ages,
Offer splendor,
Unloose higher learning.  

Stammer, stammer, 
shedding stalactites, 
sleeping next to stalagmites, 
deep in a cavern, 
hidden from the visitors, 
but cavity of cave 
a circle of open sky. 
We’ll not be stamped by the stalemate of our forebears. 
From our concealed location, 
let us give you the final report:
One outside the solar system, 
whose mode of existence is surprise
Hears rain drill staccato on the rock walls, 
Becomes the stark statuary of next generations’ gods,
Halts in hardness, 
But begins a whole people of dignity,  
Gazing fixedly at the bow of a new vessel.  

Art by Lady Orlando

Let's start with Jimi Hendrix's "Red House."  This is a live version from 1969:

Here is "All Along the Watchtower":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLV4_xaYynY

If you'd like to listen to a guitar only version of this song, here is a video from a 1970 concert in Atlanta:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ0NOKmxM0M

Here is the Artur Dutkiewicz Trio's version of "Voodoo Child": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbjcDIVG0uU

This is a live version of David Bowie's "Starman" from 1972: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sI66hcu9fIs

The Matt Stevens Quintet covers "Sunday" here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDTCerjy4f0

I'll finish with Bowie's"Blackstar":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kszLwBaC4Sw


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Felino A. Soriano and Ivar Antonsen

This evening Felino A. Soriano enters the 1940s contest, drawing our attention to Ivar Antonsen, a Norwegian jazz pianist and composer who was born in 1946.  People have sent me a diverse array of tributes to musicians this summer.  Some are very well known in the United States; others are not.  I hope that you will enjoy the variety!

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

Let's star with Antonsen's piano duet with Andy LaVerne "Double Circle":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHUjjdcSKQE

"NY Snapshot" adds tenor sax, bass, and drums to the piano:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFNh58msw3g

A more recent piece, "Tune for Trio," removes the tenor sax but keeps the bass and drums:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Emq--wUjBC4

I'll finish with "Stepping Stones," a duet with Vigleik Storaas, another Norwegian pianist:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ZnoqyB_X8g


Thursday, August 3, 2017

Angelee Deodhar Enters the 1940s Contest...and The Best of the Net Nominees!

If you click on this image, you'll be able to enlarge it.

When many of us think about musicians who were born in the 1940s, the first who come to mind are the Beatles...John, Paul, George, and Ringo.  Tonight I am posting Angelee Deodhar's haibun that evokes the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine."

 Ekphrastic Haibun: The School bus

chrysanthemum cuttings
not knowing which colours
will come up

Each morning when I watch yellow buses pick up children for school, this song by the Beatles Yellow Submarine comes to mind.
To me the school buses are all yellow submarines, like the one at the John Lennon Liverpool Airport, and soon our children will grow up and have children of their own, for whom they pack school lunches, make beds, arrange birthday parties, go to concerts ,attend fancy dress balls, watch them go to prom nights,go on dates, come home late, and they will sing…what we once sang.
in and out of
the tea ceremony-
a warbler’s song

Lyrics from http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/yellowsubmarine.html https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_Submarine_(sculpture)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:48states - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Liverpool-sub.jpg

Here is a long trailer for the movie Yellow Submarine:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vefJAtG-ZKI

This evening I would also like to congratulate my nominees for the 2016/7 Best of the Net in poetry and prose.

The nominees for prose follow.  Each of them take us to intriguing places.  Let's go to Texas with Elizabeth Bruce and her "one-dollar" story, "Bald Tires."  I truly enjoyed Bill Cushing's entry into the non-driving contest "Learning Not to Drive."  It reminds me why I don't want to drive in Puerto Rico!  Ndaba Sibanda wraps up the category with "Friendly Wars," a story set in an African country.

Let's move onto poetry.  I am listing the six nominees in no particular order.  Tad Richards' "The Weather Channel" honors jazz musicians born in the 1930s: Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, and the memorable Lee Morgan.  Bea Garth's "Street Scene" earned a nomination to go with its  honorable mention in the non-driving contest.  Michael Lee Johnson, leader of several poetry groups on Facebook, was nominated for "Alberta Bound."  Philip Elliott's "Vulgar Machines" picked up a nomination to go with its share of the non-driving prize.  Amber Smithers earned a nomination for her outstanding "Bulimia Poem."  The list of nominees conclude with Leslie McKay and Benita Kape for their rengay "Rare Among Them."

It was difficult to choose nominees.  Several of the honorable mentions very nearly became nominees.   The honorable mentions include Joan Dobbie's "Dream Flying," A.J. Huffman's "Final Movement," Chani Zwibel's "Garden Secrets," Yoby Henthorn's "Anhedonia," Vera Drozdova's "I Will Drown, I Will Go Deaf,," Daniel Snethen's haiku,  Sergio Ortiz's "Walking in the Limbo of Words" & "With No Punctuation," and Catfish McDaris' "Bob Dylan is Dead, Or Rage Into The Night, Mr. Jones."  

Enjoy these poems, and enjoy the music below.

Let's start with a hot Texas jazz band, the Alphonso Trent Orchestra from 1928.  The song "Louder and Funnier" will make you feel that it is Saturday night!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW2ajzrwIJw

Live from Fajardo, Puerto Rico is Enjambre D Jazz's version of "Morning":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jZHouxkoeQ  It does not go with Bill Cushing's piece about driving in Puerto Rico!

Victor Kunonga is a young-ish jazz musician from Zimbabwe:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CB_buYM7pyY

Hank Mobley, Wynton Kelly, and Lee Morgan are represented on "Speak Low" from 1958:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AvWEoL7TB0

Here is Billy Childs' version of Laura Nyro's "Upstairs By a Chinese Lamp":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzPQatneXRo  Wayne Shorter is featured on this song.

I'm also including his version of "Stoned Soul Picnic" with Ledisi on vocals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7TnTf8Co-4

I'll finish with John and Alice Coltrane's version of "Living Space" from their album Infinity:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3jaJDr8zKA

Congratulations to all of the nominees and the honorable mentions!