Sunday, August 30, 2015

Looking Back on Spring/Summer 2015 at The Song Is, Part 1

This evening while the judges are mulling over the poems I'd like to begin looking back at the poems published this spring/summer at The Song Is...  Although you won't be voting on the poems, feel free to go back to them. A good poem is always worth reading.   A great poem is always worth rereading.  

Kavon Ward (spoken word):
“I Am Michael Brown”
“I Am Trayvon Martin”

Jerry A. Scuderi:
“Frivolous Fury”
“A Morning of Manna”
“Drizzled Darkness”
“Green Pea Soup”

“Yellow Bird”
“Working for Carrots”
“Soggy Doggy”
“Pizza Pup”

Will Mayo:
“What Lurks in These Woods”

“The Talk”
“Last Gasp”
“Edge of Night”
“The Night”
“The Raven”
"Notes on a Man Made Mad"

Charles Clifford Brown III
“Promise to Momma”
“For Dad”

“Smokeless Windjammers”
“Agelast Syndrome Overtime”

Doug Mathewson
“Which Goodbye”
“Sequenced Dream”
“Woman’s Way”

Catfish McDaris
“Animal Crackers”
“17 Cents a Year”
“700 People Dancing Somewhere”

“61 Winters”
“We All Go Away Like an Echo of Sad Laughter”

To finish up, here is some music for you.  Continuing the theme of the poems, I'll look back at some of the music I posted this spring/summer.

Lately I have been listening to John Coltrane and Tommy Flanagan's album The Cats.  Here is "Minor Mishap" from that album:

Bud Powell's "Lullaby of Birdland" is here:

I am also going to bring back Ahmad Jamal's "Poinciana":

As it is Sunday night, I'll finish with Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama's "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again":

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bryn Fortey Completes the Spring/Summer Poems

As the spring/summer contests wind down to a close, I'm pleased to see how British poet Bryn Fortey has "brought us home," as they say.  Both of his poems invoke important women in jazz music, so they are wonderful poems to end the spring/summer with.


Listening to firmly struck keyboard
And voice capable of horny seduction
Able to bludgeon or soothe
From song to song
From mood to mood
She can grab me by heart or balls
I don’t complain
Just as long as next tune kicks in
The chords and structure
Of her interpretation
Sweeping me to an orgy of adulation

Praise be to you Nina
I hope in death you found your god
I’ve found your music
And that will have to do for me

Bryn Fortey

Previously published in MERRY-GO-ROUND And Other Words (The Alchemy Press) 2014.


Lil Hardin ranked with
Such as Jelly Roll Morton
Among the greats
Of early jazz piano

Playing for King Oliver
She tutored the unsophisticated Louis
Becoming ambitious on his behalf
Hot Fives
Hot Sevens
Solo Stardom
She was the gal who guided
While he just wanted to play

Their friendship lasted
Surviving divorce
And she herself died
After performing at a 
Louis tribute concert

Amen, sister

Bryn Fortey

Previously unpublished.

Let's start with some of Lil Hardin Armstrong's music.  As Margaret Moos Pick points out, the "second Mrs. Armstrong" was not only a skilled musician but also a composer.  If you'd like to learn more about LHA, by the way, here is a link to Ms. Pick's essay:

I'll start with her "Got No Blues," which she recorded in 1927 as part of the Louis Armstrong Hot Five:

After the breakup of her marriage, she continued to performs.  Here is one of her songs, "It's Murder," done with the swing orchestra that she led:

Another of her songs was "Oriental Swing":

I do want to return to Nina Simone's music as well.

I'll start with her "Mississippi Goddam":

This version of her "Work Song" was done on the Merv Griffin Show:

I'll finish with her "I Put a Spell on You":

Thank you for a wonderful spring/summer!  I will be posting the winning poems in these contests soon.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sheryl Massaro and Felino A. Soriano

As the spring/summer contests wind down, I would like to welcome Sheryl Massaro to The Song Is...and to welcome back Felino A. Soriano.  Both of their poems celebrate women in music.

New Spell
          for Nina Simone

In the silences in between
her old soul contralto trails
I am momentarily dazed,
lost like one of those children
centuries ago
who were led by a piper,
a male siren who knew much
about pain and cared less.

In them, the meditations
on adaptations
to the closed worlds of others
bring her to the keys
to sit in judgment
with Bach.

by Sheryl Massaro

Sheryl Massaro’s poetry and translations have been called “moving, beautiful,” yet they are grounded in the deceptively simple paths of daily living. Massaro has an MFA in Creative Writing and has had residencies at Yaddo and St. Peter’s colonies. She has studied under Stanley Kunitz, Allen Ginsberg, Galway Kinnell, and many others. Several of her poems have been published in literary journals as well as The New York Times. Massaro now lives in Frederick, Maryland. She teaches occasional small-group poetry writing classes and is an accomplished painter, photographer, and gardener.


—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

Let's start with some of Nina Simone's music.
Here is her version of "Little Girl Blue":

At the same concert (Montreux 1976), she performed "How It Feels to Be Free."  You can watch her improvise on the piano:

Her "Feelin Good" is certainly compelling:

I know you want to hear Geri Allen's "Soul Eyes":

On "Lonely Woman," she plays with Paul Motian and Charlie Haden:

She is also known for her work with Esperanza Spaulding and Teri Lyne Carrington:


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lynne Viti

This evening I'd like to welcome Lynne Viti to The Song Is...  I hope that you will enjoy her poems inspired by music.  I certainly have!

The picture above is of British pop star Kathy Kirby.  However, I like the look of the photograph.  She could be the subject of Lynne's poem.  Interestingly, one of Kathy Kirby's hits was "Secret Love."

Note: “Diva” originally appeared in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine  May 2015


Get up in front of your third grade class,
on a rainy day when everyone’s done the seatwork,
with twenty minutes to kill before  the bell.
Sing Secret Love or
Young and Foolish— unaccompanied.

Bother Mrs. Smith till she lets you sing solo,
What Child Is This in the Christmas concert
in the gym, everyone in white shirts,
the boys in dark pants,
the girls in navy blue skirts,
yours  is a cheap one
from Epstein’s in Highlandtown
because your mother
says you’ll only wear it once,
why spend more money?

Sing the Telephone  Hour from Bye Bye Birdie
at the first assembly in your all-girls school,
Eight  girls in summer uniforms, fists to ears
Crooning into imaginary handsets,
hi Penny, hi Helen, what’s the story?
–on the stage that rises up
from the gym’s polished floorboards.

Then the singing stops, at least in public.
Singing in the shower doesn’t count, nor does
singing at rallies, ain't nobody goin to turn me round
where have all the flowers gone,  one, two three,
what’re we fightin for, don’t ask me.

In the car on the way home from the play,
slaphappy and tired, sing the Marseillaise,
Sing show tunes, that was a real nice clambake,
At home, sing Surabaya Johnny  along with Bette Midler
On the stereo, the last record on repeat, repeat.

When the babies come, sing old Beatle songs, sing Sinatra,
It happened in Monterey a long time ago, sing Girl Scout tunes,
I’m happy  when I’m hiking, baby’s boat’s a silver moon,
sing Raffi, Rosenshontz, can you tell me how to get,
how to get to Sesame Street.

Now it’s quiet in the house. Everyone’s
out or has moved away. Leave the radio off,
keep the Ipod silent. Sing
whatever you please.

Harp Music

He said you haven’t really lived
till you get a death threat
from a guy with a cell phone
just over the state line, someone who
maybe read about my work,
found it sinful, against his principles,
shaking the foundations of
whatever it is he calls his religion
or ideology. But I felt 
much better when the cops 
paid him a visit, and he faded away.

With you, it was the phone calls
from a harpist, slight and pale,
ebony-haired, tearful.
She looked at you across the wide desk 
covered with case files, foolscap pads,
ball point pens. She told you 
her  father had died and her husband had left, wanted
nothing more to do with her. You
counseled her to mediate.

When she got home, she phoned the office
for hours, starting at midnight, 
careening along into dawn.
Twenty-five messages on the tape
each more high-pitched and insistent
her voice growing hoarser each time
letting you know just what miseries
she’d  visit on you. And yes, she knew
you had children, and she had them, too
in her sights.

A couple drinks later, you stood
behind home plate 
at your son’s little league game,
trying to forget about it,
wondering what she thought when
the police showed up at the door,
hauled her away to the cold hospital room.
You told someone the story, then told
Someone else
hoping it would amuse.

The police said not to worry.
Her psychiatrist said it’s just disordered thinking
Nothing more. But she wouldn’t
give  blood samples, 
take meds, insisted
 the judge come to the hospital,
where she  sat, docile, polite,
hands folded, refusing treatment.

Wait another ten years, your friend said,
pointing to the ball her son knocked
out of the park into the woods.
You’ll laugh about it, you’ll see.

Months, perhaps years later
you chanced to see her
on stage with her instrument, 
stroking the harp so gently,
pulling sweet tones from the strings,
steel core with wire wrap.

You glanced down at the program
Ran your thumbnail under her name,
Wondered that she found her way back
from four point restraints,
soft, padded, leaving no marks.

She’s better now, you thought,
Settling back in your seat,
Closing your eyes, fighting hard
to let the music engulf you. 

This picture doesn't quite go with Lynne's poem, but it is very sweet.  

I Can’t Get No

Satisfaction, we danced in the basement to the Stones. 
Your mother introduced us to her boyfriend.
They sat upstairs drinking iced tea.
The August night was humid,
The lightning bugs were already out dancing
Across the wide lawns.
You’d survived a year of college.

I’d  slimmed down, in preparation for it.
I grew my hair long.
pinned it up into a French chignon
Trying to look like a girl in a Truffaut flick,
You were the only one who noticed

No satisfaction, no satisfaction.
You danced with everyone at your party
Beach boys or Stones or Smokey
Robinson and his Miracles

You kept your hair short, close
To your head. You still favored the
Madras shirts, khaki pants, 
Boat shoes, no socks, you were
the preppiest guy I knew

I never saw anyone who
Could dance like you so abandoned,
it could be Mersey sound, blues beat, r&b.
You were an equal opportunity 
Music loving dance machine

At midnight when I knew I had
To collect my girlfriend and get on home
Though I wanted to stay and dance on with you
I threw my arms around you
Turned my cheek so my ear
Was up against your clavicle
You were breathless, smelling of 
Lark cigarettes and soap

Call me tomorrow, you said.
I walked up the stairs to your mother’s kitchen
I drove across the city in my father’s Chevy
To my part of town.

My hair had come unpinned.
I slipped into my nightgown
Washed my face. I felt so lucky
You were my friend,
One who asked so little,
Who made me laugh and shared
His cigarettes and his scotch with me
His fake cynicism and his jokes.

You were never my boyfriend,
Never my lover. You were
The companion  who years later
left me a poem
Handwritten but rolled
Into my old typewriter, 
Blue-black ink, corrasable bond.

Lynne Viti teaches in  the Writing Program at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. She  writes  about law, television, gardening, yoga, and anything else that comes into her vision field, and has published poetry, fiction and nonfiction. She blogs at 

This might be a good evening to include links to some 1960s songs, starting with Dusty Springfield's "Son of a Preacher Man."

She also covered "Another Piece of My Heart":

Dusty's version is different from Janis', but I hope you'll enjoy it.

Another song that Dusty covered was the Byrds' "Wasn't Born to Follow."  It's not a dance song, though.

I'll finish with her "Just One Smile," a song by Randy Newman:

I could post many more songs.  Perhaps another time!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

D.V. Rozic

Recently I posted Croatian poet D.V. Rozic's translations of Slovenian poet Dmitrij Srkr's entries in the summer music contest.  Tonight I will post Ms. Rozic's own work, two villanelles.  It's always good to meet a new poet and see a different form of poetry.

Summer music will never fade away

Summer music will never fade away

always with me, at the day's break and its end.

It will carry my soul on a moonray.

I ignore those who envy, devour, flay!

Deaf and blind they are not, they just pretend.

Summer music will never fade away.

It will not reside somewhere in the gray,

it will not be forgotten, colorless friend.

It will carry my soul on a moonray.

I'll snug up to it warmly as I hug the Milky Way,

to every man I shall give it, commend.

Summer music will never fade away.

I shall present harmonies to a child at play,

obey the birds and our songs will surely blend.

It will carry my soul on a moonray.

Rocking it tenderly, for beauty I pray,

in front of its crown I'll bow, humbly bend.

Summer music will never fade away.

It will carry my soul on a moonray.

Summer music warms lone nights

It warms the lonely nights and moonlit snow.

Summer music vivifies my weary heart,

my whole being  tunefully aglow.

When the nightmare monsters bite my dreams, full of woe,

when the ghosts of the past tear my memories apart,

it  warms the lone nights and moonlit snow.

Connected by the breeze, summer chords flow,

cuddling the ocean, tame are the winds of art

my whole being  tunefully aglow.

Singing to a fluffy cloud  on a plateau,

on white Sea Organs I forget Descartes.

It warms the lone nights and moonlit snow.

As I climb and fall, in the mud lying low,

each initiation enlightens a poisoned dart.

My whole being  tunefuly aglow.

Misery, nothing new, only quid pro quo!

Shall I depart or have another fresh start?

It warms the nights and moonlight snow

my whole being  tunefully aglow.


A short bio:

Djurdja was born in 1956 in Croatia, where she lives.
She graduated from the Faculty of Economy in Zagreb,
writes prose and poetry and has published 18 books so far.
She is a translator and chief editor of haiku magazine IRIS.
For her work she has received a number of awards in Croatia
and abroad.


My husband is playing Grant Green's The Latin Bit in the other room, so I am going to post some of the songs from the album.  Plus, these songs will get you ready for the fall contests!

First is his version of "Besame Mucho":

Next is "Mama Inez":

I'll finish with "Brazil":

I also want to add Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas" since this is a particular favorite of mine:

Thursday, August 13, 2015

John McDonald

This evening I would like to welcome the Scottish poet John McDonald to The Song Is... and to thank Angelee Deodhar for directing him here.  She also created the visual setting for his words.

Let's start with John's haibun and Angelee's image for Miles Davis.  It is better to click on these visuals so that you can read John's words more easily.

Enjoy some "Bad Penny Blues," a haibun about jazz in Glasgow.

Let's shift gears with "Wrapped in the West Wind" and the other poems below.

One of my husband's friends from Purdue was an advocate of Hemingway's writing.  I wonder what he would make of this haibun.

This is the time to think of the ocean.

I'll conclude with John's haiku.

wind through
the refugee camp  -
orchestra of bones

Let's play some Miles Davis here.

My husband plays the recording of "Green Dolphin Street" quite often:

This is the Miles Davis Quintet's version of Monk's "Well You Needn't":

His "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" starts off Steamin':

It's time to be Relaxin' with "If I Were a Bell":

I'll finish with "It Never Entered My Mind" from Workin' with the Miles Davis Quintet:

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cindy Evans and Rita Marie Recine's Summer Music

This evening my husband and I went for a walk after Jeopardy!, and even though it was still quite steamy, we realized that the nights were inching back.  Soon we won't be able to go for these walks anymore. Tonight I am making haste to post Cindy Evans and Rita Marie Recine's summer poems.  I'll start with Cindy.

 Summer Memory 
    (to my dad)

I still smile when I think of it,

there on the beach during vacation,

the band is playing on the stage,

we sway and move in motion...

You smile and remember

words from days gone by,

now brought alive again -

you sing along and so do I.

The waves gently lap in view

and there is a seagull or two

and the sun is setting

in brilliant glory and hues...

The band stops to take a break

and we stretch our legs some,

looking forward to the next set;

bring on the tunes and fun!

Cindy Evans

I've posted the picture above because I'm starting to prepare for the fall!  We'll pretend that he is relaxing after his Summer II classes.

Next is Canadian poet Rita Marie Recine's poem, which has also appeared at Poetry Pasta:

Music and life go hand in hand

Music  has given us  so much from generation to generation,
beginning with the  radio to the record player
music shall forever be
From  our ancestors, our parents,  siblings, children , spouses, for you and me

Sitting by the window sill

It's raining out

I focus on the phonograph   across the room

On the console table looking so gallant and stoic


It is of colour golden , plays all  types of music

Music similar to a bird ,  so sweet ,

Music ,  gives and receives in return.

Music and its tune are   fresh to hear far or near

Thanks to life we have music

Music for the singers we have admiration, music is a celebration

For all occasions, event and milestone

Music may be heard in  a group or on your own

Thanks to music , thanks to life

Music  eases our  mind and strengthens our soul

Music is  profilic,   makes us whole

Music, heart ache  , break ups and make  ups

Music takes us far away

all is joyous and melodious

 A ballad a sonnet rock n roll and country too

All are my favourite, depending the season depending the reason.

I listen to many songs.

 All  are right none are wrong

Music is one’s  dream , whether alone or in a team

Whether in two or a choir of 22

Music is beautiful, the tunes affect us all

The different chords instruments and ballads too

Music and life go hand in hand

We may shake to the rock n roll

Country give us breakups and make ups  ups

Talks about first love and up above

I sing and dance to the music which is around me .

Feeling blessed and feeling free

Music  and life go hand in hand

Opera give us the voice of divinity

Music equal infinity.

Whatever we  choose to listen too… it is always new

Provides pleasures, not annoyance

Strumming guitars, pianos and violins

All are diverse but all are love.

Music and life go hand in hand

Music captures our inner souls

Rock in roll and country  is my favourite

Would not have it any other way]

Thanks to life thanks to music

I choose it

Music gives  and one receives  .

one of life’s  best pleaseures

No one can relinquish

Music  and life go hand in hand

The different instruments , a ballad, rock n roll, country you choose

Whatever your  preference you never lose

Music  and life go hand in hand

I have danced barefoot  to my favourite tune,

 or sat quietly singing the  lyrics of new moon

Music enriches our lives

During trials and tribulations …music is a friend till the end

We must not pretend

All emotions are diverse yet all is the same

Music  and life go hand in hand

Music is an inspiration for poets, writers and artists .

A staple in our homes, no matter the gene, the style

Music eases our souls for awhile

Turning  a difficult  day into a relaxing one

A painful  moment into a joyous one

Music is  divine

with food and wine

Music  and life go hand in hand

Everyone likes different genres

Whatever the note
with  music we are all one

Thanks to music which has enriched our lives  much.
Rock roll country and much more
Music and life go hand in hand

Music  gives us distinctions from one chord to another ….
Enjoying every instrument like no other
music speaks about first love make ups and break ups
In my life I have enjoyed music in abundance

night and the morn, dark days and joyous days
Music may entice
The same song may be heard once twice  or thrice.

Music and life go hand in hand
All alone or in  a band
In our homes or in  the park
Hearing crickets and  birds in the dark

Music   reminds us of yesterday.
 Recalling our loved ones voices
    A graceful sound
The words, the tune I declare make us think and become aware
Music and life go hand in hand

Music has given us strength to our tiresome  feet,
As we walked the valleys and the courtyards

Arriving   home music is what made us smile  along the way
Music and life go hand in hand

music has given my beating heart and my eyes a magical feeling
Music and life go hand in hand

Thanks to music and life
Between crying and laughing
Music has provided me with the distinction between sadness and joy 
music is about both.

Music and life go hand in hand
Ritamarie Recine
July 19, 2015

Having finished reading Rita's poem, I have to post some songs from Stevie Wonder's Songs In the Key of Life.  I'll start with his "I Wish":

Here is his "I'll Be Loving You Always":

I must remember "Sir Duke," a song that was constantly on the radio back in the day:

I forget whether "Superstition" was on that album, but here it is anyway:

I'll finish with "Have a Talk With God," a song that I remember from when I listened to the whole album:

Saturday, August 8, 2015

More Summer Music

As I was saying to a friend of mine, since I teach, August is more like pre-fall than summer to me. However, it is summer for almost everyone in this hemisphere, so tonight, I would like to post more poems from the summer music contest.  First is "Summer Music" from David Rodrigues, a poet from Portugal.


Summer music
Is not heard by ears.
Is composed inside each person
Full of brief and minimal pauses
Between long notes
Sung by the bees flight,
By the buzzer chants,
And by the sound of midday sun
Smashing the earth.

Summer music has not sound:
Is felt by bodies longed for daybreaks,
for twilights, for fiestas, for siestas.
Everything is real in this music
With all smells, all tastes
All touches, all sights.
The silence is real too.
Because it comes from inside
and can be heard by the bodies only
and for who loves them.

David Rodrigues,
Lisbon, Portugal.

Karen O'Leary's poem is about summer storms, another feature of this season, which some of us love and others have had far too much of.  I personally love that storms chase heat and humidity away.

Storm Music

The mighty thunder claps its warning signs,
With haunting restless rhythm sets the stage.
The whistling wind, melodic as it whines,
An eerie chorus clamors loud with rage.

In gentle harmony and background song.
The swishing, rustling leaves respond anew.
A broken gate in motion squeaks along,
Unhindered earthy tones are humming too.

The pitter-patter drummed by steady rain
Is nature’s lulling song to those who hear.
Enchanted groans explode in clashing strain,
Surprise the soul and boldly claim the ear.

Intrigued by primal rhythms fresh and free,
The stormy music captures you and me.

By Karen O'Leary

Despite what David wrote in his poem, I would like to include a little summer music here, too.  These songs will get you ready for the fall contests, specifically the Latin Jazz contest.

Here Tito Puente performs Ran Kan Kan in Orchard Beach, which I believe is in the Bronx.

In this video, he is with Celia Cruz:

Mongo Santamaria's "Watermelon Man" is another summer song:

Poncho Sanchez is performing at another summer festival, this one being in Laguna Beach:

I'll finish with Danilo Perez.  What is more summery than a Friday Morning?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Congratulations to the Nominees for 2014/5 Best of the Net

copyright 2014, Regina A. Walker

Last night I nominated six poems for the Best of the Net Anthology.  To be eligible, poems must have been published online between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.  It was fun to go back over the previous year's work, but it was also difficult as so many poems stand out.  Below are the ones I finally chose.  

The first is Regina A. Walker's "Hireath" (published on October 1, 2014):

Next is Martin Willits, Jr.'s "The Elephant on the Keyboards" (published on October 16, 2014):

Ed Schelb's "Bird Call Dance Hall" is a graphic poem published on November 6, 2014:

Felino A. Soriano's "Underneath" (published on November 21, 2014) was inspired by the music of pianist and composer Vijay Iyer.

I would also like to nominate Avis D. Matthews' "Chicago, 1971, for my Aunt DeWana" (published on March 10, 2015):

My final nomination is Mary Jo Balistreri's "Star Light, Star Bright," which was published on June 2, 2015:

And thank you, Holly Holt, editor of Walking Is Still Honest, for telling me how to nominate these fine poets and their poems.  I am looking forward to nominating more poems next summer.

I'll finish with some music to accompany these wonderful poems and take us back through the past year.

"Hireath" started off the Gene Clark contest, so I will post his "In a Misty Morning," a song that continues to impress me:

Here is a different take of Thelonious Monk's "Ugly Beauty" that ended up being included in the 1988 documentary Straight No Chaser:

If you prefer music without dialogue, here is the album version of this song:

When I posted "Bird Call Dance Hall," one of the songs I included was Clark's "Life's Greatest Fool," so here it is again:

One of Felino's many inspirations, Vijay Iyer performs here with the Brentano String Quartet:

I'll play Fanny's "Summer Song" to accompany Avis' poem for her aunt.

Although I didn't know about Jan Lisiecki's performances of Chopin until recently, I am posting this to accompany Mary Jo's beautiful poem:

Best of luck to our nominees!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer Music from Joan McNerney

Tonight Joan McNerney joins the summer music challenge.  Since she has written a number of poems inspired by paintings, I thought I'd post Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" above her poem.


Our sky is brocaded with stars
born from nebulous clouds.
Clouds weaving in heaven
drifting through airy dance.
Tango of helium hydrogen
sizzling up like fireworks
blazing bursting open.

The air grows redolent with
clusters of night blooming jasmine.
Blue starlight glides over
black horizon.  Cosmic butterfly
ballet---tonight the moon is new.

Joan McNerney


That summer I wanted to
take off all my clothes.
Be naked under the sun.
Tango all over warm grass,
so warm, warm.

Noontime perfumed berries
and lush grass.  Beneath honey
locust through hushed woods
We found this spring,
a secret susurrus disco.

My feet began two-stepping
over slippery pebbles.
Threading soft water
the sun dresses us in
golden sequins.

Your hand reaches for me.

Joan McNerney

Night Waltz

O Michael tonight
I am dreaming of you.

We trace night while
skipping up slender
ladders of darkness
past the full moon.

Over silver light into
star light we dance
through air redolent
with lilacs.  Your eyes
glow like burning comets
as we waltz over clouds.

O Michael tonight
I dreamed of you and
woke to find you
sleeping at my side.

 Joan McNerney

Clifford Brown's version of "Stardust" will be a fine accompaniment for Joan's poems:

I think you may enjoy Don McLean's tribute to Vincent Van Gogh:

I know I've posted "Night in Tunisia" before, but it goes so well with Joan's poems:

Let's finish with the Modern Jazz All-Stars' version of "Memories of You":


Monday, August 3, 2015

Poems by Alex Conrad

This evening I would like to post Alex Conrad's poems.  I enjoyed reading them when he was my student in ENGL 272 this past spring, and I think that they will move you as well.  You may recognize Alex's name as he interviewed Valeri Beers:

I would not be surprised if someone will be interviewing Alex soon!

Self-Portraiture as A Rain-soaked Weeping Willow
By Alex Conrad

Sweeping away the iniquities.
Wiping away the tears.
The bark bites no more.
The roots wrap rightly around rich earth.

Elongated and righteous,
It stands strong and firm.
The rain rinses relativities away.
Prejudice has no grasp anymore.

Love has wound down the strength,
Forbearance finds its place.
Patiently passing people
Perplexes the tree.

Says the wise tree,
“I have seen many years of suffering,
Life has not been too kind to me.”
No one hears him.

But suddenly things change.
Sunlight washes through the branches.
Things are looking up.
As I look down.

In the poem below, Alex combines English and French.

Within the Darkness of Dusk
By Alex Conrad

Dans l'ombre du crépuscule
Je m’assise sur le terre.

In the shadows of twilight 
I sit on the earth.

J’écoute les bruit des animaux.
Je me s’enlacent dans un arbre. 

I listen to the sounds of the animals.
I entwine myself within a tree.

J'aime dormir sous les étoiles.
Je me sens sentiment de confort leur chaleur.

I like to sleep under the stars.
I feel comfortable feeling their warmth.

Les loups me nourris à la santé.
Je les aime pour cela.

The wolves nursed me to health.
I love them for it.

Bonsoir mes amours!
Je vous verrai dans la matinée!

Good night my loves!
I will see you in the morning!

By Alex Conrad

To be shot in the foot,
Isn’t it a silly way to go down?
But when it came to turning the tides of battle,
It did its job.
Humans have their weaknesses,
And I have mine.
Human attraction is a dangerous game to play.
One man may be too beautiful for words,
But appearances can be deceiving…
For what may be beautiful on the outside,
May only be a Hydra lurking inside.
Another man may be kind and sweet at the outset,
But becomes coarse and unmannerly over time.
Nessus can only be slain once, 
But my heart was stolen by Narcissus.  

Medusa was once beautiful.
So was I,
But so bitter I became,
That my good qualities began to be overshadowed
By the ugliness of hatred,

I believe no one really means what they say,
Especially if it’s nice.
Compliments are empty threats,
They mean nothing,
As if they are feeding the heads of Cerberus,
Who, in turn, spits it back in their face, 
Devilishly laughing in their face.

In spite I spit your good-nature into the pit of Tartarus.
And watch it fall, fall, fall, deep into the depths of my black heart.
Where it is nowhere to be found ever again.

Of course, I must post Nina Simone's version of "Willow, Weep For Me":

If you prefer instrumentals, here is Dexter Gordon's version from his album, Our Man in Paris:

Since crepescule is French for twilight, I'll post "Crepuscule with Nellie."  The Thelonious Monk Quartet performs this piece with John Coltrane:

I couldn't find a jazz song about Achilles, so here is a link to Cream's "Tales of Brave Ulysses":

To finish, here is the MW Jazz Quartet's blend of jazz and traditional Greek music: