Sunday, January 31, 2016

Words and Images by Daniel de Culla

This evening I'd like to post some words and images from the international poet Daniel de Culla.  Enjoy!


This place, this time, this way

Oh, that place

It’s just where one feed the wind.

Walking to the river

The lover girl with eyes and heart in center

Her body with smoke and desire

Goes to find one place where she

And her lover friend stopped on the banks.

The Sun has its tide home going

Flashing the light thru the bush

Over the stream.

Love is on the same line of the river

And their Love is like a wheel.

She dreams with the only man to snore

A comfortable life.

Probably not?

She laughs at first looking for lover friend

Suddenly realizing his freedom only

Thinking to fall in Love

Toy with divertice

Even if he did blow over just being able

To pick up and come.

-Man, presence/absence

Is what makes this place so tolerable?

With my man I wll not be lonely

I will sense no mistake.

She feels her lover friend behind her

With a smile wider than his bronzed face


-Pretty, do You want to dance with me?

The Lovers pretty much

On their own into the shrubs:

The space of Love here¡

Translucency privileged to see

The union of sky and earth

Because they lived at the edge of Love:

Boy traveling her openness

In his girl venture now

She saying to plant a flower in her patio

And he saying then throw that check away

Lady “because I want to seal yr urn”.

-Love me, sir¡ she exclaimed.

Love exploded with them

Saying She:

Our bodies producing two flowers

And only together do we form a whole


We feel in Love with these pieces

Of sky and earth

Let us hear the pure light

Shining steady thru the Vulva

Opened for FireFlower

And be content.


Love has gotten us

Into this Ecstasy. -Daniel de Cullá

Since the fall/winter contests are now over, I'd like to play some music to prepare us for the spring/summer contests (inspired by Latin culture and/or jazz musicians born in the 1920s).  
Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain seems to fit the bill here.

I'll be posting the rest of the poems from the fall/winter contests throughout February.  Then, in March, the judges will be reading the poems.  I will announce the winners after they come to a decision.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dizzy Gillespie (and Adrian Ernesto Cepeda)

Tonight I'd like to welcome the L.A. writer Adrian Ernesto Cepeda to The Song Is....  I'm quite pleased to see that Dizzy Gillespie is now represented among our musicians in the fall/winter contests!

The Sound of Surprise
When those cheeks expand and he exhales
his breath within notes, as his horn blows
I almost explode, dizzy with enlightenment.
There something about the rhythm, the air
of his playing, speaking with his mouth
and expressing such beauty on his canvas
of air, gripping his golden trumpet,
and all of the treasures he gifts us, even
when the vinyl is crackling back to the
Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac eyes closed
ears open, feeling the wind alone as Gillespie
takes us, each slight return so adventurous,
while reaching inside his melody lingers
resounding this cheeky giant from his
distance, sonically appearing even as
the needle uplifts us, we feel closer to home.    

Adrian Ernesto Cepeda


Adrian Ernesto Cepeda is an LA Poet who is currently enrolled in the MFA Graduate program at Antioch University in Los Angeles where he lives with his wife and their cat Woody Gold. His poetry has been featured in The Yellow Chair Review, Thick With Conviction, Silver Birch Press and one of his poems was named Cultured Vultures’ Top 3 Poems of the Week. You can connect with Adrian on his website:

Let's listen to some Dizzy Gillespie!

This version of "Salt Peanuts" is from 1947:

This version of "Night in Tunisia" was recorded in Havana.  Arturo Sandoval also appears here:

Here Dizzy plays with Louis Armstrong:

"Groovin High" features Dizzy with Charlie Parker:

I want to add a version of "Birks Works" from 1981:

Enjoy!  Perhaps this music will inspire you to write.  :)  Or to buy a t-shirt.  I think that this is the t-shirt my husband used to have back in the day.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Pijush Kanti Deb (and His Poetry)

This evening I'd like to post some new poems that the prolific Indian poet Pijush Kanti Deb has recently sent me.  Let's leave behind the snow in the Northeast to explore Pijush's world.

An Ascetic Pretends…
               By   Pijush Kanti Deb

Maybe, an ascetic is not at all
a member of the bellicose’s club
or is not by any means
happy to be defined as a biped
it’s ought not to be censored
if he pretends himself
to be a bovine-
a ferocious dodger
against the stirring of the red eyes
at his peaceful existence,
to be an effective antidote
for assimilating the hemlock
used by the conspirators
against his own-produced nectar,
to be a wise retaliator
for turning the poisonous arrows
thrown to his paradise into boomerang
against their haughty acceleration
and it’s ought not to be misunderstood
if he sleeps sound
hanging some pieces of frightening tits
on his open doors and windows
against the suspicious outsiders
who loiter around his sweet home
carrying some pieces of aggressive tats.

Let The Cat Out Of Bag
           By Pijush Kanti Deb

Our canoe dances
on the blue stage of a mid-ocean
following the rhythm of the singing waves
as they have met after a long time
and we-
me and my pretty wife,
the two love-birds feel good
in enjoying
the pleasing expression of their sizzling emotion
sitting on our own bags,
kissing each other
and swearing  too
in the name of love
to be attached together always
ignoring any change of time and situation
as we are fearless
to open our bags and let the cats out of these
to fight against the probable calamity.

A Few Pages of Our Love-Story
          By Pijush Kanti Deb

No doubt she is beautiful
to attract the flock of honey seekers
and wise too
to turn her heart to good account
and to take time by the forelock
the prompt ensnaring
of the sun and the moon
to brighten her days and nights
and of the blossoms
bloomed around her protected domain,
to fill her open air and sky
with soul-soothing scent
and in my case,
I am enchanted
in her first round of demonstration
on the floor of my lonely life
and mesmerized
to her first ray of blazing beauty
first aroma of blooming virtues
and first smile at my bewitched eyes
my watches to sneak away
from my wall and wrist
my three entities-
body, mind and soul
to exchange themselves together
to buy her wonderful heart
and myself to start conceiving and writing
a few pages of our love story.

Pijush, by the way, has just started a new blog-zine, Poebita Poetry Magazine:

I encourage you to take a look at his site.  I also encourage you to send in poetry for the fall/winter contests.  We have just a few days to go until the contests' end.

I'm not sure how much Art Tatum or Johnny Hodges I've posted, but I think that they would be worth including tonight.

Here Art Tatum plays "All The Things You Are":

With Ben Webster, he plays "Where or When":

This is Johnny Hodges' "All of Me":

We'll finish with "Isfahan":

Friday, January 22, 2016

Jack Douthitt's Jazz Tanka

Tonight as the snow storm continues I'd like to post some of Jack Douthitt's jazz tanka.  The first responds to Stephane Grapelli (who is depicted above).

Stephane Grappelli
Runnin’ Wild

piano riff opens
then the violin
runs wild
like Paganini
never imagined

I'm always happy to see a poet who is inspired by "Sing, Sing, Sing," one of my favorites.

Benny Goodman
Sing Sing Sing
1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert

The band ripped
Carnegie Hall apart
with Sing Sing Sing.
We danced in the aisles
happy and exuberant

(first published in Riffin’Around
a chapbook by Jack Douthitt)

Count Basie
One O’Clock Jump
Count Basie at Newport

Basie plinks
piano and bass noodle
the rest of the band
can’t stay quiet…
because it’s one o’clock

I hope that you enjoy Jack's jazz tanka.  I always enjoy publishing a new-to-me poet, and this time he has brought a new-to-this-blog-zine poetic form.  Now that I am teaching my online poetry course again, I am looking forward to sharing these and other poems with my students!

Let's finish with some music to go with these poems.

Here is a live version of "Runnin' Wild" from 1937,  Django Reinhardt joins Grappelli in this performance.

Grappelli plays with David Grisman here:  "Sweet Georgia Brown" is a very appropriate song as I have the Warriors game going in the background.

There are many different versions of "Sing, Sing, Sing," but this version is the 1938 Carnegie Hall one:

This video of "Stompin at the Savoy" includes a montage of Goodman and his orchestra:

This version of Count Basie's "One O'Clock Jump" is from 1943:

Count Basie joins with Sinatra on "Fly Me to the Moon" here:

Enjoy, and stay safe in this storm!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Fall & Winter Haiku from John McDonald

Even though the snow is not supposed to come until the weekend, tonight feels like the night before a snow day.  I think I'll take the time to post John McDonald's fall and winter haiku.  A number of his fall haiku reference the rowan tree, which Americans may know as the mountain ash.  Above is a picture of a rowan tree in Scotland.


chestnut rowan and birch  -
autumn lights
through the valley


night watchman
doing his rounds  -
full moon


in the sun
stretching an elegant leg  -
the monastery cat


frosty morning  -
out from a jar
the dried lavender's blue breath


his shoes
left out all night  -
full of leaves


cold morning
the childrens' red faces  -
rowan berries too


empty playground  -
leaves roll over
the hopscotch beds

Photography by Juan Tituana
Christmas eve -
the hostel full
of one-time santas


full moon -
the skaters glide
in tranquillity


stinging hailstones -
the guitarist's
blue fingers


old lady
gathering holly
beads of blood


cobbles glitter in the rain -
the clown's face
drips into his pail


Christmas snow -
each tree
bearing its brother


through naked branches
the old cow stares:


the autistic boy
conducts his own carols -
gulls beseeching


Christmas flooding -
an underwater

Let's start with Hank Jones' "Alone Together."

I've been listening to his "I Remember You" quite a bit:

Here he plays with his brother the drummer, Elvin Jones:

This is a longer selection, but it shows the length and versatility of Hank Jones' career.  At the time of this 2006 performance, he was in his eighties.

His "Yardbird Suite" (with his quartet) is from 2009 and sounds very energetic:

Photography by Juan Tituana

Friday, January 15, 2016

Winter Poems by Karen O'Leary

Photography by Juan Tituana

Karen O'Leary's poetry community Whispers is remarkable for many things.  One of them happens to be its celebration of the winter season.  Perhaps one or two poets grumble about the cold, but most celebrate the beauty of this season.  Tonight I'd like to post some of Karen's own winter poetry, starting with her "Winter of Opportunity."

Winter of Opportunity
clean white,
refreshing snow
covers the past’s debris…
a season for new beginnings
and hope

Photography by Juan Tituana

Shattered Dreams
moon peeks
through a frosty pane--
the wind moans
used dixie cups
strewn on the counter--
empty days
divorce papers
among the clutter--
broken promises
wedding picture
slides into the trash--
one becomes two

Photography by Juan Tituana
Winter Art
winter gems
cling to barren trees
dressing imperfections
in a long shimmering gown.
Art that twinkles in the moonlight,
beckoning nature’s viewers to pause
and share in the splendor before it melts.

Photography by Juan Tituana

Let's finish up with some music.  "Winter Wonderland" really is not a Christmas song...just a winter song.

I want to add a couple of songs by David Bowie.  The first is his "Letter to Hermione," a song that Robert Glasper has covered.

I haven't listened to Bowie's Blackstar yet, but I'd like to post his "Lazarus."

I'll finish with Hank Jones' "Little Girl Blue."

Just a reminder that the fall/winter contests continue until Jan. 30!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Mark Antony Rossi and Will Mayo

This evening I would like to introduce Mark Antony Rossi and his poems inspired by music.  Of course, he is not a novice poet, but this is his first appearance at The Song Is...  Let's start with his poem "The Song Is."

The Song Is

The song is

mixed up shit

made to seem whole

but inspiration often arrives

at moments of desperation

and offspring are born

not by choice

but by love.


                                               Preaching to a Fine Guitar Player

                                                 Andy do not let the song
                                                to another player,
                                                another disposable package
                                                for public consumption.

                                                We deserve better.

                                                A long cigarette drag,
                                                a bowl of rice,
                                                barefoot on the floor
                                                baring your soul,
                                                unmasking meaning
                                                in a life opposed
                                                to daring
                                                and dreaming.

                                                Grant us more
                                                than godless machine,
                                                studios wiped clean
                                                of blue tears
                                                  smeared on strings;
                                                raw fingers
                                                amplifying truth
                                                out of a cold cave
                                                called Life.

                                                Andy do not let the song
                                                settle in the septic tank
                                                of lost talent,
                                                so much of this world
                                                is already flushed.

                                                You deserve better.

                    Short Poem for the Bluesmen

                    dark damp basement tavern
                    a wailing bluesman
                    in delightful homage
                    to women
                            of hard currency
                            and easy virtue.

                     deep copper-coloured whiskey
                     makes its home in hearts
                     of weary
                     troupe players
                      before performance;
                      found thirsty for affection,
                      an affection
                      an audience
                      one drink at a time.


                                                           Birth of an Artist

                                                            once a guitar lay silent
                                                           just as a cemetery,
                                                           a slab of ghost-free wood
                                                           used to warm bones.

                                                           until a man found fingers
                                                           undressing nylon strings
                                                           some lonely evening.

                                                           his fear was full-nelsoned
                                                           and radio trembled
                                                           at the thought of music
                                                           unable to sell light beer.

Mark Antony Rossi's poetry, criticism, fiction and photography have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Another Chicago Review, Bareback Magazine, Black Heart Review, Collages & Bricolages, Death Throes,  Ethical Spectacle, Gravel, Flash Fiction, Japanophile, On The Rusk, Purple Patch, Scrivener Creative Review, Sentiment Literary Journal, The Sacrificial ,Wild Quarterly and Yellow Chair Review.

Will Mayo's poems and flash fiction complement Mark Antony's pieces well while also taking us in a different direction.

Autumn Mill, 1998


Will Mayo

whiskey tastes good in the fall.

firewater runs down the throat,

with just the right medicinal flavor to boot.

arms move all akimbo;

mouth utters words it knows not.

days pass by amid the rustling leaves

and one man knows no slumber.

the nights, too, shall pass by

as the wild bird sings.

then time will sit in the glass

and be consumed

one by one.

The Song That Saved Our Lives
Will Mayo

I'll never forget that night at Cactus Flats. that country western bar up on Highway 15 outside of Frederick Md about 5 years ago. My father and I were seated there, two old school types among the bikers and the good old boys for one last beer before the time was done. Myself, however, I had had enough of the whole show. I'd drunk down the beer easy and quick-like, eager to be back to my books and the old fashioned computing machine. Some habits die hard, sad to say.

But my father held up his hand. "Wait a minute," he said.” There’s one last song to be sung before the night is done."

For it was karaoke night, time for the singalong with all good boys and girls out of tune. And one last singer remained, a young African American woman with no accompaniment, no microphone even. She stood up there in biker babe heaven as the light shined bright on her ebony face and she began to sing a sweet song of grace.

"Amazing grace," she sang. "How sweet thou save a wretch like me..." And oh how well her voice filled the bar to the rafters. It was as if the angels themselves had descended from heaven for such a song.

All the bar sat in awe to hear this girl sing. Ahead in the distance, it was as if we could hear a chorus of cymbals, a mighty thunderclap from off of Cactoctin Mountain perhaps. And then she was done.

The bar was quiet for a mere handful of seconds before applause filled up the tavern and echoed down the road. I turned to my father and said, "Thanks. That was worth waiting for." "Sure thing," he replied. We headed to the car.

Not five minutes later, our little car headed out of the dusty roundabout and saw then an enormous pile of cars and trucks at the exit back onto the highway. Blinking lights and sirens lit up the night and we knew then that had we not stayed for that simple song of grace then we'd surely be at the bottom of that tumble of automotive hell. The young woman had saved our lives that summer evening. I never did learn her name.

 Given the theme of this entry, I'd like to focus on the guitar.  Let's start with Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress":

I saw that Metheny has covered "The Sound of Silence":

Kenny Burrell takes a different approach with his version of "All Blues":

Here is Wes Montgomery's version of "Round Midnight":

Joe Pass performs "Joe's Blues" and discusses improvisation:

I'll finish with some Django Reinhardt:   He was born in 1910, which makes him fair game for the fall/winter contests!  (See this link for more information: .)