Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mike Bayles Finishes Up the Fall/Winter Contests....

with a pantoum....

A Gray Stillness Found

a spell of gray morning
warmer after the cold front
desires stirred by a silent calling
waiting for spring

warmer after the cold front
a day of passage I find
waiting for spring
a dream longing for the sun

a day of passage I find
the journey of shadows
a dream longing for the sun
melting into heartfelt desires

the journey of shadows
along the road where I live and die
melting into heartfelt desires
as this winter unwinds

along the road where I live and die
silent conversations with untold spirits
as this winter unwinds
a calling of time

silent conversations with untold spirits
the silent song
a calling of time
in a moment, an eternity of desires

The next poem is not a pantoum.  Instead, it evokes winter in a Midwestern park.

A Winter Day at the Prairie Preserve

Golden prairie grasses standing still
surround a frozen pond at the edge of town.
Misty skies of a winter day cast a spell
cutting through my thin gloves,
and I feel a chill run through me.
I feel the weight of a change of weather
after a brief thaw in January.
Stillness in the air speaks of life and death
on an ageless land where I hold my sign.
Distant headlights cut through the haze
as omens when I look down the road.
People in passing cars wave
as if long-lost friends,
the women and children
the golden retriever sticking his head
out an open window,
and I feel a sense of longing
for a life I once had.
In solitude I hold secret conversations
with spirits in the air.
Gaggles of squawking geese
hold conversations echoing around me.
Entwined formations swirl
creating a cloud in the sky
until they land on the frozen pond and stay.
A woman with a red coat in the haze
walks alone on a path next to the pond
and over a patch of ice,
arms slightly outstretched to her side
like wings of a bird. 


Mike Bayles, a lifelong Midwest resident, writes poetry about human connections with nature and rural settings, and connections with each other. He is the author of three books of poetry: The Harbor I Seek, The Rabbit House and Threshold. Threshold won the 2013 Book of the Year Award from Rockford Writers' Guild. WVIK, Augustana Public Radio, has featured his writing.

Thank you, Mary Jo, for introducing Mike to me, and thank you, Angelee, for letting us know about the poetry challenge where we met.

Let's finish with a little music.

We'll start with the Mulgrew Miller Trio's version of "Skylark," performed at the Kennedy Center:

Here they play "What a Difference a Day Makes."  It's not necessarily a song about the transition from winter to spring, but it will do!

I'm switching gears a little bit, but I read about harpist Brandee Younger the other day, and I wanted to post some of her music.  

Here she and her trio play "Games," a song that Dorothy Ashby included in her remarkable album Soul Harping:

Younger also composes her own work.  Here is her "Respected Destroyer":

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

John MacDonald (and Monk)

 Tonight as we turn back to winter I'd like to post John MacDonald's poem in the fall/winter contest.   

Those Parties We Talk Shit about Monk

"I didn't like his comping," she said to the gray yellow


that settles in

about 2 am,

"Too much stabbing…"


she made stabbing motions


with piano-leg-claw hands, with mad


tangle glistening


of sanpaku eyes.

It made us


laugh (especially her)

, and a bottle of ginger vodka Doug made went round and


sweet and sharp

and so=o=o=o dangerous, like...

"… those chords…

they were so pointy,"

somebody said (maybe me), "… wouldn't

stand up like
some pretty white vase,


curve of red rose

, he (Monk) had to grab 'em and


about a foot apart, maybe, kinda


kinda perfect,


he could string melody


He wanted

a fence

for everyone to c-l-i-i-m-m-m-b

up so

carefully through,

so carefully down…"

but here

am I tangled in that fence


, at least until the B

side's finished

(what would you do?)

I laugh

about that poor


put up a struggle in the

barbed wire, watching

the moon over the the ruined castle,

until the blood flowed over

the keys and down the black varnished legs onto

the floor


I slept

for the night.

Oh right.

That was me...

… and that bottle of ginger vodka Doug made
goes round and round like

an emery grinder,


the knife note edge,

dulling the barbed wire

melody into end-

of-party iron filings piling on the


The picture above is certainly not John's party.  It's from 1947 and depicts Dizzy Gillespie, Hank Jones, Thad Dameron, Mary Lou Williams, and Milt Orent.  However, I like this picture with John's poem.

I've posted so many of Monk's songs here, so I hope that these are not duplicates.

Here is "Let's Call This" with Sonny Rollins as well:

Although it sounds similar to some other songs, this is "Hackensack":

"Friday the 13th" also features Monk and Rollins:

I'll finish with their version of "The Way You Look Tonight":