Saturday, May 28, 2016

Felino A. Soriano's Tribute to Miles Davis

This March Felino A. Soriano began a new series, "Of this Momentum Song."  The poem below is forty-second in the series, and he has written it especially for The Song Is... and the contest honoring musicians born in the 1920s.  Enjoy!  I especially like how Felino conveys the physical act of playing music and the centrality of rhythm.

Of this Momentum Song (forty-two)

                           Don’t play what’s there, play what’s not there.
                             —Miles Davis                       

    To be near ________,
      is what
   here needs it
      to be, an unnamed
    name is only
       ________ when
mouth closes, excavating
  rhythm in all
 language, when
   then here is again
 and why we ________
   answered atop
 a silence of small
    stone: the flecks
  within the reflect
     hold the hand
   of what watches,
       how or when
 breath of our going,
  _________.  We come
to drink of/from.  The
   promise held to
 how we name the
    unnamed.  Paused
  intuition, we’ve a
     nuance in our
 motivated ________,
  freeing fathom can
 reinvent the mouth.


   Tongue: blurred wing
  song of clapping
     hands.  Hands:
  bilingual caliber, ________
   what we need
to invent, unaltered.

    Organized, we hour by
   the sound of it, sound-
     ing out to open
   in incremental minutes.
  Certain these angles
    plagiarize shape,
 is familiar,

  known then replaced
 into what finds

           a self-outside
   the self, privileged,



If you would like to read other poems in "Of this Momentum Song," see this link:

Let's start with something from Milestones.  The first link is to the title cut, and the second is to "Dr. Jackle."

Here is his "All Blues":

I want to play two from Miles in the Sky, the album my husband was playing this morning.  The first is "Black Comedy":  The second is "Country Son":

I'll finish with a live version of his "Portia," a later composition:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rita Marie Recine & BB King

B.B. King is among the many musicians born in the 1920s, so I thought I'd repost Rita Marie Recine's tribute to him.  I was fortunate enough to see him towards the end of his life, and even though he was sitting in a chair all evening, he gave an inspiring performance.  

A salute to BB King
Remembering 16

From Gospel music to the blues.
To you we salute.
Inducted into the hall of fame
Everyone knew your name.
The Thrill is now gone,
With your legendary music we all have won.

Time to rest.
Playing up in heaven with the best.
Formerly known as the  three kings.
The thrill is  gone.
A salute to BB King .
King of blues and jazz
Among other things

The thrill is  gone,remembering 16
With your music Mr. King we have won.
You were the champion no one can forget
You were the BOSS.
Played guitar with such class
A legend like no other
Remembering 16

A friend  to the music industry.
Your music has touched many lives
Children, father's and mothers
from generation to generation
NO one can replace.
You sang the tune.
Stars, sun , and moon.
remembering 16

Today you play with the best
strumming up above
Janis, Jimi, Elvis to name a few.
Let the good times roll .
in heaven...
The thrill is gone
Remembering 16

As your memory continues day by day
With your music we dance and sway
To have heard your music is  to love.
Similar as the the sweet sound of a dove.
You are the legend .
You are the King of Blues and Jazz
your artistry has made people laugh, dance and sing.

You have sung happy birthday.
A celebration , your creation. Mr. King.

From every walk of life .
From the rich and poor.
from generation to generation
you made the world smile.
Remembering 16
Sir you walk with the Lord.
He rejoices in your melodies.

May we all rejoice in harmony for the thrill on earth may be  gone
remembering 16 , we have won.
Play up in the heavens with all who have crossed over .
Have a rock n roll heaven, with an abundance of blues
Mr BB King thank you for your music , keeping it real 
I believe in forever, Your artistry is genial and will never tarnish,
for  our natural life is truly a one night stand.
Remembering 16
ritamarie recine
May 7, 2016

I'll post a few of BB King's performances.  First, of course, he and Ruth Brown perform "You're the Boss."

I didn't know that another song of his was "Paying the Cost to be the Boss":

I'll include his song "Lucille":

I've always liked his version of "Riding with the King":

Here he plays with not only Eric Clapton but also Stevie Ray Vaughn:

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Requiem for Elvin and Philly Joe

I really love it when a new-to-me poet submits some poetry and it's about a (slightly) less well known musician. Thank you, Glen Armstrong, for sending along this tribute to Elvin and Philly Joe Jones.

Requiem for Elvin and Philly Joe

I’ve heard bodies
become music / become other bodies

experimental at first then
breathing / catching

asynchronous as all
phantasms must be

warming / returning
to a pulse

sometimes at night Pontiac Michigan

and the so-called Badlands
of Philadelphia

echo / ring / divide
as if by hand
and stick

dividing a ride cymbal
into unexpected 3s / galloping 4s
as if these cities

might at any moment


Glen Armstrong holds an MFA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches writing at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He edits a poetry journal called Cruel Garters and has three recent chapbooks:Set List (Bitchin Kitsch,) In Stone and The Most Awkward Silence of All (both Cruel Garters Press.) His work has appeared in Poetry NorthwestConduit and Cream City Review.


With all this emphasis on the drums, I feel like I am back grading papers again, playing lots of drum-heavy YouTube videos to keep me going.  (I just can't drink coffee anymore.)  But let's take a listen to some videos featuring both Philly Joe Jones and Elvin Jones.

Here they play their version of "Brown Sugar":

If you want to watch Philly Joe Jones in action, watch this clip of him from 1978:

It's not Halloween, and vampires are out of vogue now, but you might like "Blues for Dracula":

My husband has just vetoed "Blues for Dracula," so here is a video of Elvin Jones in action:

I'll finish up with his "Anti-Calypso":

There is a lot more that I could post, but I will finish now.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Bill Cushing & Will Mayo

Tonight I'd like to post Bill Cushing's "On Modest Mussourgsky's 'Bydlo'" -- a poem inspired by one movement of Pictures at an Exhibition, a suite composed in memory of Victor Hartmann, Mussourgsky's close friend, an artist who had died at the age of thirty nine.  


                        A shape appears
                        and is gone,
                        comes into view,
                        disappears, until,
                        cresting the hill,
                        the spot
                        blotting the sun,
                        a cartload of hay,
                        takes shape.

                        the wagon,
                        oxen-drawn, a juggernaut pulled
                        by two thousand pounds,
                        rolls between fields--
                        grinding dirt,
                        crushing stones.

                        Sweating flanks
                        of coarse,
                        matted hair
                        cause slow,
                        rhythmic hammering,
                        dull thunder
                        as hooves pound earth.
                        The ground moves
                        to the sound
                        of these hardened

                        Beast and wagon pass,
                        as if solemn,
                        and then recede
                        out of sight.
                        A wake is left--
                        strong pungent odor
                        of musk
                        with the sweet sharpness
                        of the cut stalks
                        being carried
                        to the village beyond.

Here is one of Hartmann's surviving works, a sketch of a clock:

Another is a plan for a city gate in Kiev:

Bill Cushing's bio is below:

I earned an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and currently teach English classes at both Mount San Antonio and East Los Angeles colleges while living in Glendale with my wife and our son.

This piece was inspired by my lifelong love of Mussourgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, a piece of music written in honor of an artist he knew well, which makes my poem a piece of writing inspired by a piece of music that was inspired by a painting. I have embedded an appropriate link below.

I have previously had poems published by Avocet, Brownstone Review, Mayo Review, MetaphorPenumbra, Spectrum, and West Trade Review. I was a contributor to two recently-released anthologies, Getting Old and the award-winning Stories of Music, vol 1. Also, I am scheduled to appear in volume 2 of the latter anthology.

Bill also sent me a link to a performance of Pictures at an Exhibition:

You may be familiar with the version conducted by Sir Georg Solti:

If you'd like to listen to "Baba Yar" and "Great Gate of Kiev" (see pictures above), you may want to listen to the video at this link:

I think that Thelma prefers this music.  She is looking very content.

I'd like to add some new pieces by Will Mayo.  Although this spring/summer I've been posting pieces by new-to-The Song Is... authors, I always welcome work by people who've been here before.



    Will Mayo

    "My God," Father Merton said one day. "Where am I headed?"

    There was no answer. The wind blew still. He kept walking. Ahead in the distance he could see the shifting horizons. Then no more.



    Will Mayo

    Another one of my recurring dreams is one where I find myself set in what appears every time to be an unfamiliar neighborhood. And I am a child again who longs to return to his childhood home. Walking about the street on which the houses lie I soon comprehend that it is a circular avenue of homes, there are no roads in and there are no roads out. And no one appears to be at home in any of the houses set on immaculate yards. One thing I do know: these are all well to-do homes far beyond the means of me and my simple family. I do not belong here. I am here a boy set at will among the absent strangers of a strange place and that feels wrong, so wrong.

    Sighing at my loss, I sit upon the curb of the curving street and ease myself back into dreamless sleep. Only to waken and then dream once more.



Will Mayo

Yet always in these wondering, these meanderings of mind there's a hallway to be found. One hallway leads to a desert highway along which I tried to catch a ride. Another to a mountain down whose most treacherous path I slid. Still another to a distant sea where dolphins led me home. And then another to old schoolgrounds, whether the Old College or to the Academy where fundamentalist kids taunted me with “To the Devil you go!” Onward to distant homes I called my own, whether in Maryland or Alabama or to the faraway asylum where they held me caged for a year. But always, always down a long dark hallway of desire...



    Will Mayo

    Once again, I tried to befriend a stranger who would prove to be no friend. The wild haired man led me up a winding stair, not to his apartment as he had promised, but to the rooftop of the busy bodega. With a staggering stride, he walked forward to the roof's edge across dried and crumbling tar. He pointed to the street below.

    "One day," he said. "I threw a man below. The fall broke every bone in his body."

    He paused. Then added:

    "What do you think of that?"

    "I don't know what to think," I replied matter of factly.

    "But does it scare you?" he asked.

    "No," I replied.

    He then led me away to the stairs. I made my way back down and past an angry storekeeper who didn't want me around either. Ahead, the crowd roared. I made my way forward.

    Tonight my husband and I went to hear the Todd Marcus Quartet featuring Don Byron.  We were impressed, so I am going to post some of his songs.  The first is "Blues for Tahrir (Reflections)":  The next is their version of "Bye Bye Blackbird":  I thought I'd finish with their version of Monk's "Epistrophy":  And here is Don Byron playing the music of Mickey Katz:


    Sunday, May 15, 2016

    Welcome to Sergio A. Ortiz!

    This morning as I prepare for another day of grading papers I'd like to post some new poems. I am especially pleased to be able to post Sergio A. Ortiz's entries into the Latino/a Culture contest.  The pictures above and below are of Mercedes Sosa.  For more information about her, see her obituary in the Guardian:  I'll be posting some of her songs below.

    Requiem for Mercedes Sosa

    Just in case Mercedes returns,
    in case a bombó or a zampoña bring her back,
    maybe she’ll return in the gallop of a chacarera,
    or in the swell of a samba.
    Hopefully a tango brings her back.
    And if, once and for all, the songs she left,
    the palpitations, the flora and fauna (happy
    to have been conceived by the voice
    of La Negra) bring her back: that is to say,
    in case an airplane doesn’t,
    or yet another concert, and even then,
    Mercedes returns with her pure voice purer,
    with her unadulterated voice
    capable of making bread or birds appear;
    and just in case Mercedes does return.
    I’m buying two front seats,
    one to sit down and watch her,
    another one to dance and sing
    until I’ve been revived.

    Latino/a Culture is more than just music as this next poem "Yellow Flowers" shows:

    Yellow Flowers

    I saw flowers in mi abuelas garden,
    perhaps they were not flowers,
    maybe they were candy, my childhood,
    yellow memories, lips, time,
    little piles of light, echoes of the sun
    immersed in darkness, golden orioles perching 
    in the air or on the stems;
    I saw flowers and possibly not flowers,
    Perchance it was mi abuela,
    my grandmother in yellow,
    in multiple portraits,
    portraits in the petals.

    I told you,
    they beat us
    now come down
    from that cross
    and follow me

    Short Bio:
    Sergio A. Ortiz is the founding editor of Undertow Tanka Review. His collections of Tanka, For the Men to Come (2014), and From Life to Life (2014) were released by Amazon.  He’s a two time Pushcart nominee and a four time Best of the Web nominee.  His poems have been publish in over four hundred journals and anthologies.

    What a wonderful way to begin!  Now for the music.....

    We'll start with Mercedes Sosa's "Todo Cambia":

    Here is her "Gracias a la Vida":

    Let's include her "Zamba para Olvidar":

    I'll finish with a live version of her "Seranetero de Bombos":