Sunday, January 29, 2017

Welcome to Buck Downs (and congratulations to our Pushcart Prize nominees)!

Tonight I'm very happy to post the work of someone who is not only new to The Song Is... but is also from the DC area (or the DMV, as we say now)...Buck Downs.  Moreover, he has entered his poem into the non-driving contest.

as one who went on foot
to the motorcycle rally

somewhere between falling apart
and being put together again

shadow formation

reparations for the last run
preparations for the next one

some people like to play with depression
others love being attacked

they were like weren’t you
wearing a helmet

I was like you understand
I broke my leg

they said didn’t you
use protection

I said you get that’s not my kid --

it ain’t no sense
talking about

my life --

I am tempted to include another image of a motorcycle rally.  It appears to be somewhere in the UK or Ireland.

Photograph by Mike Hope (Sunbeam Owners Fellowship)

Back at the end of November, during the most hectic part of a hectic fall semester, I submitted nominees for the Pushcart Prizes.  It's taken me this long to congratulate you, but tonight is a good night.

I am listing the nominees in chronological order:

Bill Cushing -- "'Music isn't about standing still and being safe'"

Bryn Fortey -- "No Valentines for the James Dean of Jazz"

Mike Bayles -- "A Day Cast in Gray/A Hard Day’s Night Playing in my Mind"

Yoby Henthorn -- "Cerebus"

Bola Ade -- "Hotep sh*t"

Claudine Nash -- "That True Voice"

I also want to include the honorable mentions as well: Tad Richards -- "In a Dream She Sees Lester Young Standing Naked" and "She Took Off Her Dress"; Michael Lee Johnson -- "Little Desert Flower" and "Alberta Bound"; and Amber Smithers' "Bulimia Poem."  

Thank you, everyone, for your contributions!  

Now for the music....

I have posted so many pieces by Miles Davis.  Tonight I'll post "Nefertiti":

Here is his "Filles de Kilimanjaro":

For Chet Baker, I'll include a 1959 recording of "My Funny Valentine":

This is his version of "Autumn Leaves":

I'll finish with some Lester Young.  First is his version of "Our Love is Here to Stay" with Teddy Wilson: 

Next is "I Didn't Know What Time It Was," a very appropriate title tonight!

Back to my papers!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Welcome to Philip Elliott!

Tonight I'm pleased to post two poems by Philip Elliott, the editor-in-chief of Into the Void and an intriguing writer in his own right.  I love how he interpreted the jazz contest, and as he noted, "I adore jazz, and see no real distinction between it and a good poem."

That Sax Solo Put A Spell On Me*

I put a spell on you, because you’re mine

You’re mine . . . .

Biiiiip                                                                                                                            bay
          be ba   bahhhh bahu                                                                          bah    baba
                                         wah     baba       baba        baba    bbrrriiiip  ba

Be      be                                                                                                    buh
     ba        ba    beyh~beyh~beyh~beyh~beyh~beyh~beyh~beyh~beyh    
                                                                                                                        hhhh bahe

                        bahhhh      babebeba
Buh ba        ba
                                                         booo . . . .

* from ‘I Put A Spell On You’ by Nina Simone

Are you ready for the future?

            Vulgar Machines

Year 401 of the Second Age
after the old ones somehow
made the world kill them:

A small village (in what was once
an old nursing home outside
what was once Gainsville, FL)

gather by the fire and chat.
‘We’ve all heard that the old
ones used to fly in the sky in

great big winged contraptions,’
the eldest man tells the group of
mostly young families, ‘but bet

you never heard bout their vulgar
machines. ‘Vulgar machines?’ a child
echoes, eyes wide and hungry with

imagination. ‘Oh yeah.’ The old man
grins, licks his lips, as excited as the
kid. ‘Every single one of the old ones

whizzed their selfs around in these big,
noisy, coughing, spluttering, vulgar
machines that could outrun the fastest

wild horse in the land. Could mow a
person down and not even be slowed.
Every one of the old ones had one and

used it to get everywhere. Could be
they even waged war gainst one nother
with em. They say that there used to be

hundreds of these machines lined up on the
Streets up until a couple hundred years ago
when people started melting them down.’

The gathering is silent, an image in every
brain. ‘I don’t know, dad,’ a man says
‘sounds a bit unlikely to me. The old ones

weren’t gods.’ ‘No,’ the old man agrees,
‘but they sure as hell thought they were.’

Philip Elliott is Irish, 23 years old and Editor-in-Chief of Into the Void Magazine. His writing can be found in various journals, most recently Otoliths, GFT Press, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine and Subprimal Poetry Art. He is currently working on his first novel, a novella and a chapbook of experimental poetry. Stalk him at

Before I post music, I'd like to mention that noted author and contest judge Catfish McDaris is gathering poems and fiction inspired by Vincent Van Gogh.  Are you interested?  He doesn't have a publisher yet, but he is quite excited by this project.  Please email me for more details.

Now here is the music.  Of course, we are starting with Nina Simone's "I Put a Spell on You":

I am also including her "I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free":

Let's include some saxophones now as well.

John Coltrane joins the Sonny Rollins Quartet for "Tenor Madness":

Let's go back to Charlie Parker.  He and Sonny Rollins are part of the Miles Davis Sextet on "Compulsion":

Here Sonny Stitt and Dexter Gordon are playing together on "a rejected Stitt session" from 1962:

I'll finish with a contemporary saxophonist, Grace Kelly on "Blues for Harry Bosch":

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Welcome to Jennifer Elizabeth Hall!

Tonight I'd like to post two poems and a drawing by my former student Jennifer Elizabeth Hall.  Her first poem brings spring nearer to us.

Cradle of Life
In the garden at the greenhouse, by a waterfall
that dives into a pond of stones, splashes in
tiny ripples near reeds, and old fallen leaves,
under a red maple, as frogs call back and forth—
I hear baby birds chirp, above a vine-draped arbor,
from a tall tree with blossoms from tiny white buds,
that reaches to the height of the Conservatory
under solid blue day and a warm orange sun.

Up high on the side of the round white flowers,
I find the cradled bird’s nest. Within the dense tree,
a mockingbird mother with gray tipped black wings
jumps to safety in the middle of the tree, to observe me
with curious gold eyes, glowers and sings, a warn full
reproach, and I notice the thorns, two inches and sharp,
that surround the tree. Only a small downy white
feather, caught on the end of a thorn still wavers
with the breeze, evidence of the price to breach the tree.

Careful not to prick myself on the thorns’ tips,
I feel the soft, silk spring petals, with pink tipped
filaments, sprouts from the pale green stems of this tree,
called a Hawthorn. Cradled deep, small and round,
dark fruit begins to grow. The nest of brown twigs sleeps,
quiet, embraced by the knowledge mother bird is there,
though she has not yet returned to her babies. Above
she waits, her fluffy beige underbelly and gray fan tail
patient, lest she give away their location. Soon it is time
to go, to let the mockingbird alone in its home.

As I walk away from the full tall Hawthorn, now
it appears to resemble a small hedge or bush of green
leaves, more innocuous, less formidable. I can imagine—
once this was the Tree of Eden, in the Garden, in a place
Adam and Eve took the knowledge of good and evil.
Above the shade of the thorns, the sun shines bright over

the greenhouse, just a harmless green tree beside.

Copyright 2017 by Jennifer Elizabeth Hall

A Cat with Tattoos

A cat, casually smokes a cigar,
wears calligraphy swirls in S like curls, an artful grin,
big as a house, he ignores the little drawn man, in huge
black boots with head a-spin, like a vortex to pull him in,
who waves a finger at him when he sits down on a car
he crushes, then raises a brow at, oh well, destruction
drifts off to daydreams of sand wasteland, monochromatic
thoughts of crosses and graves like stakes and the sun
drips of blood in the sky, watches like the eye of God,
and smoke flows up to the stars.

Copyright 2017 by Jennifer Elizabeth Hall

Continuing the theme of animals, Jennifer also sent me this picture of "Charlie."

Copyright 2017 by Jennifer Elizabeth Hall

Jennifer Elizabeth Hall is a poet and artist residing in Montgomery Village, Maryland. She has a passion for art, music and literature, as well as genetics and neuroscience. She has just completed a trilogy, and awaits its publication. Her poetry has appeared in Dragonfly Arts Magazine.

Although the picture on the cover is very wintry, let's start with pianist Duke Jordan's "Flight to Denmark," the country where he lived at the time:

Another of his songs is "Flight to Japan":

The other day I was listening to some Freddie Hubbard videos, so here is his "Birdlike":

A contemporary group, the Kamasi Washington Group, performs a version of Hubbard's "Hub Caps":

I'll finish with Washington's version of "Cherokee" from his recent album Epic:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Welcome to P C K Prem!


….a long poem in ten parts by p c k prem, India

                                          OF THIS TIME
                                  (A poetic documentary on a Modern Man)
Word is a sacred asset
on the crowded mall,
near the church ancient
of peanuts and grams roasted,
in warm winters,
as monkey on feet
extend frowning hands at visitors
colliding with lusty glances
in passions cold,
when the white man refused
to see a soul,
in bodies brown.

It was a non-existing wedge
between cultures,
of people denying man to live
in prayers with no wish,
to think of statues erected
on crowded crossings.

            ii. Of this moment

A hymn a crowd sings turns into posers,
many scorpions
and temples surge with natives
thumping noisy whispers,
and it is a patchwork
of moaning prayers and grimaces,
ironic oblique looks
while disciples of monkeys’ God
prowl around munching grams,
to enact a historic scene
in a theatre of absurd gaieties.

            iii. Of this obscurity

Meanings transmitted make out
lethal phantoms,
for a few moments more men, women
and children close eyes
and construct scenes,
of joyous gnomes
as if landing from the blue
on the spacious lawn;
before many vermilion painted
tall stony figures,
and form grisly rainbows
with multi-layered torsos,
spitting fire.

            iv. Of this prayer

Aromatic and lightly sour bouquet,
spatter around as if
a whole beauty of earthly breast
and the world
not imagined,
opens before the eyes
and the praying forms
oblige smiles on the lips
that listen to mantras and chanting.

Tingling of bells incessantly charms
blissfully it drives silly pack
to a smoggy coma.
There the beauty of a woman
unlocks ecstasy,
to find a vacant grave
when a firm string prolongs
to exhaust fortitude
of a hungry pit.

            v. Of this priest

In saffron with patches snaky
observes beauties of curves
and mumbles amorous words none hears
in solemn shades of temples.
This pundit nurses many love scenes
with the damsels,
and next moment
he looks at the huge statue of God
and sighs, groans and yet sings
rhymes of glory
with watery mouth.

            vi. Of this secret

A mast of hymns bursts out
the great laughter of liking for body
as Gods look on a new prayer
composed for another,
shadowy daytime to dole out
gods bequest
after people pour whispers
at bathed feet,
the wily priest with dozens of religions
and sermons,
in extracts showers soft touches
on fair ladies
with detached looks at others.

            vii. Of this pillar

A legend of a blind king
crushing a iron sculpture is born
to warn an arc idol,
the golden awning, the granite floor
and the chandeliers with huge
brass bells,
where the naked feet
the covered head and the burning flames,
remind mortals
of a bloodstained field
that appear red.

This is all I view around
and forget the ancient man
on the death bed.

As I am engaged with a pundit
to strike a bargain,
philosophy assaults the head
with blows and it bleeds,
and I run away as wicked feelings fill
an empty brain.

            viii. Of this vision

Closed eyes put up images
of bloated bellies,
half smiling lips and truths in plenty
to create illusions.

And an idea emerges
to fill up a space in time.
Guilt speaks out without prompting
and I feel crushed.

Fierce little words invade
and I analyze vainly.

And a cauldron burns energies
of stirrings of gods,
while searing heat burns and re-burns
as the body refuses to agree
where tragedy occurs.

And still I derive pleasure
from the closed eyes.

            ix. Of this feeling

Of hindsight, a man is just confused
hungry and thirsty.

Suffocates and yet feels relaxed
at another time.

Lips murmur a secret prayer
as eyes observe,
and eat up beauty around.

Awful experience wanders inside
with witches gory.

I wonder what I do
in the abode of God
crying for identity.

Muttering hymns in delight
of fervent fable
I cry why I close eyes.

            x. Of this stage

Of ancient sin I try to materialize
a logogriph to baffle
as I revisit Mahabharata
and get relieved
when I see Bhishma
that sin is not new
and penance is primordial.

I am probably a newly born saint
of an old age in times new.
It is a classic tale of lie
and pretence in a warrior in fears
surviving in an era of deception.

Of temples filled with crowds
sponsored by the state mostly
to capture booths and ballots
in an age of dons in religions
and cons in politics.
And I watch
the priest standing alone 
singing love songs of yore.

I laugh with the song
and walk out in disgust
to weave another story
of sins in shrines of Gods.


 P C K Prem (p c katoch of garh-malkher, palampur, himachal, a former                  academician, civil servant and member psc hp, shimla) is an author of more than fifty books. A post-graduate in English literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh, he has brought out nine volumes of poetry besides five books on criticism, two books on ancient literature, six novels and two collections of short fiction.  Creative writings in Hindi include twenty novels, nine books on short fiction and a collection of poems. Recipient of several awards, Katoch Prem is a poet, novelist, short story writer and a critic in English and Hindi from Himachal, India.

Tonight I will start the music with Rahsaan Roland Kirk's "The Inflated Tear."  As you'll see on the video, he is playing several instruments at once:

His "Volunteered Slavery" is from 1972:

This is his "Serenade to a Cuckoo":

Here he plays with McCoy Tyner and Stanley Clarke: