Saturday, December 30, 2017

Welcome to Tim Staley!

This evening I'd like to post some intriguing, slice-of-life poems that New Mexico poet Tim Staley sent me.  (Thank you for your patience, Tim!)  He and I were both in Catfish McDaris and Marc Pietrzykowski's anthology Resurrection of a Sunflower, poems and prose inspired by Vincent Van Gogh.

It Was the Day of My Vasectomy

A nurse prepped me like I was livestock.
I was 2 Xanax in and she was too rough.
She left my nuts under a heat lamp.
The doctor finally came in and told me
if I stopped having babies the Blacks
and the Mexicans and the Muslims
would sure enough fill this country up.
A strange sentiment for a sterilization.
Then I’m thinking about the young van Gogh,
a bit shiftless, unable to find his place
in business or in the exams of the church
so he goes down to the mine to see sunlight
through the miner’s eyes, shrunk to a pinhead,
and the Xanax is wearing off
and I smell him cauterizing my vas deferens.


The fallen soldier lands
at Cleveland International.
4 green fire trucks,
10 cop cars, a hearse,
and a blur of red, white and blue
glitters on the wet tarmac.
A son, a father, a brother
and 6 flags stand limp.
Some of us stop to gape
for 2 or 3 minutes before
dashing to our gates.

Another Meaningless Morning

Sylvia kneels on the sofa, her back to the living room,
she’s looking out the window, she sees a fluffy bird.
The light is broken by the blinds and lays across her face
in thick, bright bars. There's dust floating in the air
and the sound of Thursday’s snoring in her dog bed
even though she just woke from 18 hours of sleep.
In the bedroom Suzanne is also asleep, on her left side,
spit hangs from the rim of her lip. The ceiling fans
continue to spin counter-clockwise. The window in the bedroom
is open, a cool front blew in last night. In the window sill,
stuck between the screen and the glass is the skeleton of a gecko,
maybe 3 inches, striped tail, eyes beady and black, wide open
and intact. Outside a breeze starts in Deming and turns bad
on its way to the Mesilla Valley. Bits of dust and rock vibrate
and lift from the desert floor to make their way in a violent cloud
toward our house, toward the fluffy, unidentified bird in our front yard
hopping between the palo verde and the juvenile locust tree
and in Sylvia’s stomach there’s a barking and a Happy Meal
watch is on her little wrist but it’s broken and is only purple to match
her skirt which has 28 sparkly hearts sewn above the bottom hem,
and between her two front teeth there’s a morsel of mango
that her toothbrush must have missed, and she turns to face her daddy,
to ask him about that fluffy bird, as he makes his way to the coffee maker.

Ring Them Bells

Elonganel got his bell rung
and saw green for an hour.
Coach said our sideline
looked like Mash last night.
Now I sit around drinking coffee
as the non-disabled students amble in
while half the football team
wanders the hallways,
sliding recklessly back and forth
over the black ice of their synapses.

Angela, She’s Gone

I can blink the tiredness from my eyes
but she’s gone. My sister, mother of two.
My daughter's first real death
is 3 hours old, 4 hours old...

Jill’s mom didn’t let her
go to her father’s funeral.
It was a motorcycle crash
after the war, Germany, hit by a truck.
The mother knew funerals
were no place for a child.

It’s past my daughter’s bedtime.
Go on, I tell her, play,
don’t worry about the stars
shifting on and on.

If you would like to see more of Tim Staley and his poetry, visit his website:  He may even be coming to a town near you!

Let's start the music with Thelonious Monk's "Boo-Boo's Birthday,"  Boo-Boo being his nickname for his daughter Barbara:

I'm trying to find the Robert Glasper song with his child, but in the meantime, here is "Ah Yeah" featuring Musiq Soulchild and Chrisette Michele:

"Fever" is a bonus track on the Robert Glasper Experiment's Black Radio:

 I'll finish with Woody Shaw's "The Moontrane": and "Katrina Ballerina":

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Leslie McKay, Julie Naslund, and Indunil Madhusankha!

Tonight's entry features a variety of poets and styles.  I'd like to start with New Zealand poet Leslie McKay's "Louis Armstrong's Wink," a poem inspired by her mother's seeing him perform in Christchurch in the 1950s.

Louis Armstrong's Wink

She kept Louis Armstrong's wink in her evening bag
for her Child to employ and grew fountains
of wisteria and magnolias the world came to see

When Child waltzed off a flight from New Orleans scatting
and singing, She exhaled a long, slow breath before 
the swagger of youth and forecast a summer of mayhem 

Wearing her father's empty gun belt slung around her hips
Child followed her rhythm downtown, to find the dark blue music
she heard through half open window panes, above old veranda's
knocked on doors, until she found the accomplices she craved

When they jammed, her hungry face was light
her voice a liquid instrument, a thousand years deep
in her eyes, a cache of dreams on hold, as day imposed

On a rare night of solitude, She watched a magnolia bud unfurl
sat in wonder, breathing nectar, until the morning tide brought Child
hand in hand with her new Italian scholar of the universe love
who waved a divining wand as he smiled and said the nectar 
would ebb and flow until She's resistance ceased

As the intelligence arced and whirled She left for the botanical realm
from the green depths, heard Child singing Summertime
found her by the lily pond where lazy goldfish blew 
where Child said ache in her was love, her voice a mystery 
driving her further from the garden that aligned her

And She said the root of the world was the adult blues 
in the dancing of summer, burning inside her
as she cut Child a stem of wisteria

She was born quiet, she often craved silence to a holy degree
but the murmuring dreams of plants kept her real
Child's recklessness didn't become her, it drove She insane
but her voice was a pearl of the sonic world

and below the wisteria vine, their colliding rhythms swayed

Leslie and Julie Naslund have also sent me a rengay inspired by the music of John Coltrane.

like telepathy

which direction ?
begin in the middle
and go both ways  J

still they salute him
no-one could catch trane  L

aural meditation
from the well of the heart
a love supreme    J

a pure state
moment to moment
only one instrument L

beyond the saxophone
a new cultural landscape  J

like telepathy
a strong rapport
with inner history   L

Above is a picture of a service at the Saint John Coltrane African Orthodox Church in San Francisco.  (Thank you, Martin Willitts, Jr., for telling me about this church.)  Freimut Bahlo is the photographer.

I'd like to add Sri Lankan poet Indunil Madhusankha's poem.  (Thank you for your patience!)

Autobiography of the Poet

 I am the poet
 carrying a luggage of roles
 all of which I play with equal interest

 I am the talkative lover
 who knocks on the door of your heart
 and having entered,
 bursts into a torrid tete-a-tete
 with your inner self
 and sings fantastic flirtations

 I am the justice in the court
 betokening perfect impartiality
 and never guilty of distorting the truth
 None receives the least pardon from me
 for any offence

 I am the policeman
 following the thugs
 with a baton
 and filing a case against them 

 I am the overpowering magician
 My virility, more ebullient
 than that of a gunman or a swordsman
 In case they can only kill a person
 Yet I influence the latter
 and charge the battery of his heart

 I am the labourer
 digging out moth eaten rubbish mounds
 and recycling them

 Yet, I am the poet,
 the very slight poet,
 still struggling for perfection. 

Biography of Author

Indunil Madhusankha is currently an undergraduate reading for a BSc Special Degree in Mathematics at the Faculty of Science of the University of Colombo. Even though he is academically involved with the subjects of Mathematics and Statistics, he also pursues a successful career in the field of English language and literature as a budding young researcher, reviewer, poet and content writer. Basically, he explores the miscellaneous complications of the human existence through his poetry by focusing on the burning issues in the contemporary society. Moreover, Indunil’s works have been featured in many international anthologies, magazines and journals. 

I'll start tonight's music with Louis Armstrong's "A Kiss to Build a Dream On":

This version of "Dinah" is from 1933.  The band is playing in Copenhagen, which fits nicely with Leslie's poem.

Here is a live version of "Green Dolphin Street" featuring John Coltrane, Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Jimmy Cobb:

In this video, Coltrane and Monk play "Evidence":


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Welcome Back, Jerry Scuderi, Dave White, and The Song Is...

Photo by Dave White

Now that the semester is over, the song resumes with my former student Jerry Scuderi's return.  The photos in this entry are by his friend Dave White, and they will remind you that warmer weather is only a few months away!

The  Roar  of  Lions   

Pop’s trailered his pick -up,   a mighty machine ;
to race, come see it,   a beauty yet mean .

Billowing smoke, “Orange Thunder” ;   stand by if you dare.
A grandson was called,  oh! He needs to be there .

See them brothers and uncles,   grand dads all around.
Here the pulsing ear-piercing;   there’s smoke and there‘s sound.

Mom calls for a son,   not yet of teen age ;
lean, smart, and quiet,   the men quickly gauge .

With uncles around him,  here encouragement and praise ;
his face is the face of their grand- uncle   . . . Displayed !

Tight gripping long hand shake,   between families that cared ;
relay trust and approval   of a son freely shared .

 Pop worked, raised a family,   his racer’s his joy ;
family men come to see it,   shout our for the boys .

Males are molded and fashioned,   by the things that they see ;
labor for family,   it’s the place they should be .

“Little Brother , what’s in you,   I want you to show ;
through the smoke and the thunder, a family must go ! ”

“ Roar at me brother,   show a heart that is strong ;
family will depend on your will and your arm !”

Families are spoke of ;   it’s good to be here ;
the years will soon pass us;   new grand dads appear .

For families are time-less , need attention and care ;
provide direction and guidance,   give your life and your hair .

                                                       Jerry A., Scuderi  June 13, 2009    

               Serenity   Station

Howl winds of  Delaware point
across a home of gables.
Coming storms of winter nears ;
shield ; protect  .  .  .  so able .

Adobe of columns , open plan
seen children , guests , and greeters .
Come to rest and soak up sun
mallers , feasters , beachers .

 In dark of night front corner lamp
sentries a palace quite adorned .
A trooper rolls hushed quiet past
a street left quite forlorn .

Guest house of peace and order
arrayed in tile and oak
host gifted rooms of talent treasures
to stress , anxiety soak .

Cottage quiet hums of silence
awaiting squawks , cheer , and chatter .
Soak in now an AM’s glow ;
Soon to greet ; soon to serve .  .  .   it matters .  

   Jerry A. Scuderi
   Nov. 19, 2017  2:47 am                                                                            

        Misty Dawn

Twilight squeals of monster motion ;
Cars file in a train yard bow .
Mountains invite a wakened commotion ;
a stone wall hints of a forgotten foe .

This city soaks the trellised passes ;
it’s glow reflects of white and amber .
I’m showered , sprayed , soaked , dashed .
Do You know my thoughts of Thee ?

A silent hiss returns the night ;
youths to rise with their glee .
Steeple sentries send drapes to white ;
Assault me shower ; spray in the freeze .

Gone , now times of cloistered sisters :
of convent closed by Father Time .
Allow me joy of giving , Master .
In Thee I rest this life of mine .

                                                       Jerry A. Scuderi 

An Outdoor’s Man Sonnet

Up and out in the morning cool ;
Trek to the lake of misty sky .

Seek ; fish phantoms and a turtle guy .
Snatched ! Pocketed ! A morning jewel .
A flop of legs and he’d found the pool .

We anchored our scepters ; relax and sigh .
Thrones set by brush , brambles , and rye .
License and contentment , here is the rule .

A creature tugs at the line ; oh , snap !
Cool ; … then steady , … spare a mishap .

A thrasher flits through the thicket ; gone !
Others avoid being ripped and torn .

Delight in the day of early dawn .
Nigh is darkness , dejection , forlorn .

                                                               Jerry A. Scuderi 
                                                               June 14, 2017

               A  Sonnet for Dad

He’s my  dad .

He’s strong as jade .

He works all day so bills are paid .

Watches me ;  keeps away the bad ;

Loves me even if  I’m mad .

He’s here for me through night and day ;

kisses me when eyes are laid .

His feet get tired ; his face gets sad ;

I love him so , I need to show .

He carries me so I can grow .

We brush away vacation sand ;

I make him smile ; to him I grin .

He worries though I hold his hand .

My Dad will dim ; I’ll long for him .

                                                              Jerry A. Scuderi
                                                              June 9, 2011

I'll finish up with some of the music I've been listening to lately.  Music to grade papers by.

Freddie Hubbard et al cover Paul McCartney's "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey":

Here is Hubbard's "Joy Spring" from Born to be Blue:

This is Woody Shaw's "United":  The cover of the album shows Shaw with his young son.

I'll finish with his "The Green Street Caper."

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate!