Friday, June 22, 2018

Juan Tituana, Marianne Szlyk, and NYC, part 2!!

Tonight I'm finishing up the batch of poems begun last summer with Catfish McDaris' Dylan poem.  I'll be posting the next contests soon, and then I will begin the new batch of poems.  Enjoy! Thank you for your patience, everyone.

To Callie, NYC is a Theme Park

Take the train into the city
just like you’d take
a kiddie train
into a theme park. 

Live the artist’s life in the Village.
Wear your raspberry beret
even in July’s humidity.
Wait on line.  Smoke
an e-cig, bacon-flavored, of course,
as if it could cut through the damp.
Bird Lives!  Lennon, too.
Ride the yellow taxi uptown,
the bumper car set free.
Or take the new El,
reconstructed to rattle
and shake as you stand
with all your luggage.

Run the steep stairs
to the fifth-floor walk-up.
Regret the pastrami
and cheesecake
you had for dinner.
As if it were real food.

This city is a theme park.
You cannot live here.

[Originally published in Life is a Roller Coaster (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014).]

Thursday Night Is Date Night

On one side of a plate glass window
in Chinatown,
the tourists glance
at the chef who rolls out noodles
while upside down corpses
of ducks and rabbits watch.
Their glassy eyes see everything
and nothing.

Rats dart across the alley.
They emerge
from behind boxes and trashcans
and enter unlucky kitchens.
Their beady eyes see anything
and everything.

On the other side of a plate glass window
a waiter serves
slippery black and white noodles
to couples celebrating
neither Thanksgiving nor Christmas.

Alone on Gray Thursday,
she studies the Chinese zodiac.
Her year is the Rabbit’s.
Her husband’s is the Rat’s.

To her, this explains
and nothing.

[Originally published in Napalm and Novocaine.]

After The Summer of Young Men in a Hurry

The young men in a hurry played 
all that summer in Manhattan, 
the once black and white city 
ripened beyond lavender into red.

The piano sounded 
like storm clouds on the horizon
in a neighborhood 
with only fans and open windows.

The high-hat shivered 
like the taste of ice chips 
about to melt.
The saxophone slipped

into the tightly-packed room 
and across rough brick walls
like the last breeze 
before September.

Listening to them, you wonder 
how they would have sounded 
in winter when clouds mean warmth
and storms spawn the steady fall of snow.

[Originally published in Pyrokinection.]

All About Rosie

Whenever I imagine Rosie, she is always 
up and down the stairs of her building, 
out to Little Italy, 
mingling with the famous people 
who aren't quite famous yet.

The pink record player is on full blast 
in the living room 
as she washes up last night's dishes. 
Horns sound like the traffic below. 
A blind man tickles the ivories 
so that they sound like ice clinking. 
You can barely hear the flute 
over the splashes and running water 
although Rosie swears it's there. 
Just you wait!

Rosie always wears what we call vintage, 
red belted dresses that fit just so over slim hips, 
stilettos that won't break. 
Her blonde pixie cut's never mussed by wind. 
She spritzes the smoke-filled rooms 
with White Shoulders.

She is a real Size Ten.

When Rosie is working, 
she sharpens pencils, 
hits carriage return on a not-so-old manual, 
serves coffee to the men from Detroit, 
engineers who will play Jazz for the Space Age
on the latest hi-fis. 

One day Rosie must have married 
and then left the city. 
Maybe she married my piano teacher 
who lived in a cottage by the lake. 
I can imagine her 
tidying up the studio of her husband, 
straightening the framed program 
signed by Dave Brubeck.
She quit smoking.  Or she didn't. 

The music in the clubs became 
the music on her husband's stereo 
became the music of your life 
became the standard that this 
plump girl in purple sequins is singing 
at the piano on the memory-care ward.

Once again Rosie's a real Size Ten.

[Originally published in Eos: The Creative Context.]

In Winter Time
All afternoon looks like dusk.
Weak, white sun blinks through
gauzy clouds and bare branches.
Branches twist, trying to grasp
the sun’s last light.  Lamps
offer theirs far too soon.
Coming from overheated rooms,
the last pedestrians bundle up
and imagine themselves further north
where sunset begins in the morning.
They long for arctic cities
where darkness lasts all day.
They ignore uptown’s crowded streets
hung with green and silver tinsel
that dances in the wind,
shivering, knowing that Christmas is
over already.

[Originally published in Cactifur.]

Now for the music!  Although George Russell was based in Boston, I am going to start with his "All About Rosie."  I don't think that this was the version that Reuben Jackson sent us, though.  (I wrote the poem in his workshop.)

Next I have to play some Kenny Kirkland.  This is his "Midnight Silence":

Here he performs "Just You Just Me" with Ellis Marsalis:

Since my husband is playing Lee Morgan's In Search of the New Land in the other room, I'll post Morgan's "The Joker":

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