Sunday, November 18, 2018

Avis D. Matthews and the Fall

This summer Avis D. Matthews (whose poetry you may know if you've been following this site) joined the poetry workshop that my husband and I started.  Here is one of her poems from the workshop.  Avis wrote that she "wrote the poem from a fall state of mind."

A Dog Man

Damp and cloudy,
cool and quiet,
the morning shore 
is an invitation 
to the solitude seeker.

A glimpse of the dogs 
down on the beach draws him 
from the warm kitchen 
onto the concrete balcony
suspended in a frame of mist
six floors up.

Hopeful for adventure,
a long-legged pup charges out 
from behind a dune,  
dashes ahead, 
romps, wags, spins, 
his own playmate. 

An older dog, 
bony and not at all 
ready for morning, 
lags behind like a 
half-hearted chaperone.

On the beach this morning
it's a dog's world.
The man on the balcony
retreats to the soft heat
and his guitar.

- Avis D. Matthews
June 30, 2018

Although we are past 9/11 and even what used to be called Remembrance Day, I would like to post another poem by Avis, "Quiet Skies."  Let's not forget those lost on 9/11/01.  The ending is also very timely.

Quiet Skies
by Avis D. Matthews

Were the clouds so quiet 
in the days before there were no planes
gliding through them;
before that morning,
that bright new day,
which, suddenly, 
was both an end 
and the beginning of 
a long sorrow
that commenced 
on bridges, 
roads and highways,
in meetings interrupted
and routines aborted.

An undeletable sorrow
that first pinched 
in the panic
of unanswered phone calls,
anxious pleas:
Where are you?
Call us back.
Call back.
Call back... 

A desperate sorrow, 
remembered as: 
burning trees and 
flying metal,
smothering heat and 
smoking clouds and 
collapsing walls,
blood and cries 
and courage.

glued inside the American scrapbook,
of last hugs,
last blow-kisses,
last grins,
last gulps of coffee.

Until our memories,
like thunder and lightning,
but sometimes like birthday cake,
cause us to remember 
that they lived before they died.

But is remembering enough?

What could honor them
but a nation where children are fed;
where grungy sidewalks  
don't pass for living rooms;
where justice isn't muddied
with cowardice and greed.

We honor them if
we squash cruel authority,
callous leadership,
and heartless despotism;
and if we echo the poetess Gwendolyn Brooks 
and proclaim to those would slap the sun:
It will not always be night. *
* Inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks' poem "Speech to The Young Speech To The Progress-Toward (Among Them Nora And Henry III")

This evening I was playing Charles Fambrough's The Proper Angle Album.  It wasn't quite right for grading papers, but perhaps it is better for reading poetry.

The album started off with "Don Quixote":

YouTube chose Miles Davis' "Autumn Leaves" to follow:

I'll finish with John Coltrane's "Equinox":

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Catching up with Leslie McKay and Julie Naslund, Paying Tribute to Felino A. Soriano

I am always happy to publish Leslie McKay and Julie Naslund's rengay.  I just didn't expect for it to take so long!!  As you may have guessed from the picture above, their first collaboration was inspired by 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

I'm glad that they sent me a second rengay!  

eloping with sound

Miles in his Porsche
stopped by cops asking
who he stole it from

misunderstood brilliance
translating from his inner ear

blue into green
a leisurely unfolding
everything is one

discordant brew
beautiful cacophony
new directions

eloping with sound

chasing it out
all the way to the edges
again and again

rengay by Leslie and Julie

Recently I received the sad news that jazz poet Felino A. Soriano had died.  Alison Ross is editing an extensive tribute to him, but tonight's entry is an impromptu tribute to him.  I am adding a couple of his poems.  The first poem is the last that I received from him, I believe.
Conversational whisper
                                   --after Ivar Antonsen (b. 1946)

  Where it was we’ve
 more so an adaptation
     of age and what
 age in theory represents
                   within the
   behavior of our current
        manifestations.  Said
     of what we’ve forgotten,
  each mirror, when unobstructed
        by thick, fingering fog will
  reveal what the body bends
 toward:     :frequent spatial
    needs to determine fractions’
      music, asymmetrical, altruistic with
   widened hands of a welcoming

   warmth is what relocates oddities of noon’s winter holdings;
 elongated lines, tired strands of silken silence
     continue oscillating speech though
   when heat becomes apparition
       is the grayed gradation crawl
   -ing to adhere to bone’s piano solo
        to ash

The second is his tribute to Geri Allen, who was also gone too soon.


—after Geri Allen’s Soul Eyes

each gate     wanders, opens          widens,


an interpretation     of a window’s
signature of contouring syllables
shaped by hands of popular
association, —a connected dedication
opens the visual hanker to
align purpose with the prose
of companionship’s configuration,     each
smile of an onlooker holds an embraceable
moment, an emblem stays, hovering
above what portends color to confirm
emotional clarification, and the eyes
will remember each chapter, each
page will ignite imagination’s pageantry,
consecrated contemplation

by Felino A. Soriano

I'll finish with a few songs for you.  Perhaps they'll inspire you to write.

Let's start with Geri Allen's "Soul Eyes":

Although I haven't included any of Felino's poems inspired by Robert Glasper's music, I am including Glasper's "So Beautiful":

I'll finish with Glasper's "The Worst":