Thank you Joe Maita for publishing “Don’t Ask this of Me” and “Passage Dreaming” in the Winter 2021 collection of jazz poems. These two pieces are in the company of some exceptional writing. Jazz aficionados will want to check out the Jerry Jazz Musicianwebsite for jazz photography, interviews, poetry and more.
DON’T ASK THIS OF ME
Coltrane stains the air with dusky shadows quivering across the bay like words lost between tenor- haunted notes.
The waning moon sheds a string of luminescent pearls across dark water each wavelet a silken shiver.
Burnished shiraz lingers on lips bay-water laps ankles voices hum with pining under the sax’s spell.
Thoughts unravel seeking deep within cascading notes their flight? their poetry?
A fish breaches its rupture creating circles ever-widening dives into hidden depths.
Rain cleanses city veils sky softens colour sound.
Musical strains lift praise through grey dawn.
Piano and tenor sax slip into harp and flute vibrate with creation chaos light as a feather falling through time
notes collect and break apart
travel like a seeker’s heart along a helix of blue
spiral cascade slip through clouds like rain.
“DON’T ASK THIS OF ME” is a tribute to John Coltrane (1926-1967): jazz saxophonist and composer; renowned for experimental music and for introducing a movement toward spiritual transcendence in jazz.
“PASSAGE DREAMING” was inspired by the music of Alice Coltrane, also known as Turiyasangitananda.
Thank you, Sarah Law, for accepting my “Haibun: Of Hunger & Fire” for publication in Amethyst Review.
HAIBUN: OF HUNGER & FIRE
A chorus of chick-a-dee-dee-dee greets late winter dawn and spring-hungry us, who clutch mugs of hot coffee against the chill. A flock of chickadees cluster in the barberry bush now doused with snow, their black caps barely visible within the weave of pencil-thin branches. But their bobbing dark heads give them away among last summer’s shrivelled red berries and a few clinging leaves. In groups of five or six, they wing to the feeder and back again, a circus lilting through air, sunflower seeds clasped in their toes. Blue jays, nesting in the evergreens across the way, also wake hungry. They screech a slurring jaay, jaay – whether to intimidate or pre-emptive to mob – I don’t know. The tiny chickadees keep a distance from the raucous bully-blues. You stoke the fire; sparks rise; woodsmoke scents the air.
A “haibun” is a Japanese literary term that we can trace back to the poet Matsuo Basho (17th century). Essentially, it is a paragraph-long prose narrative followed by a 17-syllable “haiku.” Haibuns tend to focus on landscape scenes and anecdotes. Style-wise, a haibun is imagistic and captures a moment in time.
I hope that you enjoy this one and that you will leave a comment and share.
Notice her concentration /
how she stands on stilty legs /
Thank you, Sarah Law, editor of Amethyst Review, for selecting Honey Light for publication (August 8, 2020).
When you wake in honey light
linger where river meets the curve
of a bay round as a waxing moon
where the pearl-feathered heron
glides with outstretched wings
alights in weedy shallows
to become just another shadowed reed
perfectly still in solitude.
Notice her concentration
how she stands on stilty legs
in harmony with time and place
like the pause between piano notes
the space that makes the music
…..the downward pause of Billie Holiday
…..Cohen’s gap that lets the light come in
stands alert and dreamy at water’s edge.
Do not rush through the honey light
but flow in the effortless action
and inaction of night becoming day
of the moon’s light giving way to the sun
and the sun’s rising and sinking
into the ebb and flow of the sea
step into the shallows
stand in wu wei.….a heron-woman.
Please “like,” share and send your thoughts on the poem. Thanks.
Those of us abroad when Covid-19’s impact hit were about to have our travelling lives interrupted. It was to have been a writing trip, a month in a place that I love. Baracoa is a small city near the northeastern tip of Cuba, facing the Atlantic Ocean with mountains to her back. Geography makes it rather isolated and beautiful. I would visit friends, but mostly I would walk the long malecón and then the much longer curve of beach, and I would write. But then the news broke that airlines were cancelling flights, boarders were closing: paradise interrupted.
THE DOVES SEEM TO CROON TIPPY CANOE TIPPY CANOE Baracoa and Boca de la Miel, Cuba
Rain falls overnight
cleansing heat and dust of day
susurrus song on the pillow.
Travelling news greets morning
airlines suspending flights
a case of coronavirus at home
factories and daycares closed
the mantra of self-isolation repeated
while the sun rises above Baracoa
of ocean waves and mountain breezes.
You feel a bit like Robinson Crusoe.
Woodcut visions of medieval plague
bodies stacked and dangling from carts
emaciated people leaning from balconies
cross your mind before you quickly wipe
Walk miles of ocean shore
to lounge upon a sheltered beach.
Eat uva caleta grapelike berries
from the tree of Columbus’ cross.
Crack almond shells with a stone.
At the small fishing village of Boca de la Miel
listen to riffs of Spanish voices
drift across Made’s verandah
devour fried platano sip ice-cold cerveza walk home to your casa on Calle Maceo
close to the malecón.
From your small balcony roof-top high
you listen to doves cooing in their dovecot tippy canoe tippy canoe a rooster crowing.
if you’ve slipped into Alice’s rabbit hole.
Night’s rain has emptied clouds.
The sullen sky has changed to blue.
Time flattens like a Dali watch.
The doves sing their haunting song.
When this pandemic passes and we travel again, if Cuba is on your list of places to visit, think about contacting my friend Alber the Hiker who is a wonderful guide who will share his knowledge of Cuba from its history to its unique flora and fauna. He knows his island home from west to east, north to south. He’s a great guy.
Writing Tip: If you haven’t yet joined a writing group, think about doing it. They bring creative people together for sharing, inspiration, encouragement, and often, like SOTH, offer publishing opportunities.