Sunday, February 20, 2011

the jazzman gets the blues

This poem has two sources of inspiration, this um, prompt from JackAz Photography for One Shoot Sunday(link below) but more importantly, my deep admiration for the surreal post-modern existential, nihilist poetry of the great  
to whom I dedicate this humble offering:

the jazzman gets the blues

the jazzman came to Wyandotte
he was lookin to play.
he had his axe in a worn out case
looked like it had been pissed on
by a thousand dogs--
black, peeling, no stickers--
and a bone box with a
beating heart
in his back pocket.

the jazzman found a corner by the bus station
where the winos were huffin it up 
from a paper bag.
decided it looked like a place that
needed accompaniment,
so he took out his sax and made a noise like a combine
on a july day in Longview. 
the winos left.

an old latina woman on her way to work
threw a quarter in his case
out of pity.

the jazzman left Wyandotte
because he’d paid his dues
and hitched to the West Coast.
he had some money left
but he let the
truckers and salesmen
feed him anyway.

he finally made it to L.A.
and cast the hairy eyeball around.
he was wiped out and freakin,
needed bong hits and bedrest.
he was lookin to get laid.

he did.

scroungin a gig was harder
but he hooked up with a whacked out bass player
from Fargo who made everybody call him Fats
two hipsters with guitars
and a rastafarian on the conga.
they called the band the Lounge Lizards.
they played Manny’s Chuck House every Friday 
for two months.
the jazzman thought his chops 
were finally there.

then the waitress Manny was boppin
ran off with all his bread, and Fats.
Manny went flat busted and got kidney trouble.
The one guitar player's old lady had him 
thrown in the slammer
for ten years' child support
and the other went mariachi in Tiajuana.
the rastafarian kept playin the conga
but it was no good, man.

the jazzman was frosted.
he had to agitate the gravel.
he left L.A. thinkin about Wyandotte.
he still had his axe and his dogpiss case
but he was runnin low on reeds
and he thought he might be 
gettin the blues.

there was a flick at the time--
it was bitchin, about Death Stars.
it razzed the jazzman's berries.
he knew he needed a schtick, so he kyped a violin,
got the vader threads, and learned to hiss and wheeze.
he wrote a song called “I’m your big daddy-o, Luke baby.”
it bombed.

so the jazzman hit the road
for the last time.
he thought he met Keruac once
outside an old diner in St Paul
but it was just a shadetree mechanic
named Dwayne. he never made it back
to Wyandotte and he lost
the bone box with the beating heart
somewhere just north of Burns Flat
when he got those hellhound blues, Clyde,
really bad.

February 2011 

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry


  1. Confession: Usually, when I see a long poem, my eyes glaze over, but this jam had a hook, and I grooved the whole way through.

    Like them chops, baby.

  2. "snap" "snap"
    fingers snappin' for such a cool beat...
    i dig it, baby.

  3. This one "razzed my berries," as you 12-bar-riffed. Noir elements sauntered in from different alleys - "El Mariachi," the Ancient Mariner, the devil fiddler, Django, and every beat-up devotee of the blues with too many miles under their shoes. Perfect that his soul beats away in a bone box in his back pocket, something to lose, gamble away, deal to the devil in the name of the blues. And yes to coal black's icy dead-on eye.

  4. This should be read in the cantina while Han Solo and Chewbacca curt their deal. Nice one.

  5. a beat poetry mix of reality, adventure, and imagery --- i get those greyhound blues when readin' it...

  6. girl, thanks for the love. yanno, the boys and me played a convention once and we had to all wear star trek get-ups. i was that vulcan chick kirstie alley played before she cleared the planet of hoho's. so this one freak kept yelling at me not to emote. who says that, "emote"? finally i called him a dumfuk and threw a prop enterprise at him. we never got to finish our set cos of the riot.

    anyways, thanks for the props!

  7. my goodness is your writing fantastic...i should've "recorded" my face while reading this...went through all possible emotions...really loved this it possible you're getting better and better all the time..?

  8. oOOoo! You've fed this thing vitamins and unleashed it! The Longview combine, the hairy eyeball...I love all the sharp details. And "really bad" as the last line is perfect.

    Berry kewl, Missy. I love this!

  9. Coal black! A clear gritty panoramama of visuals. Did remind me of On the Road, especially in use of musical journey motif, and I'm starting to think the photographer's name has influenced the prompt (check out SMG's). Nonetheless, "bong hits and bedrest," "razzed the jazzman's berries." Alliteration and wordplay throughout that really gives it a resounding hip hEDGE, witch I enjoyed :)

  10. what a cool piece, all the goodies in the right places...and, he get's laid !!! Cyril Neville told me after a gig, "you really should leave this town"
    I sold my axe a few months later...I know I missed part of the show...

    Peace, hp

    "panoramama"...thanks Adam, I'll be woring on that all day...HA

  11. excellent journey from top to bottom. Had me hangin. Had me hangin.

  12. Totally diggin' this! On the road adventure--love the story--combined with a spoken word cadence that beats any improvisational riff: fantastic! And I love that you ended with "really bad"--made me laugh aloud! Snaps!

  13. Amazing write, and kudos for the jazz and musical references. Loved the way you encapsulated the life of the jazz man. Great stuff!

  14. Thanks all. I've had this one sitting on the back burner awhile and it would never have seen the light of day without the encouragement of coal black's alter ego, Fireblossom.

    @dustus panoramama ought to be a word. the waitress is definitely one, I think.

  15. Love the jazz tone of this - exemplary, in all aspects.

  16. I so love the voice in this! That raspy, way-cool, blues-thumping, dreadlock-nodding, down-low, groovin' thang that lasts all the way through, making the reader smile and groove in response. Loved it, loved it, loved it! Could see every detail. It totally LIVED!

  17. Love this style. Returning to a beat and a back beat always feels like going home for me. Every turn of every type, you create another unique work. It's as though you run the range from Renaissance to Rap with ease. I dub you the Chameleon Poet as you can change color as needed - brilliantly! Your ardent admirer - Gay

  18. This is one of your best ever. Funny and sad and vivid and rhythmic, life and death and blues and jazz.

  19. and a bone box with a
    beating heart
    in his back pocket.
    I liked these lines and was soon hooked in.
    Quite moving poem, I was held throughout.

  20. Moving piece, beating the blues of time... on the road to new places, lost in jazz.

  21. Great write love dogpissed box ..the song he wrote and sang...what a vision you have given here of this jazzman...and the shadetree mechanic in St. covered it your writing in this was pure pleasure...bkm

  22. this is smokin' only thing missing is the original man in black to breathe it out

  23. Speechless! I truly am,Joy!

    It's always the narrative that grips me. And how you find the poetic form that's apt, a perfect fit, which makes it not just a narrative but a multi-dimensional story, so many lives simultaneously lived. There's a collision of worlds in almost every line in this poem. But to me the 'beating heart in the bone box' is the 'story'. Thanks!

  24. When your book is published, you must entitle it Bong Hits and Bedrest. I insist.

  25. darn those 1000 dogs...dont they know i gotta eat off that...what a trip hedge..yeah i can see coal owning this...great beat and storytelling...

  26. I've got visions of travelling storm troopers and bounty hunters not hunting bounty but searching for that one place, that dive, that hang out that will welcome them and they'll enthrall. Spectacular writing!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats