Eyes Like Mingus -- a jazz poetry anthology
Jazz poetry is not always about musicians. Sometimes the syntax/ flow has a syncopation to it that reminds one of jazz, especially if one is thinking of Be-Bop or just Bop.
When I first started learning about jazz, I started with the 20s and worked my way up to the gates of Bop - city where I stalled out. Not only couldnít I get Bop; I couldnít find the "head" & forget about tapping your foot to the beat! I was young, so very, very young.
20 years later, I finally got it. It took me awhile, but a few years back, it all fell into place. Bop, , is a transcendant experience: sound and movement, chaos and serenity, and most of all, space. So to, these poems flow to a unique rhythm.
About the dedication. Steve Fowler, a "musicianís musician" (so says Mark Weber), composer, a performer of experimental jazz with Vinny Golia (Nine Winds Records), fighter of ALS (killer of Charles Mingus & Lou Gehrig). He & I became friends in 1998. This book is dedicated to him and to all who continue to buck the odds.
RD Armstrong (editor & poet)
Eyes Like Mingus (For Steve Fowler) Eyes like flint like flecks of coal like shiny bits of starless sky trapped in the ruins of a slag heap Eyes like molten steel sullen and angry piercing -- a bullet finding its mark like a jaguar passionate and alive yet hating the trap pacing behind the bars bars like a skeleton trapped inside the mind behind Eyes like Mingus like notes caught in the net like the grid of notation like Mingus in shamanic Mexico trapped in a chair no strength to grip no fingers to coax notes with no feet to stand up and count with no time -- no signature Eyes like concrete -- shattering like glass -- splintering like the wrecking ballís slap like voltage -- unregulated like a passion laid bare to the galleryís scrutiny like the madmanís frothing nightmare like the inexplicable accuracy of random fate like a shot to the belly like Coltraneís "Favorite Things" like your fingers -- stilled Eyes like an empty glass staring bug-eyed into space upturned and dispassionate like a dream -- lost in the stars Eyes like Mingus silent but never silenced. by RD Armstrong 1962 the old black hawk booked the best jazz musicians of its day Getz, Mulligan, Diz to name just a few I went there but twice once with the poet Jack Micheline once with a young Latin girl to see Miles Davis blow his horn forced to sit in the teenage section because she was only 17 sipping on a coke smoke curling around the room in long lingering lazy circles sweet sax smooth slow gin tenor my hand on warm thigh feeling high feeling cool be-bop rhtythms dancing inside my soul by AD Winans bud powell on verve (for bob austin) i always had trouble with the fast guys -- charlie parker, coleman hawkins, bud powell -- i guess i was a young romantic in search of the lyrical, rhapsodic, and climatic -- stan kenton, gerald wilson, coltrane, ahmad jamal -- the brooding miles who really slowed things down and took them overseas. but now the liner notes instruct my ear in the "romantic agony" of improvisation at a breakneck pace: the challenge of it, living on the brink of failure, the incomparable concentration on coordination of brain, heart, and fingers, context of the rhythm section, historical gestalt, the journey taking him from classically trained child of a musician through the smoke and drugs of urban blues clubs to the left-bank caves where his piano would personify le-jazz-hot. as with heart crane, it was artistry within a crumbling tower, the crystal peal of aching bells. i havenít spent my obligatory april in paris yet, but i have known the bareness of december in the gardens there. as caillebotte perceived, it sometimes rains on sundays on parisian boulevards. time has a way of getting out of 4/4 joint, and sometimes it is best that we just take it somewhere; sometimes itís the last control we ever exercise. sometimes the stars are only in our eyes, and sometimes we no longer have the lungs to contemplate ascending the steep stairway to the end of night. eventually even bud powell has to slow things down and meditate, grown elegaic: cíest la vie; it was just one of those things; it never even entered my mind. it never entered his mind. it never entered ours. and then it does. and sometimes not so tenderly. by Gerald Locklin
The Little Red Book series: books #2 -- 6
The House of Lummox: "A Journey Up The Coast" RD Armstrong aka: Raindog
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