Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Jazz (Five Takes)

Academic journal article The Hudson Review

Jazz (Five Takes)

Article excerpt


The saxophone's throaty vowels,

thick with insistence, twist

hearing into sight:

I can climb the notes

and balance, as if on a ladder leaning

against nothing.

My body a bell

struck from the inside, pitched

past the range of the nightclub, resonates

along city streets, through steam

stalled above ice-dry grates

and carries far in the cold.


The backbeat of back alleys, where musicians

smoke and talk-a language

punctuated by staccato

rhythms tapped out on dumpsters; beer can

timbales racketing in the hum

of streetlights; idle riffs

on dissonance, day jobs, women;

the scrape of the bar's side door

pulled open and pushed shut

casual phrases coupled with the distant

call and response of sirens

singing to each other.


Like a flock of birds

veering across the sky, the notes

cluster as they lift,

not in unison, yet rising

together, with wingbeats

jagged at first and bodies

close, as if the brief spaces opening

between them will never widen--

until one tilts

away and the others

scatter, still in rhythm, attuned

yet solitary as they bank and settle. …

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