Jazz Portrait Poems

Jazz Portrait Poems

by Florence Wetzel

copyright © 2002 Florence Wetzel

June Christy

the hippest white girl
with a haircut so bad
it was cool

* * *

Bill Evans

very early
hours of aloneness
with music
very early

insides of sound
a piece of peace
in the slowest suicide
on record

the most beautiful kind of beauty
and such pleasure
when you discover this
for yourself

* * *

Perry Robinson

There is no doorbell
but the door is open --
Perry's house

* * *

Bix Beiderbecke

Bix of Iowa, of ice skating, first kisses, and riverboats
Bix of great joy and sounds all new
What a wonderful time to be young
What a wonderful time to break wide the sky

Yes a revolution
from an average young boy
and yes an American mind
can kaleidoscope sound

But your talent slipped between notes
Drunk, limping, hats hiding your wide face
and dead at age 28
There is your shame
and there is your lost gold

It ended like it did
but Bix you do shine still
That's you mounting the stage, cornet in hand
The air is waiting, and it must be filled
by your stars

* * *

John Coltrane

Libra of pursuance
to notes struck by beauty
man I was like religion
the same to be saint

wide psalm of sound
peoples the divine
truth has a name
and music makes the better world

* * *

Alice Coltrane

I want to write a poem for you, Alice Coltrane
I want to know what it was like
to love a man with a heart in sound
I want to know about you, I want to know how you stilled your hands
when he wanted you to
My agenda stopped you said
Your agenda and it goes on the wind
the words of it spiral in the air
and do not wait for you

I want to know what it was like, Alice Coltrane
when he left his wife and moved in with you
He brought his horns
He took up space
space like a tunnel and its a one way ticket
to God
It could have been any woman you said
is that modesty is it humble
or is it how love comes from a man
who dissolves his atoms from will

I want to know what you felt, Alice Coltrane
traveling with the quartet
you on the sidelines and not on stage like before
your hands were so still
was it enough to hear him
you were pregnant yes twice
my agenda stopped
it could have been any woman

What was it about, Alice Coltrane
when he invited you to join
and you played after not playing two years
I was blowin' some chords, you said
he was gentle, he was patient
but where did he love you
where did he hold you in all that sound
the great man the great one
but where and how

How did you feel, Alice Coltrane
as the man you loved lay still on the couch
hand on his liver listening to his music
I didn't ask how he felt, you said
I was busy with the kids and I felt
that he didn't want me to ask
Your husband was dying, Alice Coltrane
Afternoons in Long Island changing a diaper in one room
half light and fear and fading and sounds in the next
Your husband is dying, Alice Coltrane

How could you move, Alice Coltrane
with three children under age four and your husband dead
You spoke to him after he died, you said
You had severe personal problems two years later
someone else said
and you changed your name
into Satchinananda

How did you go on, Alice Coltrane?
You are Turiya now and Alice Coltrane
lays on top of Alice McLeod
Your agenda is a star and
loving a great man
loving a great man
is hard

You lost your oldest son in a car crash
How did you live after that?

Tell me how it feels Alice Coltrane
tell me how it feels
now that the one-way ticket has arrived
The great man is a billion pieces of free light
And in the morning when you wake up
you wake up

Florence Wetzel co-authored Perry Robinson: The Traveler with the autobiographical clarinetist.

C o m m e n t s

Your Poetry 1 of 2
Nora McCarthy
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February 15, 07

Florence, I found your poetry to be extremely vivid and well crafted. I thought every piece was masterfully done. I didn't know you were such a wonderful poet. I'm glad I found your poetry. I'd like to read some of it at my shows if I may have your permission. Thank You. Nora

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