ROBERT ALLEN BECKVALL – 3 COVID JAZZ POEMS

Jazz Inspired Writing Project

In the Time of Covid-19

May

Another lovely day because I didn’t take a header off the 12th story balcony. It would surprise the shit out of the folks washing their car down there. Blood, suds, brain matter and spinal fluid. About to die, I say very quietly that I need a drink like Dennis Hopper in True Grit. And luckily they had a hose handy, and they could wipe my brow with the shammy.

<jazz inspirations>

<Pravin Thompson-A Thoughtful Collapse>

<Herb Albert & The Tijuana Brass-Going Places>

This is like my DNA, played so many times in my house when I was growing up. We had whip cream too.

<Yazz Ahmed-Under Quiet Skies>

This life was lived to the fullest, including hearing your horn, young lady. Sublime.

<Yussef Dayes-For My Ladies>

Who profits from the revolution?

Chaos?

Death and destruction?

Who gets a kick, laugh, of their jollies from a million dead?

Hitler, yes.

Who is Hitler now?

Who grinds, for pleasure, under their boot heel?

<Arturo O’Farrill and The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra>

Mother’s Day Thank You/Mahalo/Gracias Letters to Mi Madre Y Mi Esposa (clarity of vision in the time of virus)

~

My Mom-Sandra Sue-The Red Headed Kid from Miami, Arizona

A swan ran right up to me and bit my stomach

Laugh-In, while we practically lived in Burbank. We were born in Burbank. We laughed in Burbank.

I fell out of a tree in Hollywood or thereabouts.

The Batmobile was on display.

The Rose Parade floats, floated past the laundry mat.

<Tito Puente>

We saw the Beatles “Yellow Submarine”

They baked a chocolate choo-choo train cake.

Tacos in yellow paper from Taco Bell, tacos from Jack-when there was still a jack-in-the-box on display

You teamed up with the lady from the Phoenix Library and changed my life forever with Dr. Seuss

Thank you for reading to us from the fairy tale book.

It was a pleasure staying up late with you and watching Johnny Carson.

We watched Walter Cronkite and Neil Armstrong “Take that giant leap for mankind”

Thomas Mall was wonderful with those fish and birds on display.

It was great going with Gram B. to the cafeteria.

We hung with Louis, Rudy, Auntie, Ray, Mickie, the cousins, and of course Gram J., where the slag lit up the sky like lava.

Thanks for tennis, ping-pong, the yellow radio, running/exercising/salads/yogurt, movies late at night, Disney records, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, popsicles, seeing the dog go crazy and tear up the trash and get on the kitchen table, and taking Bill home because he got too scared for the tent.

Thanks for taking my side when I had to smash that kid with a stick in the woods after he pissed on me.

Thanks for the interesting mixed bag of an honors student who was also the student that got in the most trouble.

Thanks for taking me to football and baseball and YMCA.

Thanks for camping trips and trips across the country.

Thanks for cabins, chalets, trips to Disney, trips to Juarez, seeing Elvis’ Graceland, and for helping me take the bottles in from construction in Memphis.

Thanks for letting me spend hours in the record section.

Thanks for letting me play Kiss, Elton John, and Queen too loud.

Thanks for swimming in the swimming pools.

Thanks for the meals, meals, meals, and the cool lunchboxes.

Thanks for halloweens, and Casper masks, and dressing like a bum.

El Paso Tennis Club, Ahwatukee Racquet Club, Kiwanis Tennis Center, Tempe Racquet & Swim, & Corona del Sol.

Thanks for being there when I scored some touchdowns in El Paso & Globe.

Thanks for being there when we baptized the little Chinese kid.

Thanks for the Christmas & flowers & John Wayne.

Thanks for the green enchiladas off Mill at the City of Tempe.

Thanks for the love & thanks for being there for 56+ years.

 

~

For My Beautiful Chinese Girls on Mother’s Day 2020

I am sorry about today and everyday, that was a heaven & hell. As you can see I was an honors kid, who fought, lit fires, smashed windows, stole things, smoked, drank, raised hell at school, and was generally a little shit. There is something wrong under the hood of the car of me. The engine is astray, and it runs very well at times, and at others it sputters and chokes, and makes loud explosions and belches smoke.

This early morning it is running cool and fast, with your favorite music, and on the way to your favorite destination. So let us listen and ride:

Poor mom got so sick when she was with you. Throwing up with regularity, even as she ate so many vegetables so that you could be smart and strong.

When you were born, they had to sew mom back up. It was harrowing. Of course I made it back from the hospital cafe for the great event.

You slept on my chest that night as mom recovered.

OK world, let us announce that Xiao Yi J. Wang-Beckvall is here. The Chinese Viking. AKA, Eir Wang-Beckvall. The Valkyrie Healing Goddess. Did we have some fun?

Running down the birds by the ocean, on my back for Waikiki adventures while mom played tennis, hanging with cousin Matty T at the Turtle Bay.

Rainbow School and checking you in every morning with the armed guards at the federal building. You were VERY safe.

Little outfit for Sacred Hearts, in the dance class and your first piano lessons with the Sister.

Good fun in Arizona at the club, at the Reid Park Zoo (giving a Marine a Barbie for the Toys for Tots), the Desert Museum.

Mom was so nervous at the baseball game, that ran long as the D-backs took so long to beat the Cardinals. The babysitters were up while you cried.

How about some terrorism? Some 9-11? Some Luis Gonzales hitting the winning shot in the bottom of the 9th?

Damn, it’s hot in Tucson & Phoenix. It was light and nice at Mt. Lemmon, in Sedona, in Flagstaff, and eventually in Prescott. In Heber and the Mogollon Rim, it was pine smells and breezes.

Waikiki School was wonderful, and you were a hit to boot. Accompany the singers on piano, play your part in Carmen, and you were what? No, we were what? The student of the year for 5th & 6th grade, while we were named family of the year too? With a certificate from our legislator, still on the fridge as I write? (your damn straight)

You were a thoughtful kid, a quiet kid, a solid kid, a loving kid, a smart kid, with a tough mom, a mom that could go from medicine to education to real estate. A couple of real winning attitude women, and the world needs you now more than ever, as fools of men want to blow up the world because “they can’t have it”, WWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!

It is and was a team effort, mostly with mom and you, but I was there always with a quiet tear in my eye as you sang in broadway numbers, and were named “bestest” young woman of Hawaii. I enjoyed helping you drop off things for the homeless kids, making cards and singing with the old folks at Christmas, and you gave tennis lessons to the little kids here and there.

Mom, like moms around the island, USA, and world are, the backbone of the family, the thoughtful ones, the tried and true ones. The ones that pick up the shit, when the shit hits the fan. Probably thrown by the dads, or sons, or brothers, or other foolhardy souls that inhabit this same realm.

It seems queens and princesses will have to teach and nurse and doctor, and lead their countries out of this black time we call life 2020.

Those beautiful ones that eat vegetables, sing to their stomachs, and stay up at 3 a.m. throwing up because it has to be done by the strongest ones. She is them. Thank you girls. Chinese girls. Strong Chinese girls. Let’s swim.

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ANDREW HUBBARD – 2 POEMS

Sharing the Bathroom

I over-analyze everything

I know it’s true

(And you’ve told me enough times.)

But why on earth

Would I find it sexy

To watch you shave your armpits?

Knowing me you won’t be surprised

To find I made a list:

  • Because everything you do is sexy
  • Because you touch yourself

With such unconscious concentration

  • Because you say you do it

To look pretty for me

  • Because I love the smell of your hair
  • Because it’s something nobody else

Sees you do

  • Because it’s commonplace

And mysterious and intimate

All at the same time.

  • And because the lines of your raised arm,

Your neck, and your wrist

Make me think of a Rodin sculpture.

~

Turn Down the Lights

Hey, it was more than kind of you

To come home with me

And you so much younger

And thinner and all.

And I’ll do my best

Not to disappoint you.

Honest to God, if I disappoint you

I don’t think I’ll ever

Go to a bar again.

But hey I’m going to be honest,

Only because there’s no alternative:

I look better dressed,

So I’m going to turn down the lights.

Those horrible white curvey smiles

On the skin behind my thighs,

They’re from the hip replacements.

The thick-soled shoes

Just bring me back

To the height I used to be.

I joke that my ears pop

When I take them off,

But it’s not that bad.  Yet.

I’m not tearing my eyeballs,

I’m just taking off my contacts.

Hopefully you can’t see me

The same as I can’t see you.

Now excuse me, I’m going to the bathroom

To take some pills.

The flatulence ones work pretty well

And the little blue one

Had damn well better work.

What’s that look you’re giving me?

It better not be

The “I-made-a-mistake” look.

I have many fine qualities.

You said so yourself

Not two hours ago.

Now hang on,

I’ll be right back.

SEPTEMBER 2018

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John Anthony Fingleton – Moorlands

Moorlands

A soft wind blew across the moor,
And the heather danced in tune,
Some grouse flew up to test the air,

Then snuck back, into its sweet perfume.
A sparrow hawk circled low,
In anticipation of its prey,
Then attracted by some other thing;
It quickly flew away.

A beauty haunts this desolate place,
With its contours shaped by ice,
Where beasts can still roam wild and free –
A small touch of paradise.
Bracken on the moor-edge slopes,
Mixed flora in the glens,
All produce their radiant colours,
Without the help or seed of men.

The walkers-path is overgrown,
Not many came this year,
The changes in the weather,
Have brought many summer storms to Clare.
There are some patches now of topsoil,
I hadn’t noticed at first glance,
Just a small sign – like so many others –
That we are on our final chance.

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DS Maolalai – 5 POEMS

The scavenger.

 

the table

is on its back.

legs in the air

like a dog playing dead.

and like someone

whos just killed a dog,

I work screws loose,

and ikea bolting. search the box

for the vice-grips

and various allen wrenches,

place pieces of metal

in the upturned lids of jars. the linoleum

gives on my knees. I shift my weight,

searching for scraps

of softness. clink – another one

and the leg comes loose. I’ve watched

documentaries – ants

crawling on a dead cow, collapsing

with high speed photography.

another leg goes – tendons

break with my weight. above me

creepers collapse. you bring me a beer

and tell me the van

is almost full.

you’re ready to go

when I’m ready.

 

 

 

 

Patience.

 

around us

traffic stacks

like cards in a game

of patience.

I am a card,

flipped up

and sliding forward

from one place

to a more useful

one. to the west

the hills

are white and lovely –

it snowed last night,

but didn’t stick

to footpaths. I live in the city,

work outside; sometimes

I think I’m lucky

that every day

I leave.

the hills pile

like white clothes

on laundry day.

I look at them,

bored with patience;

note their creases,

their stains

and grease.

 

 

 

 

Like little creatures.

 

words roll a mosey

and stroll down main street.

 

flit like

little creatures

and slip the quick

away. all those conversations

we had once in the sun,

 

flashing

with glorious yellow

for a moment,

 

only a moment,

and then dying

and drying,

 

flying on wind,

paper brown

like blown and broken dandelions.

 

 

 

 

Why we’ve decided

that we don’t want children:

 

because as things are

our lives already

are built around

the dog.

 

making sure she shits

where we want her to shit.

that she sleeps

where we want her

to sleep, and pisses

where we want her

to piss. I wake in the night

when she’s anxious

and take her out.

and it’s always

because of bathroom stuff,

like apples

falling from apple trees.

 

she rolls about,

flicks her tail

and watches

as I put it in a bag.

my life

made in image

of her life. topiary, bent

around wires, drawn

to uncomfortable

shapes.

 

 

 

 

Our life on saturdays.

 

three o’clocks come

and four o’clocks,

handed about like toffees.

the hour trundles forward,

determined as a turnspit dog.

 

beneath the clock

and we lounge about

on sofas in our underwear, playing with

the dog’s belly

and with each others

hairs. shifting through tv shows

like someone at a junction

lost in a foreign city

trying to find

their train. we drink beer

from teacups and cups

of tea with the curtains drawn,

cast about for cravings

of something specific to eat.

we loll, purposeless as cattle grazing,

relaxed as cattle, expectant

as cattle.

 

our life on saturdays

is a vague one,

without interest. you like it

like this. I like it too,

like you.

 

 

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Julia Gerhardt – The Invisible Stranger

The Invisible Stranger

I love lying,

in my own bed,

with my hands

stretched above my head

and my fingers barely touch one another—

as if they are unfamiliar,

as if they are unknown to the rest of me.

And now it’s not just a touch, but a graze,

an affectionate line drawn onto one finger

by the other.

I wait.

The line ends

and becomes a hook,

an unwillingness to part;

a stage to go through,

a grief.

I don’t want to let go

of the unfamiliar hand,

lying next to mine

The invisible stranger,

I hope to see again.

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Alexus Erin – MAKING SANDWICHES

Making Sandwiches

Me & my brain are making sandwiches for the first time in years
& I remember
I like sourdough. I wonder
whose hands made the bread & if this cooking,

this creation, is a kind of holiness. My brain laughs.
We’re having a sleepover on a school night
& I wonder
whose mother authorized it

By the grace of God
I am with my brain
& by the grace of God,
this brain’s a scrappy one

Which is to say, she is still sprinting: I’m impressed-
she did a lot of math this month. I joke that
she looks like she’s here
to eff the party up.

Brain tells Body (my body’s here too)
The first rule
of any effective love practice
is to synthesize its thoughtwork

with its bodywork: “Classic
substance-presence query, honeybee,” she sighs
& I know
that sigh was for me

I tell them, “First rule
of the big city
is to mind ya own damn business.” My body sets up
a cot at the foot of my bed

Gingerly removes her stockings, that they won’t rip
& I know
mishandling must be a violence
in which the body keeps score. She, of all people,

must be keeping score- I could stand
to learn a thing or two from this inclination
of tenderness, alone
My mouth, every morning,

famously reaching,
rooting ‘round any regional iteration of the daylight
To inhale a verbose evidence
& then exhale, like

my photosynthesis must be scheduled
to kick in any day now
As though this were the only thing
I knew how to do

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Mickey J. Corrigan – 3 POEMS

Predation

The cockroach wasp
stings her host
in the brain
and the roach is enslaved
enacting wasp desires
bearing wasp eggs
until they hatch.

The roach brain
being the size
of the dot
on this “i”
or smaller.

When the eggs hatch
offspring live off
the host roach,
emerge fully grown.

When the cockroach wasp
does what comes natural
to carry on
her species
we marvel at her skill
innate, precise, deadly—

you, my cockroach wasp
and I, your willing roach.

~

Phyllostachys bambusoides

a species of bamboo
grows and flourishes
for a hundred years,
then flowers
en masse—
a stand, a forest,
seeds and scent and beauty
before quickly dying.

We just fall apart

drifting through long years
the long days empty
of those who passed
who loved and left
us and one thing
after another, parts that seize
thoughts that flee and hours
drifting like snow.

Be the bamboo tree—
ripen, thrust, bloom
in a blaze of useless glory
then drop, giving back
to the depleted earth
where we are all
rooted together.

~

In Our Neighbor’s Pool

We are naked, it’s late
the night dark and lit up
wildly
we sink together
below the surface, lean bodies
submerged in black water
dirty ash embers that float
singe our skin
when we come up for air
to seek time by a moon
hidden in thick smoke
floating in the other half
of a beautiful California sky.

You nod to me as you go
under again to gather the bones
your ancestors have left for you. I am
empty, out of clean air to hold.

If life
is a series of refusals
we said yes to the stripping,
to frigid water, the fiery night
to the death run, hot rage
to live
stronger than the burning world.

When the shit is streaming
we are together
through gasps of dry chill
watch it all go up
the cars char skeletons
the trees inflamed pillars
houses hollowed out, everything
crayoned gray in the ghost mists.

We built our nest
fluffed the glossy feathers
made love and babies
gathered trinkets
from the outside world and now
a pile of blackened sticks.

We are together
holding hands underwater
coming up as the starlings
leap into the morning sky
seeking higher nests.

This is the story we will tell
the story that will build us
a new house, a new way
to wander the green world
watering it with our tears

of naked gratitude.

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Latha Kottapalli – An Ode to Black Gold

An Ode to Black Gold

Roots pulled from hiding

Soothe my soul like soup.

Into you, I empty their skins.

Crucifers crisped to crunch,

Laced with lemon, linger on my tongue.

Into you, I empty their stalks.

Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

Greet my lips with kisses of meringue.

Into you, I empty their shells.

Coffee beans roasted to an aroma

Titillate my nose to chase the whiff.

Into you, I empty their grounds.

Drupes drooping from stems

Satiate my sweet tooth.

Into you, I empty their stones.

Autumn’s burst of hues,

A muse for my eyes.

Into you, I empty its leaf litter.

Into you, I empty all the refuse.

Off you stir and cook them to a new birth.

Lo and behold, Black Gold tumbles out.

Gold that crumbles to the touch.

Smells like the parched earth

When kissed by the first rain spells.

Gold that soaks up like a sponge, springs up

As the roots, stone fruits, and all that nourishes.

O Earth, your kindness knows no bounds.

 

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TIM STALEY – Confession, honesty and repentance are my first steps forward.

This isn’t a poem or a joke.

This is a confession. Confession, honesty and repentance are my first steps forward.

From approximately 1985 to 2001

I participated in racist behaviors.

I called black people racist names.

I looked down on black people and laughed at racist jokes.

I was not an ally to the one black student in the graduating class of my high school.

I wish to repent these crimes

in earshot of America. It took me 45 years to say these words.

It took me 45 seconds to say these words.

A wise poet once said you have to write about the one thing that scares you most.

Maybe this is the first poem I’ve ever written.

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