shh sh shhhh crack, “hhmmmm” he hums while he waltzes shh shhh shhhh shhhhhhh shh crack he waltzes shhh sh shhhhh shh crack, pop oh two at a time I watched the man in the white suit, night after night, dance the soft shoe, then tap dance on the cockroaches, under the light by the pawn shop sh shhh shhhh sh, crack “hhhmmmmmm” He seems so happy.Read more "Robert Allen Beckvall – a jazz poem"
Standing in front of her, his alibi failing him, he considered faking
a heart attack like a baseball manager whose team is down 10 runs
one inning away from the game being official and rain on its way.
But no actor could be that good; certainly not him. It was now that
he made the mistake of saying he didn’t know anything for certain
anymore, that he was guessing at everything now, including his
core beliefs; in fact, what others called their core beliefs, he called
his core guesses. Oh, the daggers her eyes tossed at him!!! It was as if
a torrential downpour had begun and the game had gone on anyway.
There are children’s treehouses
in upscale neighborhoods in Edmond,
Oklahoma, with better bones, as
the realtors say, than the potting
shed trailer my family called home
in the Ouachita Mountains of western Arkansas.
Treehouses that Mama, had she not
been afraid of heights, might have
called dream homes. And beneath
these treehouses are lawns green and soft
as big league infields. A boy could
romp barefooted across these lawns
and not even feel his feet touch the ground.
Jazz Inspired Writing Project
In the Time of Covid-19
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.
<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?
Death and destruction?
Who gets a kick, laugh, of their jollies from a million dead?
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.
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.Read more "ROBERT ALLEN BECKVALL – 3 COVID JAZZ POEMS"
“Terms of Service”
A friend recently reminded me of the limited “terms of service” that she came with.
In the background, Ella Fitzgerald climbs a scale that we both saw coming; before the cholla.
No single hiker has ever felt sorry for me; least of all Ella.Read more "LANCE GAMBRELL – “TERMS OF SERVICE”"
1:33 a.m. Tuesday night;
playing on my cable T.V.
it’s like we were destined to be entwined,
Coleman and me,
so basically, nothing ever happened in-between –
no J.F.K. boning half of Jersey
to get his mind off Bays with Pigs in them,
no Flock of Seagulls or gas shortages
for Austin Powers to mull upon,
just Coleman Hawkins finding his way to me –
first fade to black,
I’ve grabbed my spacesuit and enthusiastically attach it,
there is much for Coleman and I to catch up on when he returnsRead more "COLEMAN HAWKINS – JOHN DOYLE"
“Breakfast With a Skeleton”
I walked down the morning stairs
a skeleton sat at my typewriter
he was turning the wheel
trying to get the paper through
“you have to guide it through.”
I said through a yawn
he looked at me snide
his bone and marrow yellowish from decay
what are you looking at?
you’re a god damn skeleton
he took a sip of coffee
I watched it go into his jaw
through his throat
down his belly
and onto the floor
he’d gotten the paper in
and I could hear him now from the kitchen
he was typing something
I called out
I walked over
he was head-down, still typing
I made the eggs— dashed with some cinnamon
I sat on one end of the table
him on the other
I watched the eggs travel through his body
and splat onto the floor where my dog ate them
“is that, is that cinnamon?”
what was left of his face cringed
“what were you writing?”
“what were you writing?”
he took another bite of eggs and said:
“a body for myself.”
“a body for yourself?”
“a vessel for this hollow, lonely, useless, irritating,
appalling arrangement of calcium.”
“that’s what you were writing?”
“that and a love poem.”
“but how do you write a body?”
I asked him
“the same way you write a love poem,
it writes you.”
I had a sip of coffee
“I like you, skeleton, you should stick around.”
I’ve got to get an x-ray today.”
he showed me his broken arm
“you ever tried writing a love poem with a broken arm?”
“no, but I have with a broken heart.”
we sat in silence
just before he read me his body
and his love poem
I cried during bothRead more "POETRY: KYLE PERDUE – “Breakfast With a Skeleton”"
Theo lived with six roommates.
Half of them thought you were black;
half of them thought you were white.
In the month you found refuge on his sofa,
not one of them ever asked, but you could
read their interpretation based on
how they discussed the pricklier points of race.
None of them had been to Virginia, save for one.
He once shot past Washington, D.C. and
spent a couple of hours in Arlington
before he realized his mistake.
He said the Potomac looked ferocious,
but you were a Rappahannock River girl.
You still didn’t know the bodies of water
that threatened to swallow New York.
In Bushwick, the only drops you saw
lined the gutter and pooled on the sidewalk.
Sometimes the cry of seagulls pricked your ears.
A little lost, the birds had not steered too far off course.
But you never mentioned nature to your unwilling neighbors.
“Lavinia,” said Theo one morning, while lighting a joint,
“It’s been nice, but you have to find an apartment.
Craigslist that shit, girl. It’s not that sketch.”
You stopped chewing your grits (a remnant of home)
and nodded slower than a late-night G train.
“It’s all run together,” you say. “I forgot how long I was here.”
“This city sweeps you up, but you learn to fight it.”
He exhales and you both appreciate the clouds he fashions.
“Where do you want to live?” he finally asks.
“Somewhere where I can see the sky,” you say, surprising yourself.
“Welcome to Brooklyn. No tunnels of building shadows here.”
“As long as it’s cheap,” you say, thinking of closets and slums.
You don’t add that you have nearly run out of savings
because Theo will try to convince you to work at his office,
the call center that lets him reschedule his shifts for auditions.
You didn’t flee to New York to ooze in and out of a 9-to-5.
You didn’t move here to dread every day of your existence.
You came here to revel in textiles, to dress Broadway’s stars,
to tell stories through costumes like you dreamt in school.
“We’ll look at listings and book appointments for tomorrow,”
says Theo in a daze now that the pot has hit him.
“Sure, load me up,” you mutter and grab his joint.
It’s your moment to escape, to surrender
as a speckled seagull shrieks outside.
Read more "POETRY: Christine Stoddard – “Apartment Hunting”"
A new development
in a gated community
promises local jobs,
paying minimum wage
to guard and tend
the manors of privilege,
entry only permitted
to the servant class
in the line of duty.
~Read more "POETRY: GARY BECK – SERVITUDE"
The Most Honest Syllable Is Shhh
Certainly I rinsed the vegetables.
A drummer killed himself
but I’m not even sure
he was a drummer.
The caravan abandoned the camel
in the Target parking lot.
Xanax builds the cornerstone of selfishness
on the diversion of punctuality.
A snake finds a railroad tie, hallelujah!
When working on an orgasm, distractions like the dog
scratching the french door, or the child
opening your bedroom door, or the dryer
beeping, or the washer beeping, or the timer
for the raspberries beeping, or the jazz
interrupted by the news, John Kerry broke his leg
while cycling a stretch of the Tour de France.
The ideal exists in the poems the fewest of us read.
Three people see a poem on a postcard and the national average is rattled.
Not everyone on a sofa with a bong and an acoustic guitar is cool.
I was 10 and hadn’t lost my virginity, sort of.
The Marriage Cycle:
anger proceeded by feisty dignity
followed by sacrifice.
The gangplank of adulthood is sacrifice and feisty dignity.
Children ache for actions of their own making,
not smoke machines but actual smoke.
You aren’t supposed to fast forward anyone
from The Last Waltz.
~Read more "POETRY: TIM STALEY – THE MOST HONEST SYLLABLE IS SHHH"