Aching to go...

Our "countdown to May 1st Sabbatical calendar" tells me that it is 5 weeks, 38 days and 919 hours before we leave. I've been reading jazz poems for the last few days and now I am sipping tea and savoring three of them on a frigid but sunny afternoon in the Berkshires. My work at church over for the day, I leave soon to give a "paper" tonight at our men's club about syncopation, call and response and improvisation in jazz. I am aching to leave. Holy Week is coming. I am aching to go - and there are 5 weeks, 38 days and 919 hours to go before we leave. For now the poems and the songs are solace.

Jazz Dancer - Cornelius Eady
I have a theory about motion.
I have a theory about the air..
I have a theory about main arteries and bass lines.
I have a theory about Friday night,
Just a theory, mind you,
About a dry mouth and certain kinds of thirst
And a once-a-month bulge of money
   in a working pair of pants.

I have a theory about kisses,

The way a woman draws a man across a dance floor
Like a ship approaching a new world.
I have a theory about space
And what's between the space

And an idea about words,

A theory about balance and the alphabet,
A theory concerning electricity and the tendons,
A hunch about long glances from across a ballroom
Even though there's a man on her harm
Even though there's a woman on his arm

And Fire and the Ocean,

Stars and Earthquakes,
Explosions as sharp as new clothes
   of the rack.
When I leap,

Brushes strike the lip of a cymbal.

When I leap,
A note cuts through glass.
When I leap,

A thick finger drams on a bass string

And all that sweat,
All that spittle,
All those cigarettes and cheap liquor,

All that lighthearted sass and volcanism,

All that volatile lipstick,
All that

Cleaves the air the way a man and woman

Sweet-talk in a bed.
When I leap,
I briefly see the world as it is
And as it should be

And the street where I grew up,

The saxophones,
Kisses 
And mysteries among the houses

And my sister, dressing in fron of her mirror,

A secret weapon of sound and motion,
A missionary
In the war against
The obvious.

Soloing - Philip Levine
My mother tells me she dreamed
of John Coltrane, a young Trane
playing his music with such joy
and contained energy and rage
she could not hold back her tears.
And sitting awake now, her hands
crossed in her lap, the tears start
in her blind eyes. The TV set
behind her is gray, expressionless.
In is late, the neighbor's quiet,
even the city - Los Angeles - quiet.
I have driven for hours down 99,
over the Grapevine into heaven
to be here. I place my left hand
on her shoulder, and she smiles.
What a world, a mother and son
finding solace in California
just where we were told it would\
be, among the palm trees and all -
night super markets pushing orange
back-lighted oranges at 2 A.M.
"He was alone," she says, and does
not say, just as I am, "soloing."
What a world, a great man half
her age comes to my mother
in sleep to give her the gift
of song, which - shaking the tears
away - she passes on to me, for now
I can hear the music of the world
in the silence of that word:
soloing. What a world - when I
arrived the great bowl of mountains
was hidden in a cloud of exhaust,
the sea spread out like a carpet
of oil, the roses I had brought
from Fresno browned on the seat
beside me, and I could have
turned back and lost the music.

Speed Ball - Yusef Komunyakaa
Didn't Chet Baker know
They made each great white hope
Jump hoops of fire on the edge
Of midnight gigs that never happened?

Miles hipped him at The Lighthouse

About horse, said not to feel guilty
About Down Beat in '53. Chet stole
Gasoline to sniff, doctored with Beiderbecke's

Chicago style. But it wasn't long

Before he was a toothless lion
Gazing up at his face like a stranger's
Caught by tinted lens & brass. Steel -

Blue stare from Oklahoma whispering for

"A kind of high that scares everyone
To death." Maybe a bop angel, Slim
Greer, pulled him from that hotel window.

There is such romance, heartbreak and courage in these songs. They are defiant in the face of great odds and and at the same time so earthy, hopeful and real. I love them dearly.

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