Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Late Afternoons in Summer

Prompted from “The Pupil” by Donald Justice (hat tip Patrick)

That diminished ninth, like Mulgrew Miller,
That rainbow of suspended chords,
How a third could link Los Angeles to New York
And a tonic could go anywhere with different roots.
My fingers curled for all the sly inversions,
My yearning for a chord that rang all notes.
My right hand like a sparrow landed on the plangencies,
Worked Phrygian arpeggios just as Chick Corea danced them
And somber Lydian modes as voiced by the real McCoy.
I sprang a shocking modulation: Bb major to F# diminished,
Then rode the devil's interval ‘cos Monk pretended it was cool
Until it was.

“Will you cut that racket out?” my father said,
“It's too depressing for the afternoon.”
“Depressing,” I sighed, while dampening the pedal,
Now there's a word I hadn't considered, as I poked to see
How close two notes could be to echo cleanly.
The smell of chicken stock came from the kitchen.
Another sunny day gave way its diminuendo cue,
Another night ahead with jazz on the radio 'til three –
The pipes and boards were already drumming and creaking –
Tonight could be the night that Rocket Bob will play some Cecil Taylor.

I gathered up my books and closed the fall board
And put the lingering melancholy to bed
And bravely faced my family once again,
To sit mute through their talk of friends and checklists and success
Before the low hum of synthesizers
And Clint Eastwood droning his rage between the ads.
Another remote evening I waited out to end
And the night to begin, a saxophone at my fingertips
As the tree limb taps the window.