Two from school


so many paintings
Two Fingers
The Lovers
Frieda and Diego Rivera
what you’d expect

but what catches my eye?
the two black
and white photographs
of crepuscular rays
and clouds
both titled

how do the docents
end the trip
for my students?
staring at a flag
with green and black
stripes with black stars
on an orange field
then looking at
a whiteboard

* * *

Jazz Talk

   Wealth and fame
   he’s ignored
   Action is his reward

the thrumming of those four strings
walking that bass line
under four-color animated lyrics

thank goodness it wasn’t
the Simpson theme
it was time for another
song to take its place

   Happy talk, keep talkin’ happy talk,
   Talk about things you’d like to do.

eleven octaves on the electric keyboard
the melody in the right hand
but not held – palm turned down
as ephemeral as sound
as short as memory

it’s a good thing students
don’t have a sustain pedal
I’d never have any quiet

   All aboard, get on the “A” train
   Soon you will be on Sugar Hill in Harlem

Billy wrote this one
on his way to see Duke
but it was Joya who penned the lyrics

Everybody should know Duke’s music

   Potato, potahto,
   Tomato, tomahto

not just listening to the vocalist
but us singing too – call and response

gives new meaning to auditorium

   Seven steps to heaven

riding that rhythm
and brushes on the snare drum

that’s one of the sounds
that makes me love jazz

   It don’t mean a thing,
   if it ain’t got that swing


* * * * *

The first poem was written in response to the prompt from We Write Poems to write a yin/yang poem based on any kind of pairings that are complementary.

It was inspired by a field trip to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. We’re participating in a program called Visual Thinking Strategies, and a field trip to a museum to use those thinking strategies with actual art pieces, as opposed to reproductions in the classroom, is part of the program. While my class was split into small groups, led by docents, I was free for an hour to walk around the museum on my own. It was heavenly.

The second poem was not written to any prompt. The San Francisco Symphony has a program called Adventures in Music. It includes a trip to Davies Symphony Hall, which we’ve already done, but also visits to our school by professional musicians. This poem was my attempt to capture the magic of live music as performed by the quartet that called itself Jazz Talk.

These two poems seemed to go together, as they were inspired by art and music, were made possible by the experiences I have as a teacher, and were my attempts to reflect in poetry that art and music (and maybe a little teaching snuck in there too).

14 thoughts on “Two from school

  1. Pingback: Thursday Poets Rally Week 42 (April 21-27) | Promising Poets' Poetry Cafe

  2. wow, I got you again,
    this time, it is different…..

    check out poetry potluck today at JP, first time participants are welcome to submit random poems. hope to see you in when you are ready, bless your day.

    10 hours to go before we close, come on it…no requirement…


  3. Especially loved Jazz Talk…I have a friend who has a more keenly developed interest in music than I…but has helped me appreciate more genres of music. Jazz among them. I’ll have to share this one with my friend, if that’s ok.



  4. Jingle, thanks for stopping by again. I’m not sure I understand the whole poetry potluck thing. And, as it is, I seem to have missed the deadline to leave a post. I’ll check back later and see if I can figure it out.

    Stan, glad you found it stimulating.

    Tilly, thanks. These are definitely different than my usual poems. I can’t say I’m satisfied with them; maybe they’re experiments. They may not be great poems, but they were fun to write.

    Andy, glad you like them. I have to say the musicians do a good job selecting music that will appeal to the children, so that song (you know the one) from Mary Poppins was a lot of fun.

    Paula, glad you liked Jazz Talk. Please, share away.


  5. Even when no music is to be heard, I hear it. It haunts me in a form of symbiosis. Without it, I don’t know if I could write poetry. Symbiosis? Psychosis?

    Now you’ve given me a prompt. Must follow the music . . . must write.


  6. Pingback: HEAR THE MUSIC | The Poet's Quill

  7. Mike, I listen to music pretty much constantly. I always have quiet, background music, usually movie soundtracks, playing when I’m writing – and also when I’m reading others’ poems. Anything with lyrics is too distracting. It’s definitely symbiotic. Glad to have inspired you; I’ll have to check in at your blog and read what you’ve come up with.


  8. Interesting how the painting called Equivalent expresses the idea of complementary pairings.
    Love how you ended the Jazz poem.


  9. Irene, thanks. I loved that idea of the two photographs, both called Equivalent, hanging next to each other. They had to be at the center of my poem. Thanks – I thought it best to just let the music speak for itself there at the end.

    Viv, thank you. I’m gratified that you liked these. People with eclectic musical tastes are the best!



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