Poems and Poetry

Jazz | A Poem by Marie MacSweeney

A straggle of middle-aged men,
instruments spread before them
and their music, one already
lighting a pipe, and the smoke spirals
in front of the flat-capped pianist
at the black piano.

The signal, a private joke,
and when the laughter subsides
the clarinet leads, tentative, wayward,
slowly finding its exquisite way.
Trombones join in, and the guitar,
the trumpet, the sax.

The room itself swayed by rhythm,
each note urging another on,
a melody, and the melody backtracking,
moving from ferment to reflection,
from motion to stillness, it is
everywhere, it is nowhere at all.

The gleaming silver drums,
the musician’s early brush strokes
like the first lingering caress
of a delicate lovemaking. Afterwards
the thunder, the turmoil, the anger
before the hush – and then the song.

The Jazz Man sings. The clarinet
is calm, and the trumpet.
The guitar sits easy on its stand.
The trombones rest, side by side.
Even the seething drums are silent
as the Jazz Man sings.

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