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Improvijazzation Nation - Issue # 47

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  (for Charlie Parker)

Bird, you flew through the window
of my eyes
and into my brain, blinding
me with light.
Your song pierced my ears
deafening me
in my darkness.  Now
I see nothing -- and all
I can hear
is the beating of broken wings
and the hiss of shattered glass.

--JeanPaul Jenack--

"Bird" copyright © 1997 by JeanPaul Jenack, originally appeared in print in
the poetry journal Malevolence (Willoughby, Ohio),  #6, Autumn, 1997.


woke up to blazing silence
digital clock brandishing
double eighty-eights
against the driving afternoon rain
snatched from the crosshairs
of morning by another blackout
pity the drunk who hit the electric
pole couldn't join me
for a bloody mary, but
what the hell, every cloud
has a silver lining, am i right?

-- JeanPaul Jenack --

"88:88" copyright © 1997 by JeanPaul Jenack originally appeared in print in
the poetry journal blood & feathers, #2, October, 1997.

statement for the record

little is known at this time
facts are still coming in
as spin-doctors
seize the day

where in god's name he
got the plutonium
is anyone's guess, & why
& how he connected it

to the old record player
is still a mystery
what is known
right now is this: when fbi

agents traced the long
cord around
the house & into his maze-
like basement

they found him stone-
cold with a half-smile
upon his vinyl face -
blood dripping from

his headphones -
as if listening to
a minotaur's song
of his own creation.

-- JeanPaul Jenack --

"statement for the record" copyright © 2000 by JeanPaul Jenack, originally
appeared in print in the science fiction/horror magazine The Ultimate
Unknown (Streamwood, Illinois), Issue #20, Summer, 2000.  [ISSN: 1083-4923)




Rochelle Hope Mehr


Most people fear

                  the unadorned page

  because they see

       a vacuum swooping

             to annihilate


But I love the whiteness

       the purity of potential

                      the unrestricted range

and gravitate down

                    from my aerie

                              to prey

          on preconceptions


Rochelle Hope Mehr


I don't know the point of balance --
            the weight of ballast --

                              required to settle
                                                   the hold.

        I greet the tiger each day --
                                          my frippery display

                              in frenetic disarray
                      and he swipes it away
                               with the sweep
                                                      of his tail.


Rochelle Hope Mehr


To create something freshly
      toasted with the cinnamon
                              of pique

I do not strive for disclosure
   but when the champagne is uncorked
      I could just float away

         choked with chic
         constricted at the jaw
         wanting more




Joseph K.’s Grievance

(Por Benito Martinez, quien, en el Septiembre de 1999, fué echado, bruscamente, entre las páginas fantasticas de Lo Prueba, un novela por el escritor aleman Franz Kafka.)


I never broke the law. What are my rights?

I should not have asked them, just like a fool:

“I only wish to know why I was stopped....”

Por Dios! They came at me like a pit bull!


I should not have asked them just like a fool....

My heart beat fast the closer they got near.

Por Dios! They came at me, those damned pit bulls!

Badges and guns make Anglos gods out here.


Oh man! My heart beat fast when they got near.

Sucio! But not to a judge and jury.

Es Verdad! A badge and they’re gods out here.

You ever feel like someone’s out to get you?


Sucio! Just can’t tell a judge and jury:

“I work in radio, not in las drogas!”

You ever feel like someone’s out to get you?

What if I had been black for kin to bury,


And my life had been radio, not drogas?

It could have been that way. Think I don’t know?

Thank God I wasn’t black for kin to bury.

Just Christ to see, and no real “proof” to show.



It could have been much worse. Think we don’t know?

And all because I asked why I was stopped....

Did Christ see? Is there just my word to show?

I never broke the law. What are my rights?


Robert Betts






variation on a theme by e. e. cummings


(After: since feelings are first)

since two blinding feelings are first

who must pay any attention

to the semantics of things

will never wholly kiss one:

wholly willed a wise one

while Spring drips red for him or her in the world


my tears approve,

and lashes are a truer fate

than kisses

lady i swear by all worms. Don’t laugh

--the worst gesture of my brain is greater than

your eye’s narrow vision which says


we are neither lovers nor siblings for each other; then

cry, fleeing away from my world mourning arms

for life’s not a meaning


and death i think is no worthwhile glossary search


Robert Betts






Here the parent aged, lonely, forgotten,

                bedridden, dying, dead.

Here the slighted friend fatally fallen.

Here the gunshot victim, mugged, precious red ebbing,

                knowing the blistering blow to wife and daughter,

                feeling the death creep.

Here the wife meditating the marriage moribund,

                dead in the car mangled in the intersection.

Here the faithful, ever ignored employee,

                crushed as the plane crashed.

Here the unemployed desperado,

                gun in hand at a bank.

Here the patronized, unknown writer, persistence a felled, worn tree,

                persevering hope splinters and shattered crystal,

ending the final chapter with a barbiturates and alcohol period.



The child remembering, regretting, reflecting, picking up the phone.


The friend regretting, writing the letter of reconciliation.


The police with paramedics, surrounding the body with their efficient thoughts.


The husband at the door with a gift and a three words rehearsal.


The boss planning the promotion, the raise, the award.


Personnel calling the applicant, wondering why there’s no answer.


The last editor in his office, reading the novel, screaming, “Genius!”









Needs more and Heaven less from thee.

(from Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Religion”)


millions ask God for nothing

and get billions

i asked God for a desperate nickel

and he mercifully

gave me a penny


millions flip the bird at Him

and get blessed


Him flipped the bird at me

and i got cursed


God the compassionate says

don’t undergo judgment

I want you to repent...


...God never lifted a finger

to help this repentant

stay repentant


of course the fault

was is will always be mine


with a compassionate god like God

who the hell

needs a sadistic bastard like Satan?



Robert Betts




Andrey Kneller
140 Carver Loop, 6F
Bronx NY 10475
(718) 671-6557
Andrey Kneller was born in Moscow, Russia. At the age of ten, his family moved to start a new life in America. Through his hard work and dedication, Andrey Kneller was quickly able to learn English and became fluent in both languages. In high school, Andrey emerged at the top of his class, maintaining a 97 grade point average throughout four years. He went on to win many awards including Business Education Award, presented by the Westchester Business Institute, a Xerox Award for Humanities/Social Sciences and a Br. Raymond Meagher Academic/Athletic Achievement Award. During the summer of 2000, Andrey was chosen by the Telluride Association as one of the 18 students who received a scholarship to attend a free poetry seminar at the Pennsylvania State University. Next September, Andrey will attend a four year university. He plans to major in computer science and his top school choices include Harvard College, University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University. 
Andrey first began to write poetry when he was thirteen years old and since then has written over 300 poems. Fluent in both, English and Russian, Andrey has also translated poetry by Aleksander Pushkin, Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Vysotsky and other Russian poets.



The fleeting time...
The fleeting time reflected in my eyes...
I broke the hourglass and as I gathered
the falling grains, I came to realize,--
time isn’t slipping from our grasp, but rather,
it’s building castles out of sand, along the sea,
where you and I can dwell eternally.




How insecure and how inviting...
"Lisa is afraid to love..."
                                A. Pushkin
How insecure and how inviting!
Just with the echo of her steps
She lures me straight into her webs,--
Within my heart, new life igniting.
Observing her is not enough,--
Her looks the fervent heart affect
Alas, the prophet was correct,--
The child is afraid to love...




A poet and a mockingbird
Gently brushing the barren white pages,
The poet reflects on the question of ages.
And gloomy and somber, -- a tired, caged finch, --
He presses his cheek to the cold window hinge.
A mockingbird quickly flirts her tail aloft.
Hoping, she perches,-- so swift and so soft.
And harking, he hears her "to-wee, tooo-wee"
Change to a distant "to be! – c’est la vie!"


Andrey Kneller
140 Carver Loop, 6F
Bronx NY 10475
(718) 671-6557




Today when I caught you two together
you were feeding each other baklava
at that new outdoor café downtown
(the one you said was "too showy")
and you were laughing.

I could barely watch
as he stared deep into you,
devouring triangle after
honeyed triangle
of your offering.

I could barely watch
as you licked the nutty sweetness from
his thumb and forefinger when just yesterday
you told me you hated the stuff,
just yesterday.

And even from the noisy distance
of the awkward street corner,
I could swear I heard the delicate
crunch of baked phyllo dough as
your perfect smiling teeth bit down.

Like the sound of the fragile skeleton
of some tiny animal being crushed
by a hungry predator, a brittle twig
being stepped on by something
heavy and careless.

The Minotaur Explains
(for P.W.)

And how would you feel?
Naked and hungry in the cold maze,
hooves and horns cracking
from malnutrition, lonely
in this big place
(for I was just a little thing when first exiled).

How would you feel?

And before they even cut that last corner,
they're shrieking,
their eyes already screaming open
to take in the certain monster town gossip
had warned about.

The very first one I approached differently though,
a frail upstart of a lad, strangely similar
to myself, forced into my space.
It was with him I learned it's impossible
to befriend one who already knows you
as enemy somehow.

And so many winters later, the horror is still vivid:
his club slapping away my outstretched hand,
his disgust cooling my smile.

It was with him it was decided:
live like a legend,
eat well.


Even then I could see danger through the mist condensing
on their hopeful skins, the vapor escaping easily
from the trusting surface of young warm flesh.

Like recently-hatched nestlings, their needy chirping,
their pleading for sustenance and protection
before the light gave out.

These were my brothers back then.
Before they became numbers.
Before the untenable chill set in.

Years ago I would prepare baths for them. 
Daily, they would gather toys, abandon their ragged
socks and underwear, readying themselves for a renewal.

I would look at them often: their bright faces glistening
like wet caramel, their hardy smiles somehow still intact,
surviving only through naiveté, the dirt to be washed

from their still soft bodies, choking their pores.
Even immersed, I swear
I could already see them drying out.

James R. Whitley
650 Huntington Avenue #3H
Boston, MA 02115


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