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Improvijazzation Nation poetry - Issue # 75


An ANNOUNCEMENT about IMPROVIJAZZATION NATION!!! I've been tagged as a replacement for someone (over) in Iraq... I'll be leaving (sometime) in late December or early January!!!  For that reason - please SUSPEND ALL SUBMISSIONS to us... but, DO NOT "write us off"!!!  I'll be back sometime early summer 2006, & will notify all of you when we're able to take your submissions again!  Please SPREAD THE WORD to folks you know who send us review material, too... I will NOT BE REVIEWING material until after I get back in summer, 2006!!!!



Poets - SUBMIT your poems via e-mail (!!ONLY!!) to:



We were especially happy to receive the following 8 poems from our most poetic friend, Golda Solomon.  As you'll see, she "speaks from the soul" - THANKS, Golda!








Pantoum for a Saratoga Springs, NY Jazz Festival



Always steps ahead.  Dressed to kill.

Miles blows colored dissonance this festival day

Opaque balloon pants in billowy royal hues

Like pieces of eight woven with gold thread


Miles blows colored dissonance this festival day

Pirate ship stage, masts of electrical equipment

Like pieces of eight woven with gold thread

Sound buffeting sheer white sails


Pirate ship stage, masts of electrical equipment

Vast sea of audience held captive

Sound buffeting sheer white sails

We willingly walk the plank


Vast sea of audience held captive

His sword ready to smite us

We willingly walk the plank

Late afternoon shadows - brush strokes on this jazz galleon


His sword ready to smite us

Glints of mischievous sheen on his chocolate locks

Late afternoon shadows - brush strokes on this jazz galleon

He blows directly into the speakers


Glints of mischievous sheen on his chocolate locks

Strutting from one black monolith to the other

He blows directly into the speakers

McLaughlin's guitar shocks Miles


Strutting from one black monolith to the other

Mutiny thru an electrical storm

McLaughlin's guitar shocks Miles.

He stays with Miles, then leads Miles


Mutiny thru an electrical storm

The speakers cackle back obscenities

He stays with Miles, then leads Miles

El Capitan smiles broadly


The speakers cackle back obscenities

Sound waves on ionized dust particles

El Capitan smiles broadly

Keys and modes jump ship


Sound waves on ionized dust particles

Wet notes come spraying out at us

Keys and modes jump ship

Melodies disappear, crackle, curdle


Wet notes come spraying out at us

Captain Hook on trumpet navigates a new course

Melodies disappear, crackle, curdle

This is power forty fathoms deep


Captain Hook on trumpet navigates a new course

Opaque balloon pants in billowy royal hues

This is power forty fathoms deep

Always steps ahead.  Dressed to kill.



            Golda Solomon@2002 .


for harlem in the 1960’s




my day gig

my night hang


sunlight patterns the broad boulevard

at 117th st. a church going woman

blesses me


saxman setting up on his corner

beat up case with a faded lining

readied for nickels and dimes


his chops gone

his shoes shined

pomade slicked nappy grey afro


he nods

we speak without words

he knows i’ll stop and listen later


he’ll play on green dolphin street

without me asking

i’ll drop my loose change


a mangy dog sniffin

for a pork chop

in a bag at the curb


comes up with a discarded hi top sneaker


growls at the knotted laces


i pass

save your soul storefronts

damn your soul liquor stores


open   tremored hands

winos holding pint size brown bags

tastes of cheap booze


it’s never too early for a fix

ashy faces of dead presidents

framed on folded bills buy smack






exhaust fumes darken the air

uptown and downtown busses

tout life on elsewhere avenues


a lost yellow cab

stops at a light

engine revving and ready


i have my routine

a sense of place



i turn a corner

boarded up brownstones

etched brass doorknobs chained shut


a regal past for sale

the blues walks these streets

stalking the next generation


lunchtime i brown bag it

relax on a bench

periphery of mt. Morris park


listen to quiltings of conversations


resting knarled toes


fall and spring i walk

in winter hibernate

eat with teachers who care


any many who do not

i get to know

my territory


i minister to small groups

changing ye’th’s into yes

mowf into mouth


bending vowels, suggesting

alternatives of articulation

spoken currency below 110th st.






seasoned idioms

dance with

my brooklyn


the south

still at war

with the north


will i wait my turn at the

better pie crust company

take home a sweet potato pie


or buy

a bean pie from a suited x

hawking muhamed speaks


we’re all hungry

for truth

aren’t we


we see

too many truth sayers





street lights have a different glow

from dusk on

drop me off in harlem rhythm


the theresa’s past its hey day

fidel’s upraised fist



sro’s dot the landscape


houses of poverty


white rookies pullin’ the wrong precinct

trigger happy pimple faced cowboys

afraid of the dark


sequinned he/she ho’s

too much makeup

hope for a good night





musk of maryjane

perfumes garbage

in overfilled cans waiting to be picked up


i hail a black beauty taxi

traffic lights



reds and greens

like a flight path

lighting the runway to jazz joints


i land at wells

sounds   succulent

golden squares of waffle


siren’s song for syrup

regal crusted breasts

fried chicken


batallions of legs and thighs

night welcomes me back

to my adopted neighborhood


biting this juicy uptown apple

quenches my thirst

scotch turns milk creamy


my uprooted european roots


this hybrid soil


brown arms of jazz


my blues


dark jazz

wails through horns

primal notes


my lost childhood

can’t be found

like a misplaced library book






only i can

forgive my too early

loss of innocence


the bass

lays it all



hungry and thirsty

my freudian dwarfs

i am not snow white


any more

the piano man

plays my story


i’m a snapping


of desire


other’s expectations

once seemingly important

disappear as the tune ends




                        Golda Solomon@2005


NY Times January 16: Devanampattinum, a village



This is India’s ravaged southeastern coast

This Tamil speaking region far from Munbal

Shy smiles of an old woman

show betel – stained teeth

A barefoot little girl giggles, trails after him

He swoops her up – her first Prince Charming

A safe memory to build on

Young men’s calloused hands

Want to shake his outstretched pumice smoothed ones

No Hindi speaking Bollywood picture house

Movies rare here

Thatched huts – homes – lives – lost

Dead of summer

This peaceful fishing village of 3000

Disfigured landscape

Tsunami caught 71 fathers, sons,

Mothers, sisters, boys, girls in its net

This slow paced vacation retreat

Getaway from a pressured money making industry

This movie idol works among them

Walks the tattered route

More rupees needed

More than a genies three wishes can provide

Debris strewn dreams

Like their fishing nets need mending

Twelve fishermen

Set out in newly repaired boats

This same sea is now tranquil again

The day before Pongal

Harvest festival of southern India has begun



                                  Golda Solomon@2005


In Praise of a Young Black Woman From the Midwest



De Avery   De Catur

De midwest comes East

De law teaches – preaches

Columbia, gem of the Ocean

Sweet bites into this soured apple of a city

Genealogy of her family

Travels along for de ride

In Illinois, a black skein in white sheep’s territory

Here her ancestral hair in knitted knots

Knowledge dreds fly off in different directions

Familiar faces live in this metropolis of underground rails

She learns the rites of rights

De fender of the children

She knits and purls

Wool the color of blood

textured in slavery

She is her grandma’s child

Clacking away on crossed needles

Neat rows of advocacy

Stitched truths in a shawl for her mother

Patterns the tapestry of generations

Quiet revolutionary

This De Avery



                                 Golda Solomon@2005


First Mention: Isiah 34:14

His hands stuttered those first times he touched her

he and she made from the same dirt.  Explored

gently blew away dust

particles from innocent places

Coupling he moaned her name

Lilith my wife, Lilith my wife


and God looked down and was pleased


No vocabulary of discontent

Glances.  Shared shyness

Learning the Garden God had given them

His fingers combed her long shiny tresses

her majestic wings spread, holding him to her

She sang the beginnings of her voice

She wanting to mount him

he insisting she remain beneath


and God looked down and disapproved

     and God looked down and disapproved


She spoke strongly to him

They were of the same dust.  She was his

equal.  Beneath me always he said

their Garden soiled with harshness

where they once lay content

discord.  She flew away


and God looked down and was angry

     and God looked down and was angry


Pride.  Dry hacking rage.  She could not relent

She’d rather lay and procreate with Fallen Angels

kill her own newborns

She would forever be a She Demon

God issued her fate

her siren song

her forgotten name

never to be mentioned “In The Beginning …”


and God looked away from her

    and God looked away from her



                                 Golda Solomon@2004


Harlem (1965)

 West to East



 Bowlegged mothers, sisters, aunties

 Fallen arches, tired, blessed sleep

 Only to begin again and again

 Nurses and aids, scuffed white shoes

 Outline of bunions and corns

 Worn down heels, negotiating shifts

 Big sisters pulling little sisters by the hand

 Tugging at tight braids, pulling up socks

 Knees buffed shiny with Jergens

 Dispassionate parochial plaids of pleated skirts

 "Don't you make me late again for school"

 Brothers trying to keep up

 Clip-on ties, brigade of navy kites flying up Lenox Ave

 Against a sky of light blue shirts

 Oversized jackets and long pants

 Get two years of wear if you fold the cuffs under

 Bits of white fluff clinging to future afros

 Book bags slappin' street rhythms against gabardine

 Old men, stoop sitting bookends

 Milky grey rimmed eyes and alcoholic egos

 Early morning pints in communal brown bags

 A lost sister joining them, legs splayed

 "Hey, gimme a taste man"

 Scent of southern politeness

 Rancid garbage

 Underfed dogs poking into overturned cans

 Bunches of fresh mustard, turnip and

 Collard greens sold daily from the backs of

 Trucks and station wagons "Fresh fish here"

 "Those whitey owned markets show us no respect"

 Wilted heads of lettuce dreams, days old passing for produce


 Middle class high rise condos and coops

 Butting against projects and boarded up buildings

 Intricate brass doorknobs, remains of another era

 Harlem Hospital, Lenox Terrace

 History of a people on shelves at a collection called Schomberg

 Get clean or high at the "Y"

 Glassine packets of white powder

 Folded green backs slipped palm to palm

 Suited men hawking Muhammed Speaks and bean pies

 Belly's full of jazz, chicken and waffles from Wells

 Minton's open

 Showman's open

 Gold Brick open

 22 West where high collared preachers conversate

 about the 'man', sports, latest politician on the take

 "Hey girl, this slice of watermelon must be for one

 of those puny pale guys downtown"

 116th St. crosstown bus

 Changing voices of puberty ranting "the dozens"

 "Hey faggot" "Your mama didn't think so last night"

 Baptist Church mediates the 5th Avenue divide

 Museos Del Barrio, a storefront on Third

 Smells of La Marqueta

 Bodega beginnings

 Park Ave uptown is cheap chic

 Clothing hung from high racks

 Un-easy truce with the Po-leese

 Knight sticks dangling off blue uniformed hips

 Cars whizzing down the drive protected by an avenue named Pleasant

 Highways and projects named after dead white presidents and generals

 Patsy's on First, pizza and old world dining

 Kisses on both cheeks, jowls held by pinky ringed men

 No Blacks

 No Puerto Ricans

 No longer safe

 "Hey, ja hear, Frank was in the neighborhood"

 Sinatra sighting at the Ded-lightful Coffee Shop



            Golda Solomon@2003


Celebration of Sisters in Jazz


I saw Dottie Dodgion play drums

Diminutive   Blond haired     Big smile

Taking charge                       Taking charge

Legs splayed apart

A woman on men's turf

A woman on a man's instrument

Ladies don't sit that way

Drummers do.

I should have remembered every detail

Shards of memory    Reflections in my mind's mirror

The impact it would have on me

The catskills or the Halfnote

I saw her                     I saw her

I heard her                  I heard her

My beginnings of celebrating women in jazz

Women were teachers, not drummers

Women were nurses - not horn players

Women were mothers - no axes, just kitchen knives

Women were piano teachers

Like my Rose Ludivico

I walked up 2 steep flights

A brownstone in Little Italy

Red gravy smells hitting my nostrils, garlic and Bach

Fiercely independent at 10

Saddle shoes scuffing on concrete steps

My feminism began

My rounded fingers on 88 keys

Now I rattle off names

My sisters in the rhythms of my jazz life

Their names a mantra for young girls

A Who's Who of you can do it

Play their names as I salute them

Play their names                   Play their names


Cindy Blackman                    Virginia Mayhew                   Judi Silvano

Sylvia Cuenca                       Allison Miller                          Tessa Souter

Alberta Hunter                       Cobi Narita                            Carol Sudhalter        

Susie Ibarra                           Lisa Parrott                            Maxine Sullivan

Ingrid Jensen             Nikki Parrott                           Miriam Sullivan

Etta Jones                              Barbara Sfraga                   Kendra Shank

Sheila Jordan                        Abbey Lincoln


                           Golda Solomon@2001


Golda's In The House: A Baltimore Oriole tiptoed thru the tulips

The first time I heard Sheila Jordan's voice

Some gay club in the Village

or was Tuesday night gay night

Tiny Tim, his curls, his ukulele

Sheila easing her instrument

Up over and under and onto perfect notes


Gigs haven't changed much

It's still about dues paying and "the man"

Smoke-filled clubs

Vodka on the rocks

2 drops of vermouth only please

What's a nice girl like you doing in this neighborhood

Hey, if anyone gets in your cab

And wants to hear New York jazz,

Bring them here to the Bowery

Or to Hudson near Spring

The Half Note

Then to Wells Uptown

Fried chicken and waffles

Scotch with milk


Sure it's safe


That cavernous Village Gate

Monday was always Latin Nite

But it was the Five Spot

The Five Spot

My weeknite hang

My routine

An after work nap

Dressed and out by midnight

Ratners on 2nd Avenue at 4 a.m.

Work the next A.M. at 8

That last night on the Bowery

The move to St. Mark's Place

Bobby Timmons "dat dared" on the keyboard

Chessboard set up and ready Mal Waldron, checkmate

Musicians, Knights holding court at their round table

Narrow slice of light across the worn floor when

the bathroom door opened and closed

Listenin' to Sir Hanna rattle those ivory's with Bach riffs

The aroma of Chan's rice

Farewell cake for Eric Dolphy

"Later" inscribed in chocolate buttercream script

Mingus' bass plunking commands





Weekends were for tourists only then

Maybe I'd grab the end of the last set on a

lonely Friday or Saturday

I crocheted a floor length cobalt blue skirt

Listening to Chico Hamilton and Charles Lloyd

Those two notes from Forest Flower still echo

High and true

Cal Newborn's sweet guitar

Sundays walkin' around the Jazz Gallery with Roland

Before he was Rasaan

He knew my laugh

Golda's in the house

Who knew we were witness to a history

We were just out listenin'

Finger poppin' to the sounds we needed like a fix


The Poet Laureate Billy Collins remembers the taste

and price of beer at the Five Spot.

I remember Joe and Iggy Termini

The notes the cash register played

And that little dance Monk did.                                           

            Golda Solomon @ 2001




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