Assembled Book Poem* No. 4

*For these poems, I select books that I own, open them to random pages, and select random lines. After compiling these lines, I arrange them into poems.

Assembled Book Poem No. 4 [1]

the timing of his life directly parallels
the spaceship towers of shanghai
poets thought he had changed the weather
regard the set rather

the phenomena are evaluated as bizarre, grandiose delusions

don’t turn your head
it was just background, one of a million
whose audience is always primarily oneself
the start of what has become a lifetime

the fate of people
whose names I don’t recognize
moves through the world

what is left to us when we come down to that?

to be a model for the entire world
a downright unshakeable

“that’s a fine idea.”
that’s what she said–apropos of nothing
then I say good bye, and I hang up

if there was more, I needed to hear it
it was a dreadful, harrowing sound
the next few days I played sick
there is no screen between her and the questions of life and death

their homes gradually came to be built
and packed my bag slowly

[1] Encounter (Kundera), Where I’m Calling From (Carver), n+1 Winter 2013, Poetry November 2012, Both Flesh and Not (Foster-Wallace), The Shadow of the Wind (Zafón)

Dave Brubeck, Briefly

Ben Ratliff wrote a great obit for the NYTimes, and the mainstream media is covering his death as well; I’ll be brief.

I can’t remember when I first heard “Time Out” because it seems that its existence was always a given. My guess is that I was still in middle-school, which was early enough for me to be pretty much blown away.

Encounters with Brubeck’s music were relatively rare after that. He played at Oberlin when I was still in Cleveland, but I didn’t end up making the drive. My drum teacher had studied with Joe Morello–the drummer on “Time Out” and a significant figure in our universe–who we lost in 2011. I did have the really fun opportunity to play “Blue Rondo”, which apparently is a significant challenge on the piano.

By all accounts Brubeck was insanely active all the way until his death. I have read about the classical writing he did, but the most I heard was a jazz festival performance from 2010. I didn’t like the sax player he had been touring with, so I didn’t give it much of a chance. But I really did appreciate Brubeck’s paired-down style, even on tunes I pretty much hate listening to (like A-Train).

Certainly a figure to remember, and a truly great public face for improvised music. Below is a video of the “Blue Rondo” performance I did sometime around 2009. Aren’t we all so cute?

RIP, Dave.