June Jazz: Improv

Daily Disney - Balloon, Anyone? (Explored)

Light pours through the west end and floods the wooden floors of our home. James is in the front room, dancing. His clunky, horse-like heels stomp to a syncopated rhythm, following the dizzy-eyed direction of his four-year-old vision, rather than my music. His wobbly, outstretched arms crash up and down like cymbals, and his fingers chase after the bouncy melody playing over his head.

It’s improvisation with a white balloon. And his eyes, to me, look just like Louis Armstrong’s happy ones.

Jazz is hard to define, easy to feel. Its stimulating improvisation sways over our heads and wiggles into our hearts. It’s the jazz artist who knows how to play — and how to stay like a child.

Because May Play was such a romping good time at Tweetspeak last month, we want to continue playing all the way through June. So put on your old zoot suit, grab your swing dance muse, and toss out some big band grooves. We’re going to add a little jazz and chase some white balloons.

Don’t think too much. Feel it. Follow it. See where it goes.

Here’s how June Jazz works …

If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing to Every Day Poems.

1. On Mondays, the Every Day Poem in your inbox becomes a chord progression. Find your own tone. Build an idea around a single poem line. Just let yourself go and write a found poem, baby.

2. Tweet your poems to us. Add a #junejazz hashtag so we can find it and maybe share it with the world.

3. Or leave your found poem here in the comment box.

We’ll read your tweets and share some of your weekly play each week. At the end of the month, we’ll choose a winning poem and ask the playful poet to record his or her poem to be featured in one of our upcoming Weekly Top 10 Poetic Picks.

Here’s today’s Every Day Poem. Now go jazz it up.

Photo by Express Monorail. Creative Commons, via Flickr. Post by Matthew Kreider.


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In May we’re exploring the theme Trees.

Red #9


  1. says

    Monica – It’s pretty great news! Just goes to show you — one never knows what surprises will show up at Tweetspeak! :)

    Speaking of “cheery”, Monica, I must tell you: I love to hear your voice around here. You always get me smiling. :)

    By the way, don’t you just love the pic of the balloons?

  2. says

    Giving a Fig

    Wake up, Eve,
    it’s the day to name the trees.
    Let’s start with sycamore.

    Why, Adam, why call
    it sycamore? Looks like the tree
    of life to me.

    No, that’s a silly name for a tree.
    Look how tall it is? It wants
    a majestic name.

    But look at the fruit,
    those luscious figs, they promise
    life we’ve never known.

    Eve, you never see the beauty,
    those heart-shaped leaves,
    the variations of green. . .

    Adam, you don’t have a practical bone
    in your body. Always mooning
    over shapes and designs. . .

    Well, it’s my responsibility
    and I’m calling it
    a sycamore.

    Let’s not argue.
    Here, I’ve pealed a fig.
    Let’s eat its fruit.

  3. says

    She pulled through
    Like a small boat
    Refusing to lose
    Refusing to capsize
    Refusing to be small at all

    She pulled through
    Like a small boat
    As the big boats thrashed
    Against the waves
    Leaving this world
    All twisted and sinking,
    Wishing for
    A heart like that

    She pulled through
    Like a small boat

  4. says

    The trees of October,
    are all nearly over
    the fire sparks,
    falls out
    in gold-orange-red.
    Yet standing audacious,
    its flamboyance outrageous
    it defies the onset
    of the blue, black, and gray.

  5. says

    A mother, silent
    and her baby, sick
    knew it was the wrong
    time for crying. Though
    her sadness was bigger
    than the soldiers, they
    were the ones with guns.
    A baby was one life, but
    others were in the bus hidden
    in the muck. What she did
    saved the others but required
    a shovel to bury the sacrifice.

  6. says

    okay so doing EDpoems and Julia Cameron a the same time drags me a little bit (HA!) beyond the spaces I want to dwell… so I practice just visiting, not dwelling there. And I practice allowing, not forbidding. And yesterday’s poem took my breath away and that child… that child… i woke up today with that child still in my mind… and so i wrote a poem for her “as close as a promise” http://unmixingcolors.typepad.com/along_the_way/2012/06/as-close-as-a-promise.html

  7. says


    Mother will vanish like sleet,
    Cool, prickly sensations
    on the tongue you cannot taste.

    Memory will linger after
    her body has drifted down
    the hall and out the door.

    Impossible to recover
    the sense of embrace,
    the cord of birth’s binding.

    Receding into the sepia
    within an ornate frame
    dimensions collapse.

    You will become an orphan
    that a quarter of a century
    cannot place in a foster home.

  8. says

    Already it’s October
    and cold, the house sick

    with our outraged hoping,
    and silent in a clot of snow.

    We’re all maneuvering
    the sadness of brief summer

    passion, the wrong thing
    we made of ourselves;

    the baby, the goodness after.
    We, all of us, falter

    and yet, of the earth,
    pull through. Years vanish

    in the slow grim gray of time.

  9. says

    Love the idea of June Jazz— glad you’re keeping it going!

    The days are breath
    freezing in mid-air,
    petrified, succumbing

    to the cold. We did not
    see her coming; pain slowly
    filling our house. Tears

    drip like sleet, slapping
    ground, filling our brief
    years with liquid hope.

  10. says

    When Wars Begin

    Outraged in the snow
    at the sheer audacity
    of the attack,
    his anger burned
    through his mittens.
    The snow ball
    in his hand
    to an icy

    that created
    turned to hands
    of aggression.

    Kicking snow,
    a restless yearling,
    he hurled his charge
    at Mason’s innocent cat,
    tears of frustration freezing
    on cheeks softened by the touch
    of compassion and constancy of care.

  11. Liz says

    a poem-a small one

    Worms spill out onto the smoldering sidewalk

    Trees bow down to listen

    and even the dig sound of a shovel

    is keeping the beat with the sound of jazz

    from a decades old radio.

  12. says

    Liz – I just retweeted your poem and added the #junejazz hashtag because I didn’t want it to get lost in Twitter-space. But then I saw you had just posted it here also! :)

  13. says

    The shovel is my brother,
    a good companion
    as we play together
    in the dirt…

    and I am bigger
    for hoping—
    as I dig,
    as I turn soil
    upside down,
    and a few worms, too.

    I imagine
    the tiny roots
    climbing low, low, low,
    while tiny shoots
    climb high.

    Sunday’s sunny.
    Thursday’s rainy.

    And, in spite of the July fourth
    all red rumbling, blue bruising winds, and hailstone white,
    the beauty
    pulls through,
    with small burst of bright passion.

    At first,
    silent and small
    as a hummingbird hovering,
    the shoots poke up their green heads,
    then, choose to linger a while.

    My garden,
    solid goodness,
    feeds me in hope,
    as pure as snow.

    Lane Arnold
    © June 7, 2012


  14. says


    A worm from a clot of dirt
    is relentless, even dogged,
    in pursuit of elemental living

    the champion of all things
    organic, he tills his own soil,
    aerates and fertilizes

    gives back as much as he takes,
    composting as he goes. Work
    has its own reward, survival.

    His inner drummer sounds
    a constant beat, and his life
    does its own dirt dance.

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