June Jazz: Stimulation

We buy a couple of corn dogs and head over to the free stage. My eyes wander off and I see a teenage girl standing on the back of a motorized wheelchair, lurching left and right, while her driver zig-zags across Main Street like a Hollywood stunt driver. I’m thankful city planners have shut down the streets to car traffic. Not just for the jazz festival.

But so people can move, for four days, any way they choose.

In the limestone shadows, there’s room for Ray-Bans and navy polos to sashay and stay cool. Or go melt in the civic plaza heat, where the black clip-ons swing down over her bifocals to get a look-see of that man’s oversized short sleeves, how they shuffle below his elbows. And cornrows appear. Tight red denim. Even scraps of leather. Straw blues hats. Neon t-shirts. Black ties and Fedora hats. Lots of kids, too, with blinking plastic bracelets.

And that’s just the visual stimulation.

I’m bewitched by jazz, by its auditory command. Like dropping an egg in a frying pan. It sizzles, spits, and I have to pay attention. If Coltrane likes it over easy, then I had better keep my eyes on the yolk. When I’m driving, I often find myself hitting the pause button to discern if it’s safe to make a left turn, especially when Art Blakey sits under the hood, cracking his eggs on my engine block. Because good jazz blows a brass whistle and wants to redirect my traffic.

Poetry cooks like that, too, giving me permission to shut down a street, eat a corn dog, and just pay attention.

Let’s Play June Jazz!

All month long we’re swinging with poetry at Tweetspeak. We call it June Jazz. We write found poems and share them on Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, though we always link back to here. Last week we wrote to the tune of “American Beech Trees” by Patricia Cook.

Maureen Doallas gave those words a good shaking.

In winter’s twilight
spring-lit forsythia march,
shining like lanterns.

March in cold season:
forest stripped, trees’ trunks black,
snow almost festive.

Ice-cold New York night
slowly secrets winter’s trees
in snow like paper.

The Path of Treasure saw the lanterns differently. She wrote,


They do not sleep;
they hide silvery secrets
under thick, worn skin

A whisper emerges
from shadows, Americans
standing in rows of granite–

their quivering souls, still;
the spirit of the outstretched
hand shakes in all seasons…

I feel the grip of hope and place
my hand to my heart , salute
the courageous, the lanterns

on the way. They do not sleep,
these everleaves, these heroes
stark and tall, like the tree.

And John added his own punctuation and jazz. He wrote,


Men, women, and girl singers –
of the three kinds of humans
you were the last. You loved jazz
and the smoky little rooms
where the tunes got played. They
took note of your crusade, your
scat without scatting, your
vibrato-less gee-whizzy Fifties cool,
plus this pluperfect female shape
even George Shearing could see.
But they kept listening because
of your uninhibited phrasing,
your mad human offerings
of punctuation: semicolons where
men could breathe, commas to
put women at ease, parentheses
that gave girl singers courage.

That you always sang haunted
was widely-felt, but the ghosts were
only known by a few. Born to
be blue was always more than
a song. Then rock-n-roll invaded
our land and the loud was too
much, so you made yourself silent,
an esoteric casualty of war.
There will never be another you
is always more than a song.

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 Claire Burge. Used with permission. 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

    I concur with Maureen: a smokin’ post.

    And, I also feel the same: thank you for including me among such fine company! It was a pleasant surprise to see my poem here this morning.

  2. says


    My aunt’s old pigeon-toed
    janitor was in the house,

    thought no one but the fake
    Hummels in pretty pinafores

    was watching. I was. I was
    in the forbidden room when

    the janitor, rosy-faced, arranged
    in a long row in the black velvet

    blanket the little brass kittens,
    their bulging bellies shiny in gold

    overalls. I myself was reaching high
    in the cabinet when the janitor

    gave the kiss and after I saw stars,
    these brilliant stars in the glass.

    Nothing, I thought, would get
    broken. I was so wrong.

  3. says


    When her brush stroked
    those fat cheeks, chubby hands,
    she could not know
    that Goebel would give
    her iconic images form.

    How would a novitiate
    know that her concepts
    would draw Nazi wrath
    or carry global hope?

    The coin tossed in the air,
    lingers in liminal space
    before its called, destiny
    distended above the heads
    and tails of probability.

    The Merry Wanderer grips
    his satchel and walks on.

  4. says

    Is there an archive that has the images of all of the trees used for June? So sure I saw one but now I can’t find it and have been looking all morning. I have my heart set on finding the one tree that inspired a poem… will know it when I see it again and if there is a link with an archive I’d be so appreciative if someone would post it! :O)
    And as for June Jazz… who knew I had any Jazziness left in me? It’s been so much fun!

  5. says

    Grabbing those Golden Stars

    Reaching in was always the problem.
    Courage rested between beak
    and slender arm. That hen never
    wanted me to take what was hers,
    and she’d defend the laying box
    she believed to protect fantasy
    chicks she saw in her beady eyes.

    But I was an enthusiastic adversary
    knowing new shoes for school
    depended on the eggs my mother
    sold in town. Reaching in hands
    learn survival and acquisition
    on the way to caregiving,
    and the displacement of bias.

  6. says


    Glass cabinets hide their treasures
    behind transparency, deceptive
    they are like Poe’s letter,
    concealed by presence
    rather than absence.

    They deny the reality of dust
    motes in the gaze
    of a hundred eyes peering
    through refractions
    that presume imagination.

    The minds behind the eyes
    draw the stories they choose
    from the images they think
    they see, figments of a world
    remote, yet intimate.

  7. Grace Marcella Brodhurst-Davis says


    It was forbidden to touch
    the old upright piano, after
    Pauline tickled it unwillingly

    She, a pigeon-toed,
    rosy-faced Hummel
    in my aunt’s pretty house
    -the gold star

    Me, all wrong,
    under pinafore and overalls,
    tilting with musical whims
    arranged just so…

    When I thought no one was watching
    I was brilliant: easing
    in on my concert piece,

    right before auntie shut
    the hinged lid on my hands

  8. says


    Brass latches close.
    Forbidden they say
    in the finality

    of their clasp. The secrets
    inside pass beyond
    the present

    to the dust-laden future.
    Prying fingers
    will decode

    the language of privacy
    assigning errant

  9. says

    Curious Star

    She reaches in, softly kisses
    forbidden porcelain faces,
    smooth and round with slightly

    blushing cheeks. She remembers
    leaping in mud puddles, stepping
    on cracks in sidewalks, and no

    one’s back got broken. Don’t
    you know she was drawn to locked
    doors, shiny brass latches, and

    tempted by signs that said “do not
    enter”? Now she is tormented by
    years of silent hands in empty

    pockets, fiddling with stray pieces
    of forgotten lint. She hangs gold
    stars on days her eyes steal a fancy

    or bigger slice of desire. She vows
    to die with a calendar of gold, not
    blank spaces devoid of curious mind.

  10. says


    Locker rooms reek of sneakers
    and sweat socks, but
    band rooms have their scent
    as well. Brass and spit,
    plush cases marked
    with cork grease or valve oil,
    dry cleaned uniforms
    never quite as sanitized
    as they pretend.

    The sniff in the nostrils
    is like a reed on the tongue
    of New Orleans jazz,
    the touch of mouth piece
    and lips, nubs of the ball
    on the dribblers digits,
    the liturgist’s sacrament.

  11. says


    The magnetic pull that causes
    us to reach out to touch
    is the closest we come
    to understanding creation.

    Touch starts deep
    below the cerebral cortex
    and works its way
    through the coils

    of consciousness
    until it erupts
    in muscular response.
    Our hands know.


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