Reading Poetry by Henry Dumas While Listening to Cool Jazz

Sounds, pure fire,
words lost in a blaze
of notes—rising,
falling, spreading out
like wings in a red sky.

Zigzagging, thrusts and retreat,
then mellow—circling like a cloud.

I hear your pure beauty:
horns, keyboard, strings,
drums—falling into a beat.
It is the magic of harmony
innovative, pure
—spring water from the mountain
—wind sifting through stone
—night after rain.

No thing can capture
that free-floating song.
Nothing compares with reading
poetry while that wild
untamed sound fills this

Peterson, Coltrane, Marsalis
jackknifing with controlled
rhythm. Play Ebony Play Ivory ,
“wait for the trees to fall,”
“wooden bones cracking against
the wind,”

“The cardinal has no red name
like fire or crown.”


Pinkie Gordon Lane
from her book Girl at the Window
LSU Press, 1991

used by permission of LSU Press

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