this mirror recalls how once you shaved

jazz music was the audio lodestone of my childhood home, in particular while my father was having his morning shave. i try to capture the feel for that fondly recalled music in this poem.


this mirror recalls how once you shaved,
i imitate with old brush and blade,
my thoughts sometimes woven through
with your jiving jazz band piano blues.

exuberant trumpets, joy-blown, sassily,
brushed drums syncopated lazily, classily,
big upright bass plucked in laid-back time,
melodies embroidered by scat and rhymes.

your private piano-blues, recorded on wax,
pin-punctured paper-cone replayed scratch
and hiss, your sons experimenting with 78s;
imitation negro-holler, hobo-unridden freight.

your be-bop dreams never quite fulfilled,
name not printed on Newport Festival bills,
you never entered the Swingalong charts
but you’re number one in this son’s heart.


The Newport Jazz Festival is an important music festival, held every summer in Newport, Rhode Island.
Swingalong – a daily afternoon jazz and swing show on BBC Light service in the 1960’s

backstory: my dad privately recorded his own 78 blues tune on piano, accompanied by his friend on wash-board rhythm. it was a wax recording on a base of a brass disc.
my middle brother, the great experimenter, decided that we would listen to it in a novel way. we put it on the turn table, and spun it by hand. we then placed a pin stuck through a paper cone on to the spinning disc. it worked!

photo: Dora Kazmierak


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