In his day-dreams, my father saw himself as a jazz pianist, poet or, possibly a writer. Life didn’t turn out quite like that… but I appreciate my many memories of his piano paying, and his quite extensive jazz LP collection.
After Sunday church my father played
piano blues, melodies self-made
in an audience-empty sitting room,
far from drink and smoke fume
of New Orleans honky-tonk bar,
parked outside fin-tailed cars.
Father rarely jammed with others,
solo-jived, no band of brothers;
tunes started off well, then stumbled:
complicated codas got jumbled,
lacking drum discipline, tight beat,
absent tuneful trio: incomplete.
Passionate pianist, poet in dreams
and smashed to smithereens
the unwanted title: company director;
an alter-ego emigre, consensus defector,
an imposter with spurious claims;
he fled family, setting bridges aflame.
His sharp tongue recalled by this child;
Ninety-year father, almost reconciled,
sometimes a sardonic grin;
fallible, orphaned from kith and kin;
Dixieland desires still fondly recalled
but arthritic hands mid-melody scratch-stalled…
Piano blues track (with washboard percussion) recorded by my dad, circa 1944