A jazz pianist, poet or writer, in dreams

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.

This my dad playing Jazz on an electric piano.

This my dad playing Jazz on an electric piano.


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

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