A jazz pianist, poet or writer

In his 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 church my father played,

melancholic melodies piano-made,

audience-empty our suburban sitting room,

far from drink, dance and tobacco fume

across ocean, *Big Easy honky-tonk bars,

far from V8 growl, smiling tail-finned cars.


Father rarely jammed with any others,

lone jived, not with band of brothers,

his tunes started off well, then stumbled:

over-complicated codas got bit jumbled,

lacking drum discipline, tight snare beat,

absent funky double-bass, trio incomplete.


A jazz pianist, poet or writer, in dreams,

restrictions smashed to smithereens;

unwanted business title: company director,

in mind internal emigre, defector

from consensus and conservative claims;

he finally fled family, set bridges aflame.


Now aged ninety, we’re reconciled,

sharp tongue recalled from when a child

– now I bite my lip, sometimes I grin

at fallible father – conflicted my kith and kin;

upbeat dixieland tunes still fondly recalled

until old LP stylus sticks, scratch stalled…


  • The Big Easy is a nickname for the American city of New Orleans, Louisiana.

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