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 church my father played,
melancholic melodies piano-made,
audience-empty suburban sitting room,
far from drink, dance and smoky fume
of New Orleans honky-tonk bars:
hear V8 growl, see tail-finned cars.
Father rarely jammed with others,
lone-jived, no band of brothers;
tunes started off well, then stumbled:
over-complicated codas got jumbled,
lacking drum discipline, tight snare beat,
absent funky double-bass, incomplete.
A jazz pianist, poet or writer, in dreams:
boundaries smashed to smithereens;
unwanted the title, company director;
internal emigre, alter-ego defector
from consensus and conservative claims;
finally he fled family, set bridges aflame.
Now aged ninety, we’re reconciled,
sharp tongue recalled from when a child
– now lip bitten, sometimes silently grin
at fallible father – conflicted kith and kin;
upbeat dixieland tunes still fondly recalled
old stylus sometimes sticks, scratch stalled…
Piano blues track (with washboard percussion) recorded by my dad, circa 1944