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 church my father played

jazzy and blues  melodies, piano-made;

audience-empty our suburban sitting room,

far from drink, dance and smoky fumes,

New Orleans, Beale Street honky-tonk bars,

absent growl of space-age, tail-finned cars.


Father rarely jammed with others,

he solo-jived, had no band of brothers;

tunes started off well, then stumbled:

over-complicated codas got a bit jumbled,

lacking drum discipline, tight snare beat,

absent also funky double-bass: incomplete.


A jazz pianist, poet or writer, in dreams:

boundaries were smashed to smithereens;

unwanted: his title of company director;

an alter-ego intellectual, emigre, a defector

from consensus and middle-class claims;

finally he fled our family, set bridges aflame.


Now aged ninety, we’re finally reconciled,

his sharp tongue recalled from when a child;

now this lip bitten, sometimes sardonically I grin

at foolish-fallible father – conflicted kith and kin;

upbeat Dixieland tunes I still fondly recall:

record stylus sometimes sticks, scratch stalled…


Piano blues track (with washboard percussion) recorded by my dad, circa 1944


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