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.
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.