February 2, 2016

Three Poems By Christopher Stolle: "Returning To Satchmo's Sanctuary", "Cycling Through-Midwest Poem Song", "next to of course john lennon judy garland i"

Christopher Stolle’s poetry has appeared in more than 100 magazines in several countries, including Labyrinth (Indiana University Honors Program), The Plaza (Japan), El-Shaddai (Singapore), Poetechniciens (England), Ultimate Ceasefire (Australia), and recently or forthcoming in the Burningword Literary Journal, the Tipton Poetry Journal, Flying Island, Writing Raw, Branches, and Snapdragon, and in three anthologies (In Our Own Words: A Generation Defining Itself [volumes 1 and 4; 1997 and 2002] and Reckless Writing [2012]). He has also published two nonfiction books with Coaches Choice: 101 Leadership Lessons From Baseball’s Greatest Managers (2013) and 101 Leadership Lessons From Basketball’s Greatest Coaches (2016). He works as a development editor for Penguin Random House, and he lives in Indianapolis.

A Blues Poem (With Apologies to Langston Hughes)

Vinyl-shaped rainbow mosaics cascade across Gennett’s arc
to honor legendary men and women who left a musical mark—
    notes that bleed onto an Indiana staff.
I felt Bix and Fats Waller and Jelly Roll watching me;
I admired their achievements, and I listened to their plea—
    and then I heard Pops laugh …
    and then I heard Pops laugh …
and his echo covered me with bewitched blues.

Duke Ellington rapped his fingers on ivory teeth;
Gene Autry and Big Bill Broonzy strummed a wooden leaf—
    and Hoagy whistled a tune for Bogey’s queen.
“Don’t let people forget us,” whispered Oliver the King;
and in that quiet, Blind Lemon Jefferson began to sing:
    “See that my grave is kept clean …”
    “See that my grave is kept clean …”
and his echo covered me with bothered blues.

Stars began to scatter, but Artie Shaw struck up his band;
Welk danced with bubbles, but Lombardo raised his hand
    to encourage cups of kindness and goodwill drink refrains.
Sidney Bechet blew his clarinet, and everyone stayed.
Hawkins again sat in with Henderson, and everyone swayed—
    and we poured our bewildered blues down cosmic drains.

To Jack Kerouac

I: Winter
darkness descending:
clouds don’t understand sunlight;
keep your freezer stocked.

II: Spring
budding flowers urge:
pushing leafy envelopes;
mail someone your love.

III: Baseball
freshly mown diamonds:
mechanics sculpted sharply;
fulcrums equal hits.

IV: Summer
heat cascades fiercely:
men revering bikinis;
watch but don’t disturb.

V: Autumn
crispness ascending:
clouds reproached about sunshine;
harvest that last glow.

next to of course john lennon judy garland i
(a tribute to e. e. cummings)

“next to of course john lennon judy garland i
love you land of the munchkins and we’re off to see
the wonderful wizard of lions and tigers and bears oh my
just follow the yellow brick road over the rainbow to flee
flying monkeys and wicked witches and critics with word coals
who ruined thy brittle brain, thy helpless heart, thy tender roar
and we need whimsical musicals to soothe our souls
our pain our fantasy our loss our more more more
but in your early and lonely demise, we’re all equally to blame
with our idolization for faces flashing on a flickering cloud
where some make power a thirst, but you turned despair into grace
and you only wanted love and someone to feel proud
that you fought against all odds to achieve an unforgiving fame.”

He spoke. And rapidly drank tears from his face.

~Christopher Stolle

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