by Colin Shaddick


(With found quotes by Mr. Monk)



Between fast clouds:

a half moon …

a blue moon.

In my head

I was writing chorus 243 for ‘Mexico City Blues’,

by Jack Kerouac.

It was hard to get right.

It ended up like this:

‘You did not stop the murder

or the suicide,

even though the first sound

in your mind

was your mother’s heartbeat …

and not the bomb.’

I hit upon a piece of card in the gutter:

whitish, worn and wet.

Someone had scribbled down a few words on it –

hard to decipher at first.

A whacked-out suite of light indigo marks.

Lines bled over lines.


Incomplete sentences.

I could just make-out a configuration.

I could read … ‘Mr. Monk’s quotations.’

The penetrating sounds of sirens in the fast drying night

made me think of a Mingus solo; blowing,

flowing, over and through the low-moan,

go home drone of the late-date cabs.

"I don’t know

where it’s going.

Maybe it’s going …

to hell."


The soul from Rocky Mount.

Big-eyed and introspective …

A quiet man of jazz from West 63rd Street.

"The high priest of bebop,"

living simple and cramped in a poky apartment,

with one aspiration …


"To play better."

With those far-out chords

he finally breached the barriers …

Unfastened the doors of perception

at the Five Spot.

Turned the world slowly on …

with that magical bad-ass dissonance.

"You can’t make

anything go


It just happens."

Picturing him there … at the piano,

hunched-over and purring some parallel tune.

De-lib-er-ate and heron-fingered

he’d jab at those thin breaks between the keys.

And they sure weren’t no clams!

Empty spaces …?

He used them like mortar

to hold together a complex wall.

"I say,

play your own way …"

More than a dreamer lost in his own dreamtime …

A piano prophet in discourse with visions.

Talked with Mr. Imagination.

Like Blake:

discovered the divine presence within himself.

Secured his source of freedom:

in those crazy, up-tempo, finger-zinging

spheres of burning grooves.

"I love music

and I’m mentally


all the time."

That’s where the jazz was.

Veiled …

In the connections

between the cracked and the …


He could see them, as bright as any road-sign

advertising Burma-Shave.

"I just play

what comes

into my mind."

He was a true poet.

Floated free.

Engrossed in music …

Down by law.

Searched for that ul-tim-ate resonance.

Created music,

not hog-tied to any cornball style.


"I just like

the piano …

always did."

Spiky rhythms …

A heavy roll.

It’s quick and sure.

The sound strikes …


Keeps us …

from interfacing easy with our …


Like being …







© Colin Shaddick. England. 2006



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