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Dick Jones

Morgan, Mulligan and Me

‘My Funny Valentine’
Art Farmer – trumpet
Gerry Mulligan – baritone sax
Bill Crow – bass
Dave Bailey – drums

There was
it seemed
a chance
after all

a chance
that in spite
of the thick
cat curve of

Morgan’s midnight
hair; the
electric green
surveillance of

those Cleopatra
eyes; the
devastating scorn
of that

elevated lip,
she might
just notice me
for all my looks

laughable un-
photographable.
A neutral party
told me late

one Tuesday
after lunch
and with all of
break before us
(this for the price
of my last
French cigarette)
that you had

a thing
a real thing
a kink for a
saxophone.

Where all
the other girls
had things for
a kiss-curl fall

or a hand
drooped limp
at the wrist
or a hip-switch

twist away from
the microphone
you favoured
the blue smoke

of a saxophone.
So it was tongue
and breath against
bone and sinew

and I knew that
this I could
accommodate
and more.

So when some
other afternoon
(the golden hour
gone grey with rain)

I saw you curled
alone along the
studio window seat
watching the wind

in the trees
along the drive
I slipped
the disc from

its whisky
amber sleeve
laid it like
an offering to

the turntable
lifted on
the stylus and
sat down across

the room
head bowed
hands clasped
in shadow.

Mulligan and
Funny Valentine:
the lemon slice
of Farmer’s

trumpet lead;
the distant bumble
of the baritone
before it lifts

its fuzzy head
and whispers
its sweet and
cruel put-down

praises up until
the two slow
circling voices
wood and wire

ice and water
drop together
wound into
that comic valentine.

And she uncoiled
raising shoulders
lifting hips turning
last her head

until like a
sideways sphinx
she watched cat
still cat steady.

Then she said
Encore and coiled
again but now
away from light

and facing shade
my shade.
She smiled. And
I smiled too.

 

Dick Jones

In 2010 Dick received a Pushcart nomination for his poem Sea of Stars. His first collection, Ancient Lights, is published by Phoenicia Publishing (www.phoeniciapublishing.com/ancient-lights.html). His translation of Blaise Cendrars’ influential epic poem ‘La Prose du Transsiberien…’ was published an illustrated collaborative edition with artist Natalie D’Arbeloff by Old Stile Press (www.oldstilepress.com/osp_book/trans-siberian-prosody-and-little-jeanne-from-france/)in 2014.

 

Gerry Mulligan Quartet – My Funny Valentine