Authors and Poets
Authors and Poets

Photos used with permission from the Academy of American Poets

Last updated:
September 5, 2018
Lori M. Cameron, editor

Jazz Portrait: Harlem, 1958 – Carol Hamilton

I wanted that poster! Marian McPartland
was radiant there, and her cigarette-voice
and English diction glowed in my car darkness
as I made Saturday night drives, my first brush
with jazz I liked. There they all were,
suited and lined up in grainy black and white,
all the jazz greats, word-of-mouth plan,
impromptu gathering no one believed in,
improvised like their lives. They are high
on my wall now after three years, two trips,
and many machinations to put it there.
They look organized, staring back at me,
open windows behind them, neighborhood boys
lined up on the curb, hands cupped
around cat calls at the photographer.
The whole venture bristles right off
the wall, my last purchase on my last
weekend in New Orleans on its last weekend
before the old life was swept away.
A trumpet sings out high over the Mississippi
while, as in life, nothing and everything is lost.

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