an argument between drums and horns

        down at the jazz factory
landlord keeps the beat 
this is landlord’s parade
        and this is how he plays it
his sticks are tight, the music tight 
        this night feels
			all right
landlord hits the cymbals 
                and it starts to rain
                just a little sprinkle 
and the horns walk in, start jumping
		into puddles
trombone is the backbone, the big brother
trumpet is the poet of the family
		he pours the coffee
        da dee-deet
and the girl 
        with the whiskey fist
and the rose on her lips
                blows him a kiss	
so he talks to her
da dee-deet
time gets loose and thin
but landlord snares it in
			so tight
shh-tat-ta-tat-tat-splash, shh-tat-ta-tat-tat-splash
landlord punched the clock
        and we start to rock
        da dee-deet
landlord is pounding
                horns are laughing 
pounding and laughing
and pounding
        all of a sudden 
                                the music stops
all is



holding your breath 
before a storm 
and landlord says
			“time to pay the rent!”
boom-boom-splash-boom!, bah-boom-bah-boom! bah-boom! ric-a-tic-a- splash!
boom-boom-boom! thump-a-thump-a-tic-a-tic-a boom-bash-boom-splash! 
boom-splash! boom-splash! rat-a-tat-tat-tat-boom, bah-boom! bah-boom-boom-
        splash! splash! splash!
and then the trombone blows up, and the trumpet blows up, and the room blows up 
and the moon blows up, one whole city block blows up, and all of harlem
all the whiskey fists and red rose lips screaming “drums have won! horns have won!
							all is one!”
just the way i like it

posted for Shay's Word List #7
posted for dverse oln #307
posted for poets and storytellers united

44 thoughts on “an argument between drums and horns”

  1. This is so outstanding, and you know it. Music poems—the ones that really get at the essence of the way rhythm and sound make us feel—are some of my ultimate faves.You are the new Brian (the poet who started dverse). Your style favors his, in its own unique way. Definitely link this at the next dverse open-link night. They will eat this up.“shh-tat-ta-tat-tat-splash” … What a gift to be able to do this—capture sound so accurately.more of my favorites:“trumpet is the poet of the family he pours the coffee”“and the girl with the whiskey fist”“landlord punched the clock and we start to rock” … I can totally picture this scene unfolding, and really, it’s just brilliant poetry. I’m so happy for you; you must feel fulfilled, being responsible for this masterpiece. And exhausted, I’d imagine. 🙂


  2. All they need is Alexander's Ragtime Band, Dixieland, Dixieland. Have you seen the movie “Whiplash”? Your drums vs. horns makes me think of it, Your ending is spooky, like a single ding of a triangle in the smoky empty street. So glad you wanted to be part of this week's word list!


  3. I was emerged in that from the get go shh-tat-ta-tat-tat-splash.Very original. Supremely enjoyable. Full on cascading ride through the music. Love the way you’ve staggered it on the page as you went. Some killer lines too – (like whiskey fist, and..) “time to pay the rent!” boom-boom-splash-boom!, bah-boom-bah-boom! bah-boom! ric-a-tic-a- splash!


  4. Amazing the way you've made virtual music here–all the sounds are perfect, expressive, and dramatic, all while full of sly humor, the kind that comes from fighting for your life and trying not to show it, which to me is the skeleton of jazz, and indeed of the force that moved in Hughes' poems–taking things from the streets to the page(or the tune), from the gut to the cerebral, but never losing either. Love it all–the explosion, and the girl, and blue heat.


  5. As a former member of a marching band, that on occasion would break out with a few dance steps depending on the song, I absolutely love the rhythm, the sounds, the movement, the magic. (you forgot the flute.)


  6. Always love the sound and beat of your poetry. It's amazing and it takes you on a mind-trip when reading each word. The way you format it too is so important for that effect, makes you feel that rhythm to the music that flows. I swooned over these lines for their figurative and literal imagery:” with the whiskey fistand the rose on her lips blows him a kiss”It's so alluring and daring in a way, just love it. Beautifully written!


  7. I would have never thought of it this way, but I can see how drums suit the landlord, or anyone with an interest in keeping institutions solid. But between those beats so much life happens.


  8. A stunning poem, Phillip. I love all the sounds, I wish I could hear them for real. And then the moon blows up, Harlem blows up, everything blows up! A fitting end to such a fine poem ☀️


  9. i know right, the notion him me just the other day. i used to play in jazz groups and punk bands, and percussion really is what creates the space all the other instruments fill, so the ideas feels rather natural. so glad you liked this


  10. “Time to pay the rent” – love that lineEach of us will hear a different song, see a different battle of the band. That's what makes this interesting (I picture a Fantasia kind of thing going on but it may be the fever)


  11. This is wonderful, Phillip. I could heard the life-music in my head as I read the words. And by the time I got to the end, I found myself thinking about the current state of housing in NYC–the issues the city, landlords, and tenants have been having because of the pandemic. I wonder, if the final song will be something to be liked.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s