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Language Requirement

In college, he elected jazz
as a language,
dropped French so he could learn
that chops meant
playing the sax like Paul Desmond,
creating a sound
resembling a golden hue
that only the angels
might duplicate,
carried so high
it might be heaven,
though he could sense
Desmond's fingers
moving with elegance,
ballroom dancing on the keys.
He later learned
that Desmond played
in various modes.
They were not clubs
or bars he could frequent,
though the modes
were most often located in bars.
He found out
that Mel Torme had pipes,
beyond a collection of meerschaum,
an ability to sing songs
and scat like no one heard before
without ever leaving the stage.
Could say he also had chops,
but with singers it was different
because with one set of pipes
he created a timbre all by himself,
a degree of contrast as varied
as timber in the forest.

Angler's Nightmare

He thinks the fish
he landed,
the huge stripe bass' eye
sees a monster's face,
a demon with soft hands of fire
that boils its slick body
in the acid of air
with a tease
from the hook's barb
that now knits
the gasping jaw closed.
He imagines himself
such beautiful meat
with a cruel demise,
no longer privy
to the love and seclusion
of the black emptiness
from which he was snatched.
He places the rod
upon the sand
and enters the ocean
until he can taste the salt
then asks the tide
to mend all wounds
on the motionless flesh
in his extinguished hands,
that it might again
have life
and return to the bounty
of the cold world
in the dark coral depths
where this bass
might then dream of him
in the bottomless sea,
of his hands
and his sorrowful blue eyes.

Husbands and Wives

She was bothered when she found out
many years later
that he wrote this poem
instead of writing to her,
that when he woke up
well after midnight and had an urge
to convey his thoughts
they centered upon
the articulation of the rain
against the window pane
and the droopy goldfish
aroused from slumber
when all the lights went on.
She wanted to destroy this page
but always knew it was just
a matter of time before he wandered,
enraptured by the raspy cricket call
against the tree frog ostinato,
a summer serenade that inspired him
like she was once able to do.
He could sit and focus upon
the most menial events
then bring them to life,
like his discussion of the telephone,
so committed to its chime,
unable to function without the constant ring
which complimented and so defined it.
Was it a happy marriage or one of necessity?
Surely the bell and receiver must be close,
conjoined after all this time
or can strangers exist in tight quarters,
like her and her man,
familiar and unfamiliar to each other
all in the same day,
he at his desk, scrutinizing dial tones,
she on the bed, propped up on pillows
reading this.


Copyright © 2009 Michael Keshigian

Michael Keshigian

MICHAEL KESHIGIAN is the author of five poetry chapbooks. His sixth collection Jazz Face , was recently released by Big Table Publishing Co.  His poetry has appeared in numerous national and international journals as well as many online publications, including California QuarterlyBarbaric YawpTipton Poetry JournalJerry Jazz MusicianSierra Nevada College Review, and Ibbetson Street Press. He has been a feature writer for The AuroreanPoetree Magazine,Chantarelle’s Notebook, Bellowing Ark, Pegasus Review, The Illogical Muse, interviewed by Boston Literary Magazine and Reader’s Choice in the Fairfield Review. He is a multiple Pushcart Prize and Best Of The Net nominee.

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