Friday, November 21, 2008

A Slow Vermilion Dawn

The other night, I was at a gallery at what once was CBGB, looking at photos of Miles Davis and talking to someone erudite about Kenneth Rexroth, often credited as the first poet to combine poetry with jazz.

Rexroth's poems, not surprisingly, always have a rhythm, like this one's slow, dazed walk in the rain:
I pass your home in a slow vermilion dawn,
The blinds are drawn, and the windows are open.
The soft breeze from the lake
Is like your breath upon my cheek.
All day long I walk in the intermittent rainfall.
I pick a vermilion tulip in the deserted park,
Bright raindrops cling to its petals.
At five o'clock it is a lonely color in the city.
I pass your home in a rainy evening,
I can see you faintly, moving between lighted walls.
Late at night I sit before a white sheet of paper,
Until a fallen vermilion petal quivers before me.
The Black Hawk in San Francisco, shown in the photo below, was the site of some of Rexroth's first jazz poetry experiments in the late 1950s.

(Photograph by Leigh Wiener, from the Morrison Hotel Gallery.)

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