He started on the violin,
scraping the strings into surprising
sweetness, but you can’t get a girl
with a lump of wood under your chin.
He bought a saxophone,
Jazz, Be-Bop, Swing, Big Band.
He played with them all -
Goodman, Parker, Beatles.
Seventy years of making music.
His children forget these names.
They remember only his sayings.
The persistent piano chord
thumped out under any tune at all.
“When you get a good chord, stick to it.”
His faultless version of
“Suzanna’s a funniful man.”
And always, always the search
for his electric tango boots.
In the picture, Bill
is the man seated on the left with his head tilted back. Among the
musicians he is drinking with are Benny Goodman and Charlie
If you have any comments on this poem, Diane Jackman
would be pleased to hear from you.