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Unexpected Presence On Christmas Eve

written by: Catherine Lee


How do you date the onset of union?
A first kiss wetting on West Paterson NJ
jazz bar stair? or before? —
the poetry foretold itself, somebody else’s poem.

Prior to that private reading we bought each other drinks
ambiguous, in the Christmas spirit
with just a hint of icebreaker.

Our eyes met before that, even
across the piano, six candle-lit, calico tablecloths,
and the shoulder of an unsuspecting 
Scotch-and-soda drinker.

Haven’t I seen you someplace before? Boston, perhaps?
Your gait was familiar
the tune — love for sale indeed —
but I could barely place the name
put finger on a place.

Funny you should ask
did I see 
        Lee Morgan’s piano player
        Max Roach’s, Freddy Hubbard’s,
        Dexter Gordon’s, Woody Shaw’s, Johnny Griffin’s 
but that night Bobby Hutcherson’s
piano player’s shortish, deft, delicate, and
elegantly sensual bi-toned hands.
That time I thought
I was sitting close enough.

But my dear good man
to date the onset of our union, to chart the conception —
when an initial date would be in fact reunion —
I regret
to admit
I don’t yet know you well enough.



Catherine Lee explores poetry as a percussive voice either as a soloist reading at poetry events or with jazz musicians when sitting in “on poem.” Her mentor, Beat poet/hipster tedjoans shared his “Jazz is my religion” griot philosophy; today Lee carries this legacy forward. From San Antonio TX and Asheville NC, Lee creates multimedia poetry archived at Soundcloud and VIMEO, and blogs about exceptional jazz poets at Facebook’s Jazz Ovation Inn. Lee’s writing appears in recent anthologies: Rapture; Beat-itude; Weary Blues; Poets Facing the Wall; Descansos.

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