Unexpected Presence On Christmas Eve, by Catherine Lee at Spillwords.com

Unexpected Presence On Christmas Eve

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’s percussive jazz voice and social change activism by reading solo and performing with improvising musicians “on poem.” Since 1976, Lee’s multifaceted writing has appeared in small press publications and anthologies, both in print and online. Lee collaborates with media artists to create crossover educational works that traverse thought boundaries. Her annotated jazz-related poetry was featured in the July 2020 "Music" Issue 5 of Northampton Poetry Review, pages 63-74. Multimedia poetry, documentary videos, and radio specials are archived on Soundcloud and VIMEO. She blogs about notable musical/poetic collaborations on Facebook/Jazz Ovation Inn, and markets writing/editing services on Cat at Jazz Ovation Inn.

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