Jazz Is – a poem by Janet Krauss

Jazz Is
For my brother Nat, 1925-2017

“Jazz is…” I heard your recorded voice
on the airwaves last night.
In a short, deep breath I caught
it steady and smooth as a gull passing
by my window, or a slow wave
coming in to shore. I heard it rising
like a mast after I told you good news.
I heard it bracing as the winter air
when long ago you looked up
and explained, “The bare tree is not ugly.
Its limbs dance with the wind,
stand strong alone against the sky.”

I heard your voice stretch out
like Tibetan prayer flags hung
high across a rooftop, their colors
holding fast when you said,
“I love you very much,”
the last time we were together
before you could no longer speak.


Janet Krauss, who has two books of poetry published, “Borrowed Scenery,” Yuganta Press, and “Through the Trees of Autumn,” Spartina Press, has recently retired from teaching English at Fairfield University. Her mission is to help and guide Bridgeport’s  young children through her teaching creative writing, leading book clubs and reading to and engaging a kindergarten class. As a poet, she co-directs the poetry program of the Black Rock Art Guild.

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