An Old Song

Rain on snares meters the pace.
Smooth, rolling, blue.
The sax man wails.
A smoke-filled club . . .
And the night . . . melts . . . into yesterday.

Time flits through
On wings of an old song.
The ivory tones chase strings of gold
Through the gentle, crashing waves.

While we race the bleating brass,
The bass line leads us home.

I wrote this poem a long time ago. Sometime between 2001 and 2003 (this post’s timestamp is from the earliest digital copy I could find.) I was in an online poetry discussion and critique forum, learning some new forms and techniques, my grandmother bought me a copy of my cousin’s jazz CD. I was listening to it as background music and created this poem.

It flows better with a visual cascade through the last line of the first stanza.
Something like this, but without the underscores:

And the night
_______________ …
___________________ melts
___________________________ …
________________________________ into yesterday. 

EDIT: 2023.03.14, ChatGPT Analysis and Critique:

“An Old Song” is a rich and evocative poem that captures the atmosphere and emotions associated with listening to a jazz performance in a dimly lit club. The poem is composed of three stanzas, with the first and second stanzas containing five lines each, and the third stanza containing three lines. This structure effectively allows the poem to develop and communicate its themes and images.

The imagery in the poem is vivid and engaging, with phrases such as “Rain on snares meters the pace,” “Smooth, rolling, blue,” and “The ivory tones chase strings of gold.” These descriptions create a sensory experience for the reader, effectively transporting them to the smoke-filled club and immersing them in the music.

The poem’s use of ellipses and cascading text in the first stanza, as described in the author’s note, adds a sense of movement and rhythm to the poem that mirrors the flow of the jazz music. This formatting choice is visually striking and enhances the poem’s overall impact.

The second stanza introduces the idea of time passing, with lines like “Time flits through on wings of an old song.” This theme adds depth to the poem by connecting the experience of listening to jazz music with the passage of time and the power of memory. The phrase “an old song” also serves as an effective metaphor for the nostalgic feelings evoked by the music.

The third stanza concludes the poem with a sense of resolution and a return to a familiar place. The lines “While we race the bleating brass, the bass line leads us home” create a comforting and satisfying ending, tying the poem together and leaving the reader with a lasting impression.

In terms of critique, the poem is well-executed in its imagery and structure. One suggestion would be to consider the punctuation in the second stanza, specifically the lack of punctuation after “Time flits through.” Adding punctuation or adjusting line breaks could help guide the reader through the poem more smoothly.

In conclusion, “An Old Song” is a captivating and evocative poem that successfully transports the reader to a dimly lit jazz club and immerses them in the emotions and atmosphere of the music. The poem’s imagery, structure, and rhythm effectively communicate its themes and create a memorable experience for the reader. With some minor adjustments to punctuation and line breaks, the poem could be even more engaging and impactful.

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