Need to put a little lyrical pep in your step as you saunter into 2016? Here are two poets you can feel good about.
Monique A. Gordon’s syllabic hops and bobbles move through time and nostalgic space to a place of warmth in “Mystery Man.” Meanwhile Beth Feldman Brandt’s sonic resonance demands the reader’s attention — especially the ear (“Pick up,” she says.) — in “RetroLove: The Call.” Brandt also asks us to slow our stride with gentle grace and precision in “RetroLove: The Song.” Move beside these two musical poets below and, for more soulful sounds of Philadelphia, visit Mighty Radio, a non-profit station dedicated to honoring the legacy of Philadelphia soul radio from 1950 to 1979.
by Monique A. Gordon
I never asked about Dashiki Khaki Man.
I never asked about his heavy canvas bags,
On shoulders, in hands heading into school without walls.
He always high-fived, fist bumped,
Nodded hello with a bouncy gait.
I never asked about helpers,
like roadies taking his bags,
toting them down to basement.
I never asked about guys & gals with guitars following.
Reappearing hummin’ & strummin’
Bebop/blues/jazz tunes/slappin’ fives.
Heading upstairs of store with wall-to-wall books,
Dashiki Khaki Man totes heavy canvas bags,
On shoulders, in hands.
His image, his story on poster,
Harrison Ridley Jr,
Lecturer, Music Radio host,
Landlord of recordings…
Tagged, Gentle Bear.
The same man we listened to on Sunday nights.
The same man my mother swung to with Big Band tales.
On radio, Mystery Man/Gentle bear appeared again.
An Actor reminisced noteworthy days in Philly,
“Jammin’ with Bad Ass Cat Custodian in school without walls,
spittin’ wisdom, spinnin’ LPs on stereo,
loungin’ on couch, rappin’ ‘bout music
RetroLove: The Call
by Beth Feldman Brandt
I want to slow-dial you, finger hooked,
number by number, waiting on
each click-sprung inhale-exhalation.
I want to cradle the handset,
hand curled, ear cupped,
mouth encircled perforations.
I want the tintinnabulation,
one two three rings
before the connection.
I want, “Hello, who’s calling please?”
I want to send my words down
the rainbow-sheathed copper threads,
each carrying its own consonant.
I want to be clear
I want a direct extension
a landline anchor
I want to be hardwired to you.
RetroLove: The Song
by Beth Feldman Brandt
When it spilled from the dashboard as we drove
to the shore in my yellow Oldsmobile with the top down
and then again from the dial-tuned 77WABC, transistor radio
on our blanket on the sand at Jones Beach,
we figured Cousin Brucie was sending us a sign --
and we spun that tune from the black vinyl LP
held tenderly by the edges, dropped the needle again
and again, so we could slow dance when we were together
and sigh when we were apart until the groove wore down
into a stutter skip right before the second chorus
which made it, irreplaceably, ours, and now Cousin Brucie
is pushing 80, and the tune has gone digital, its underlying
hiss erased, but still when I hear it, I wait for the stutter,
the way my heart still skips at the first notes of us.
About Monique A. Gordon
I’m a Philadelphia native, whose nickname stems from a 1962 sitcom: The New Loretta Young Show. Loretta Young had five daughters, just as my parents did and Loretta’s inquisitive, feisty child was named Binkie Massey. I write by the moon, and spin tales from dreams, encounters, quotes found on fair-trade teabag tags, notes left behind by strangers... My personal library is a pastiche of journals and books given as gifts, bought from flea markets, sidewalk sales, independent book dealers, thrift shops, and unclaimed books found on public transit or tossed in the dumpster by their owners. Beside being a lover of words, I love wildlife. Endo, (a Chihuahua/Terrier mix) and I have rescued over fifteen strays, and placed some in loving homes, and surrendered others to Animal Care & Control.
Motto: Never lend out books; this saves energy on worrying if they will be returned in good condition–or at all.
About Beth Feldman Brandt
Beth Feldman Brandt has been writing poetry for six years during which time her writing has investigated such diverse themes as atomic clocks, ocean habitats, "The Origin of Species" and dating before the Internet. She is the author of "Sage", a work with visual artist Claire Owen based on a 1633 text of herbal remedies, and "Solace", published by Greenleaf Poetry Press, and created as part of the 2014 Bartram Boxes Remix exhibition at the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia. She was a winner of the 2013 Haiku-Year-in-Review poetry competition by Broadsided Press. Mad Poet's Review.
Her poem, "Transmutation", based on the life of Charles Darwin, was set to music by composer Andrew Litts as part of “Dialogues with Darwin”, a collaborative project with the American Philosophical Society performed by Network for New Music in February 2010. She is currently collaborating with LItts on a song cycle based on her poems entitled, "Wind Rose."
Beth is a five-time artist-in-residence at the Ragdale Foundation. She is the Chair of the Poet Laureate Committee for the City of Philadelphia.
In danger of becoming known as ‘that nature poet’, she is psyched about the upcoming RetroLove show, an evening of poetry, songs and jazz with Philadelphia Jazz Project on June 29-30, 2016.*