What Exactly Is Jazz?

What Exactly Is Jazz?

There have been books,
And books and books!
I was hooked when at thirteen
A saxophoning fella said,
“You’ve got to hear Symphony Sid!”
I did, and the next year or so,
Listening to the radio
I wrote words to Shearing’s song
Long, long ‘fore Ella.
(I’ve sung my version ever since.)

Still at school I got a gig.
Playing, singing, still a kid,
I found I altered standard changes –
Small arrangements the result.

Then mom was introduced
(perhaps seduced) to Slim of Gaillard.
Off her guard they bought a club –
Jazz the hub.
My playing may have made all wince,
But i’ve been jazzing ever since.

Now I love to take a riff,
Love to make it somewhat different.
As for jazz, the idiom,
I know and see it in each crumb
When art is at its most succumbing:
Vitalised and improvised…
Obvious the talent’s bent… and meant.

What exactly is this thing
That sings its song the whole world over?
Primitive or virtuosic, diatonic or chromatic,
Voicings Bach-like or Monk-clever,
Infinite in heart and mind
And therefore ought not be defined
Because you find it everywhere:
Jazz is fascination fastened.

What Exactly Is Jazz? 4.30.2021 Vaguely About Music II; Arlene Nover Corwin


Newly re-discovered and re-written with the eye and mind of an 86 year old.


It isn’t that I was a beauty –
Ravishing or stunning,
But the young have assets winning
In the limber and the nimble,
In the willowy and flexible;
Ligament and cartilage,
New formed partnerships.
Skipping grace, the ageing seeps into the
Shortened, lengthened, thickened heaps.
Creamy, glossy, high cheekbone
Erased and gone,
Replaced by pressing lines that frown.

Not loss but changes [to the]
Self, our peers, – our generation disappearing.
Knowledge which, though understanding
Is no restful, cheering peace
But fear that meets us with a tear,
With answers which may ne’er come near
But carry on their jeering.

It isn’t that I was a beauty.
Looking-glass and date remind me
How much beauty’s in the supple,
“You’re the apple of my eye”, says nature.
Ageing’s wit and not an answer!
Muscle mass, the well-formed ass,
Ratio of nose/lips, waist/hips;,
Elasticity an aching stiffness;
Movement showing signs of stress.
Hostile drooping chin through to neck…
Heck, hopefully, the wick of beauty really comes
When youthful beauty shrinks and runs.

Gone 10.23.2008/110.29.2008/re-written 3.39.2021 Circling Round Ageing; Arlene Nover Corwin

You Can’t Have A War

You Can’t Have A War

You can’t have a war unless you have weapons;
You can’t have those weapons unless you have industries;
Can’t have an industry earning no money –
And money means profit, for who runs an industry
That doesn’t profit?

Profit’s the carrot.
The distance is multi- or many small instances
Building the one upon other, passed over
Or turned a blind eye to.
Oil or real estate, access to labor,
Coasts, mines and power,
Their use and abuse and war as the certainty.
It’s thoroughly sad, this fighting for terra;
A sickening error
Pretending it’s doctrine or canon or righteousness.
Overruled: conscience.

You can’t have a war, you cannot restrain it,
Unless there’s this chain of re-action,
With everyone playing his part.
It’s breaking my heart.
Ain’t it yours?
You Can’t Have A War 10.14.2017 War Book II; Our Times, Our Culture II; Arlene Corwin

We Who Keep Writing

 We Who Keep Writing

I listen, read and look,
The world around a book.
This simple observation
To one linguistically inclined,
As Swedes say,
“It lies ‘in the spine” *
Another way of saying,
In the gene or DNA.

This Facebook thing,
The many, many sites that ring,
Communicating, reaching out
To those of us who think and write
In words
Are worlds of benefit and benediction.
So-so intellect and talent

We who carry on,
Persist, keep on
By virtue of some motivation
Indivisible, invisible,
Yet Siamese twin
Are blessed without, blessed from within.
This tiny verse took 15 minutes.

We who Keep Writing 3.28.2021 The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative II; Circling Round Experience; Arlene Nover Corwin

  • (for I live in Sweden)



Sitting in the car and thinking…maybe wrongly,
Youth cannot identify
With one, who eighty-one or two
Is me – or you;
The age non-real,
Too far away to feel.
Doctors too: your doctor, my…
So many symptoms pass them by.
The pity is, it’s we who sigh, or cry…or die.
We, who do the main research,
Left in the lurch
To crouch in front of the computer,
For we must,
There being none to trust
Except for God,
Who, just and boss
Is first in charge of soul and loss,
Age and body,

We need doctors eager, sage,
Whose zeal is aimed at us: the aged:
Who burn to, yearn to heal, engage
The living old,
For theirs and they
Will be join the white-haired fold
One day.

Gerontology re-viewed, renewed 3.24.2021(original 10.18.2016) Circling Round Ageing; Birth, Death & In Between III; Arlene Nover Corwin
the scientific study of old age, the process of ageing, and the particular problems of old people.

How Much We Take For Granted

  How Much We take For Granted

There’s more I can’t do than I can.
With seven fingers amputated,
The only thing I find that’s bettered
Is creative mind, un-fettered
And un-shattered by the principle: mind over matter.
For it’s matter/mind
Refining, re-aligning
By some all-surpassing intellect.
It’s odd that forces we call God
Set courses new;
Courses brewing in the quiet
While the body riots
In complaint.

So many things to learn to handle:
Twisting, turning, grabbing, holding,
Pushing, pulling, squeezing, folding,
Lifting, mixing, gluing, fixing…
What a list! And what I missed
When there were ten.
How much we take for granted!

How Much We Take For Granted 3.24.2021 Pure Nakedness II; Circling Round Experience; Arlene Nover Corwin

The Passing Over

     The Passing Over

What is more a blessing
Than the passing by and over,
Death’s own angel gracing us;
Be more than passing out of
Chains and subjugation
Into reigning liberation!

Seders, customs and tradition:
Lamb the gamboling, an offering
Of life to save, to feed a need;
More than symbol:
Herbs and matzoh, salted water…
Stories told each generation;
Voided slaughter.

Eight full days of celebration
When a folk becomes a nation.
Pesach did not come to be
A structured practice til fifth century, BC.
Interest, opportunity, all play
Into the hands of history
And how it’s shaped.
Mysteries and questions apt
Will also be –

It’s faith in “I AM THAT I AM!”
That gives us hope and aim

  • and love;
    Optimism, trust:
    All the above.
    Chag Pesch Samech!*

The Passing Over 3.23.2021 Our Culture, Our Times II; Circling round Experience; Arlene Nover Corwin

  • Have a happy Passover! (roughly speaking)

My Corona Day

   My Corona Day

My corona day’s a Corwin day;
No different than the other days
Because in many ways – most ways
I do the same things, knowing that
Each day’s a part, and only part
Of life’s innumerable phases.

Waking, shaking off the dream-filled slumber,
( I dream a lot. I dream each night)
Put the night back on its shelf,
Collect a self that is my self,
Sit up, propped up, (I may have peed by now)
My Kent awakes coincident.
Slightly bent, he moves to kiss my brow
And asks me what I want to eat.
(Breakfast is my in-bed treat).

Breakfast over,
Albert Cat atop the cover, Arlene Nover
Corwin opens Lap Computer.
(friends deserve big L big C)
Watching morning’s fixed TV,
Spots a pregnant phrase that bites,
Phrase becoming working title,
Thus the day begins with writing.

Hours later, writing entered, worked or printed,
Mail checked, perused or answered,
I advance around my home.
Longtime yogin that I am,
Training on each object near –
Kneeling on my ageing haunches,
Working muscle, joint and tendon
Stretching, watching each intention,
Every move becomes a balm.

Hours are going;
Energy and drive and power
Shifting naturally by the hour,
Within which I’ve laundered, cooked, kneaded flour,
Practiced tunes, learning some new,
Checking voice to keep it fresh,
Checking choices, keys and chord;
Though bone and flesh, I’ve not been bored!
Corona days a part of all
The countless phases of our days.
Refuse to let them faze you!

My Corona Day 3.22.2021 Pure Nakedness II; Circling Round Experience; Arlene Nover Corwin


Getting Your Affairs In Order

   Getting Your Affairs In Order

I’m getting my affairs in order.
By affairs I don’t mean love affairs –
They got ‘ordered’ long ago.
You reach an age where you no longer
Think yourself un-deadly;
Getting one’s affairs in order is a ‘getting ready’ –
You who having left your prime,
Traveling through time not only limited to astronauts.
Life support that may have passed,
‘Affairs in order’ is the comfort of a passport,
No more a worrywart divisive,
Indecisive about treasure gathered over years,
Tied and bound by tears nostalgic;
Wondering who’ll want this, where shall this land?
Pondering over hindering or squandering.
You want those apples of your eye,
Your prides and joys,
To go someplace where they’ll be loved;
Want to leave the place you lived
Not just an empty space but gift received.
We weave a life we’d wish to leave,
Woven for those far or near, bereaved or dear,
And that means putting your affairs in order
From consideration of a future –
Not of yours but of the other.

Getting Your Affairs In Order 3.20.2021 Birth, Death& In Between III; Arlene Nover Corwin



Perhaps I should be grateful
That I never was recipient
Of great applause,
Years of adorers,
Broadway’s honey,
Years of being stunning,
Grateful that
I never had to kowtow, bow out,
Miss the kudos and the fame,
Never knowing what life was
With and without them, since I never got them.
Never got to play Las Vegas,
Glad there never came a time
Of longing for a non-existent encore,
Cheering I no longer hear.

Hair going grey,
Kilos heading the wrong way,
You are asked to make a comeback,
Or you’ve asked to make a comeback;
Life feels boring,
No alluring pleasure takes the place
Of listener filled with earful grace.

You sweat and strain, extra kilos off again,
Get back routines,
Move as you did in your teens,
Flexibility, the voice retaining every nuance.
Frank and Cher came back again – and then again.
We followed each rendition, each gradation, limitation;
Cheered until the cheers turned into hesitation.

I am grateful that I never
Had the clamouring for autographs and tresses,
Shredded dresses, theirs and mine.
Never had the glamour and the clamour of masses,
Fervent need to make a comeback,
Coming back to audiences smelling wine:
Hard to define.
And still I play and sing and grow.

Comeback 5.28.2008/revised3.19.2021
Birth, Death & In Between; Time; Vaguely About Music; Arlene Nover Corwin

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