The Mental Institutions Of The Mind

This is a sample from my new book A Sense Of The Ridiculous (XLibris)

Walls we can split at a stroke.

We don’t. I don’t. You don’t.

Walls of attitudes and limitations

We go round inside their frame,

Using up a precious time.

All at once we say it isn’t fun this way –

In fact, it’s downright suffering.

“So, to hell with what I lost,

My ignorance, the mangled cost;

My big mistakes and jangled sleep,

Nights counting sheep;”

The replicas of outlived choices.

There’s big N Now, – memories and voices

From a new Now-know,

While past is working out and through,

Loss is just a thing to learn by,

Not to cry

For, everything acquired/lost

Is tossed into the pot of change.

Gone is gone

And holding on to “gone”s inane.

To not reflect on what we gain

Is to reject the medicine.


The Mental Institution Of The Mind 11.21.2002 (revised 6.27.2015)

A Sense Of The Ridiculous; Nature Of & In Reality; Definitely Didactic;

Arlene Corwin




One Or Two Bangs 2002

A Couple Of Bangs


I was standing on my head and thinking:

One or two bangs

And the knowledge could go;

Just when I’m learning

To use my computer!

One or two bangs

And we’re scraping for scrap,

Riding on horses

(If any are left),

Charting new courses,


Of a map,

Lighting and warming with flame sparked by flint,

Barter our mint,

Clothes made of lint.

Two generations, the knowledge could fade,

Memories turning to legend and shadow.

Just when I’m learning to turn on the Net!

I haven’t begun to discover things yet.


A couple of bangs, a volcano that’s spewed

And the whole thing is screwed:

E-mail, airplane, trip to the stars –

(If not to the stars, then to Venus or Mars).

I was just getting used to the silicon chip,

Miniaturized lightness, plasticized hip;

All this could go with a couple of bangs,

A forty day rain

On a main plain in Spain.

God, don’t give up on us,

Rescue us,

For we’re too few bangs away.


A Couple Of Bangs 10.18.2002

Our Times, Our Culture; God Book;

Arlene Corwin





Winter Surprised Us 2002

Winter Surprised Us


Winter surprised us this mild October.

Just when I’d praised an October so sober.

Eighteenth October and snow started lightly,

Thinly – but whitely.  By night we

Were covered when you’d just predicted

No winter at all,

A long, long, long fall –

And lo, winter beauty!

A plow does its duty.

Trees haven’t even shed all of their leaves

Which, snow-driven leaf,

Will freeze green in form.

Mean or indifferent: a deviant norm.

October’s too soon, too darned premature;

Caricature of what winter should be,

When and how.  As for me,

I’ll just put on one more layer, more heat;

Eat more meat:

All that adapts.

I’ll vocalize more,

Use store of potential in and around;

Hope that it’s not one more sign of abuse,

Product of industry’s chilling excuse.

Snow in October astounds and confounds.

Snow in October feels downright perverse,

But sooner than later one’s forced not to curse,

But sign truce with the pines and the firs and the spruce.

The end of confusion is peace.


Winter Surprised Us 10.19.2002

Circling Round Nature; Our Times, Our Culture;

Arlene Corwin

People Get Tattoos

People Get Tattoos

People get tattoos


They think that there’s no change,

Because they’re vain, in love…you name it.


Because they’ve no idea

That what was butt or breast or chest

Firm-formed, de-forms

With ‘budding bicep rose’ becoming

Wrinkled, wilted posy -of-the-elbows.

I suppose it’s all to do with time

And how we throw away prime

Energies, the side- and peepshow

We once worshipped with a gusto.


Worn and old.

Tattoo, you are a symbol

Of myopia and youth,

Cockeyed view of truth that lets us down.


Still, there always will be those

Who need tattoos – jewelry indelible,

Refusing reason until gusto is disgust.

There’s nothing one can say or do

Except re-sing this blemished tune

For anyone who’ll listen:

Just be witness and abstain.


People Get Tattoos 7.20.2002 /1.18.2004

A Sense Of The Ridiculous; Definitely Didactic; Time;

Circling Round Vanities; Circling Round Wrinkles;

Arlene Corwin

To The Doctor Who Examines Me 2002 2004

                                        To The Doctor Who Examines Me


I was thinking that this body is a unit and,

If you don’t see a pattern

In the portions that go wrong,

Then perhaps you’re sitting in a chair

To which you don’t belong:

Too tired, young, or not attentive.

How I wish you’d see the symptoms

As an ocean bowl,

With rivulets connecting whole

To dams and sluices where the juices,

Pebbles, stones are formed within, all kin

To one another.

It is obvious that pain or pressure

Down a leg has a connection to the hip,

The pelvis, stomach, large intestine – let’s not skip

The knuckle bumps, hard private lumps

With their connection to the rest:

Cholesterol and stressed out parts

In hearts not happy pumping.

Always working to your best,

To fix a system that will not dissect –

One hard to see: a one-in-many,

And God knows, one hard to diagnose.

Yet it’s your job to cure,

Find sense, be sure –

Which can’t be done

Unless you see the parts-in-one

Which, failing to do

Means you’re still too

Young and blind,

Or just not paying mind

Enough attention.


To The Doctor Who Examines Me 6.30.2002  (revised 9.18.2004)

Birth, Death & In Between; Circling Round Nature; Definitely Didactic;

Arlene Corwin 

More Examination Observation 2002 2004

         More Examination Observation

Sixty eight and something’s new:

Breasts are lower – larger too.

The bad, the good -as usual.

Relatively new, I need new time

To melt into a new quiescence,

Seeing beauty in two breasts

That used to stand and stick right out.

Time to see them not as symbol

When I thought them much too small,

Not as symptom,

But as guests whose fall

Gives rise to modesty,

An I-less anonymity:

A mild, non-thought, non-value thing –

But valued as an old dear Ming,

An autumned spring, a non-inviting flavoring

Enduring, non-alluring, lowering:

Time for giving in.

K. can always see the bright side.

I see death come closer;

Chains and series; night ride

To a darker place.

I’ve got no choice.

(It could be worse.)

It’s time to go from strength to strengths,

From self-display to coming-out

To celebrate an ageing part;

Leave behind the body doubt

And gadding ‘bout

And preening what was only wart

To an arlene-ing of the heart,

The voice and head


© More Examination, Observation 02.8.7 (revised04.9.20)

Circling Round Nature; Circling Round Woman; Nature In & Of Reality;

Birth, Death & In Between; I Is Always You Is We; Pure Nakedness; Time;

Arlene Corwin





Sixty eight and something’s new:

Breasts are lower – larger too.

The bad, the good -as usual.

Relatively new, I need new time

To melt into a new quiescence,

Seeing beauty in two breasts

That used to stand and stick right out.

Time to see them not as symbol

When I thought them much too small,

Not as symptom,

But as guests whose fall

Gives rise to modesty,

An I-less anonymity:

A mild, non-thought, non-value thing –

But valued as an old dear Ming,

An autumned spring, a non-inviting flavoring

Enduring, non-alluring, lowering:

Time for giving in.

K. can always see the bright side.

I see death come closer;

Chains and series; night ride

To a darker place.

I’ve got no choice.

(It could be worse.)

It’s time to go from strength to strengths,

From self-display to coming-out

To celebrate an ageing part;

Leave behind the body doubt

And gadding ‘bout

And preening what was only wart

To an arlene-ing of the heart,

The voice and head


Midsummer Party #1 #2 2002 2004

              Midsummer Party #1
June seventeenth: approaching

Mid-, the height, the longest, light,

A day which, catching hold

Of loss and cold,

Is time that never can recur –

Day never coming back;

A sun that stays up all the night

And on till dawn

With eating, drinking, friends, the pack

Carousing light-night long

To joke and celebrate the wait-for-what:

A curtain that for certain

Falls or opens summer’s tent.

             Midsummer Party #2

June seventeenth:

Approaching mid; the height;

The longest, lightest day.

And I am hit,

Encompassed by a hint

Of loss,

The tint of cold,

Of one more year;

Of age foretold,

And days one never can get back:

Time that cannot return.

June seventeenth: the main concern:

Eating, drinking, friends, the pack

Of relatives; to celebrate

And stay up late.

And here I sit up with the solstice:

Life in death’s becoming.

Flirting and forgetting laws:

High; low; the effects of cause.

Midsummer party:

Curtain waiting for a fall;

We, not thinking that we’re running out of funny hats,

Unending years and festivals.

© Midsummer Party original 02.6.17/ recomposed04.1.21Circling Round Nature; Birth, Death & In Between; Time; Nature In & Of Reality;  Arlene Corwin

Manipulating Time 2002

                    Manipulating Time

 Manipulating Time

Into [time]

[Time] in two

In tune [with time]

Time deep in self –

Deep in and out of nowhere

That prolongs,


Manipulating for more room

Within its frame. How nice!

An inexpensive price to pay

For elongating night and day:

Your life; more life to claim;

More time to soar;

More life that’s yours.


Manipulating Time 02.5.23 Circling Round Time; Vaguely About Music;  Arlene Corwin 



Open-Ended Autobiography


Arlene Corwin’s Poetry

Just another weblog


Arlene Corwin’s Open-Ended Biography

(10.3.2007 updated 10.24.2007 updated 1.3.2008; updated December 15, 2009, October 2010 )

Arlene Corwin (born Arlene Faith Nover) is an American jazz singer and pianist, poet, teacher and practitioner of Yoga. Born November 8, 1934 in the Williamsburg Maternity Hospital, Brooklyn, New York. She has two children. Jonathan Eric Corwin (born July 24. 1956 and) Jennifer Nover Council (born February 2, 1964). Mother Margy Lillian (born Brown). Father Albert S. Nover. Both were hairdressers, owning a beauty salon together. Everyone was musical on both sides of the family.Mother sang, could play some piano. Father was a gifted sculptor and wood carver, played a little harmonica and mandolin. The family is Jewish.

Early Life
Started studying piano age 8. Studied voice at the famous 1650 Broadway with ‘coach’ Matty Levine. Did a little recording at aged 10 in Nola Studios. (The record has since disappeared) At 12 she started studying harp with Meyer Rosen (Julliard and NBC Orchestra) and the occasional piano lesson with an NBC pianist who taught her how to read chord changes, seeing at once that she was not interested in learning classical piano.

As a child she had already sung at weddings, bar mitzvahs and for the USO, raising bonds for the war effort. At 13, having a boyfriend who played the saxophone and who listened to Symphony Sid, jazz disc jockey whose late night show originated from Birdland, she awakened to jazz, listening to the late night show “under my blanket”. “A turning point”, she says. (Well before “Lullaby of Birdland” was put to words Arlene had written a lyric of her own – a lyric she still sings today) At 14,she was playing for a dancing school once a week. Then she got an accidental job (“slipping in on a banana peel when the singer got sick”) in a Brooklyn nightclub singing with a group. “Mom and dad chaperoned, of course”.1950s 

She began to sing regularly when again, out of the blue, an agent rang offering a job for a hundred dollars a week to play at the Mayflower Hotel in Manhattan. It was a restaurant owned by Bob Olin, a former light heavyweight world champion. “I was so naïve I played the whole evening without ever taking a break. Who knew about breaks? Why they kept me I’ve no idea.” But they did and the steady salary of $100.00 a week (which she gave directly to her mother, any other choice never occurring to her) and the experience of having to make a varied program led to her singing to the piano, and eventually to playing to the singing. At this time she was still in high school as attending the prestigious High School of Music & Art as a harpist.She graduated from Music & Art getting a scholarship to Hofstra College as a music major.

Then in 1952, while still at Hofstra College (now university), she was playing on the weekends in a Hempstead, Long Island nightclub-restaurant when Slim Gaillard, who’d come to see Jack Teagarden (also working there) began to take notice of her. He started showing up regularly. There he met Arlene’s mother Margy, and the two eventually opened a jazz nightclub, the first to cater to blacks and whites. It was called The Turf and it, like Birdland had its own radio show, for which Arlene wrote the theme song “The Slim Gaillard Show”. Now she was standing as well as sitting, getting a chance to sit in and sing as often as she chose. The die was cast. It was jazz, cool jazz.

Early Influences
In 1954, on the day she ought to have been attending her college graduation, she married Bob Corwin, a 21-year-old jazz pianist with the Don Elliot Quartet. Because Bob toured, Arlene began her new stage of education: listening to Don’s group while they played on the same bill as the jazz greats of the 50’s. There was Helen Merrill at George Wein’s Storyville in Boston, Terry Gibbs and Illinois Jacquet in Detroit, Bill Evans, Cy Coleman, Bernard Peiffer, Tal Farlowe,Johnny Smith John Mehagan and Billy Taylor (who had also performed at the Turf) at the sophisticated Composer owned by jazz lover and connoiseur Willie Short in Manhattan. ” It was also a chance to see and listen to other singers of the day. New York was marvelous in those days. I saw Peggy Lee at Basin Street, became friends with Blossom Dearie at Trudy’s in the village, Oscar Peterson, Marian McPartland at the Hickory House, Sheila Jordan, Morgana King. It was THE university for me. I was introduced to and mentored by Tony Fruscella, the tragic, unsung genius of the trumpet, ‘who I took on my gigs, but to whom I was actually the apprentice’ – and through Tony to Morgana King and Beverly Getz, the talented [and equally tragic] wife of Stan Getz. I feel blessed to have experienced jazz at that time. The guys would gossip about who played ‘behind’ or ‘ahead’ of the beat, bass lines, good changes, bad changes. No Music & Art or Hofstra did that. I learned almost the whole of what is now called The American Songbook. And I, I was sounding like Sarah Vaughn with a little voice.”


Hanging Around Manhattan; Not This, Not That…
Living in New York, and looking for a niche she spent time, as other musicians did, at the Musicians Union Local 802 or Charlie’s Tavern where jobs could show up. In this way, there were weeks and weekends away with big bands: Tommy Dorsey’s Orchestra under the leadership of Warren Covington, Claude Thornhill and Larry Sonn.

“When you hang around New York all kinds of opportunities show up”. And so, she got a leading role in a B film called “Jukebox Racket’, wrote the score for another B film called, at the time “She Should Have Stayed In Bed”, later to be called ‘1,000 Shapes Of A Female: see IDMB (the company, called Exploit Films was owned by Errol Flynn “tall, big in every way, veins on his face, but exuding old world charm” He was quite, quite overwhelming.”

Then there was a bit part in John Cassavetes “Shadows”, followed by the lead in what has become a cult ‘beat’ musical called “The Nervous Set” by Fran and Jay Landesman where she introduced the now-standards “Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most and “Ballad Of The Sad Young Men”, both subsequently recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey and numberless major artists. She studied acting with Joshua Shelley. “It was a time to find out who and what I was. “I was definitely not an actress. I was too introverted and none of those clothes fit” she says.

More Influences and more Not This, Not That…
In 1959 she met Johnny Burke (Burke & Van Heusen) who took her under his wing, taking her to Hollywood to demonstrate his show “Donnybrook” for Rosalind Russell and husband, producer Frederick Brisson “It was a glitzy time. I stayed at Bob Hope’s house in Palm Springs, met Frank Sinatra and his then fiancee Juliet Prowse, Jerry Lewis, Marlene Deitrich, had my own suite in Las Vegas , traveled first class, but was so introverted I always kept to myself, never saying much, definitely not participating in any of these scenes. Those clothes didn’t fit either.”

All the while she returned to the intimacy of New York supper clubs. They were the bottom line, singing and playing.

It was during the supper club period, she met Al Weissman who became her manager. She was signed to the Joe Glazer Agency and began to tour with her own trio. “Wherever I went they’d say, “You know, there’s just been a girl here who sounds like you. Her name was Barbra something. I suppose we had Brooklyn Jewishness in common. ” (She too was signed with Glazer.)

Although published by Frank Publishing (owned by composer Frank Loesser) years later she asked for the songs back because “nothing happened.” “It was a period of promise, a period I was not equipped to fulfill”.

In 1962 it was back to Hollywood with Al Weissman and high hopes. “I had some jobs, but never in my genre.” Back to New York. A little jaunt of songwriting with singer Dick Haymes. A short marriage of four months to Richard Robin Palmer.

Greece, Lebanon, Greece, Oxford – Yoga & Jazz

In 1966, by way of Paris, Greece (where she and husband Jim Council were neighbors with Leonard Cohen and Marianne) and Lebanon, “where I actually managed to do some television, singing jazz”, she settled in Oxford, England for the next 18 years, teaching yoga,(“lectured and demonstrated in what must have been a hundred Women’s Insitutes, posed for one of the very first health magazines called Health & Fitness, wrote articles on nutrition, had a weekly radio spot on a little radio show for BBB Oxford actually doing Yoga on radio while describing each pose with a microphone up my nose, did a tape on meditation – it was a lot of Yoga”) and singing and playing, being voted Best Jazz Singer in the Midlands 1972, appearing at Ronnie Scott’s three times. She did 3 television shows; a late night BBC jazz show called “In The Cool Of The Evening”, radio for BBC overseas, was invited over to Amsterdam to do Dutch radio, sang at universities around England, (“one night opposite Pink Floyd, “who were just starting out, I suppose”), the American air bases.

She appeared several times at The Stables in Wavendon (run by John Dankworth – now Sir John Dankworth – and Cleo Laine -now Dame Cleo Laine – while at the same time giving weekly yoga lessons to a group there, (which included Dame Cleo – “a wonderful yogin”). The Wavendon All-Music Plan, later known simply as WAP “was the most stimulating and original enterprise I’ve ever encountered, pairing all kinds of musical genre. I even played on the same bill as Vladimir Ashkenazy.”

Starting in 1969 and all during the 70’s fate gave a push to the yoga side of things and Arlene was teaching yoga classes in doctor’s offices for hyper-tense, cardiac and overweight men. teaching regularly at conferences for IBM. She gave demonstrations, lectured all over for the Women’s Institute, posed and wrote for Health and Fitness Magazine (summer issue 1982) a book called The New Manual Of Yoga by Karen Ross (1973) wrote articles on nutrition, made a cassette called This Is Meditation. It was a full double life with Yoga taking half the time and singing the other half.

1980s to now.
In 1983 she once again ran into Slim Gaillard – this time in London. He asked her to appear on a television show he was producing that was to star himself, Kai Winding and Wayne Shorter. It was the last appearance she ever made in England.In 1984, finding Sweden fertile ground for singer/pianists, and meeting and falling in love with Kent Anderson, she moved to Sweden where she lives until today, performing, and writing regularly for “Live With Good Intentions” an online magazine.
Still growing, still changing
The latest news – 2009 and 25 years later, aged 75: a cd of her own songs for Imogen Records produced by George Reece, a concert of Johnny Mercer to commemorate his 100th birthday, poetry grown to 2000 poems (see Arlene Corwin Poetry).

2009 finds her favorite project on Google called Arlene Corwin’s Poetry, a project that started in 1949 or about 2,000 poems ago.

2010 landmark:  First published book of poetry, “Circling Round Time” comes out in September “To The Child Mystic” the second due to come out in December.

2010-11  Circling Round Time and To The Child Mystic.  The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative . Regular contributor  to online magazines ElderwomanSpace; Jerry Jazz Musician; Elderwomanstorytellingplace; 

2012 More books!  Circling Round Woman; Circling Round Our Times, Our Culture; Circling Round Vanity: Vaguely About Music and Circling Round Eros + 2.  Publised by Xlibris.

2013-2014 More & more! Circling Round Yoga, Science, War & Cats; Circling Round Nature; God Book; in the works A Sense Of The Ridiculous.

Music career took an upswing with performances and concerts – an intimate series of composer-of-the-month programs based on the best of American popular composers.

And, of all things, at age 77, the start of yoga teaching in Härryda, Sweden.  

Arlene Corwin is, as at this writing, 80 years of age. Over 3,000 poems.

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A la Jane Austin 2002/04/05/06

               A la Jane Austin

I understand the modern man

I understand a la Jane Austin.

I know his concentration

Needs more snippets than long episodes,

His mental station gone awry.

I know the reason why, and I

Take heed, belonging to this restless breed.

I have a sense of when to stop.

Not stooping to the popular,

Since instincts tell me ‘when’,

And by the time the pen

Has filled A4,

I’d better not have one word more;

The mind-throat must be stilled.

The one-page reader won’t turn over.

Paradoxically, he’s buying longer books then ever.

The novella’s gone to hell, as well as

Rhyme and metered time.

Did I say I understood it,

This phenomenon modern?

I’m part of it. I know that much.

I am in touch with modern mind –

The search to find a higher truth,

Ponce de Leon’s search for youth,

The need for speed as well as silence.

I am there to understand the head and tail,

The ego frail, its longing for a holy grail.

I understand the hand that writes

To finish when A4 runs out.

A discipline from doubt or drought

That comes from having modern man’s eternal heart.

©A la Jane Austin 8.6.2002/3.16.2004/11.4.2005/2006

Our Times, Our Culture; The Processes: Creative, Thinking, Meditative;

Arlene Corwin








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