Herbie Mann Comin' Home

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Roman Ex, Roman Eye

You wouldn't think so, but it snows in Italy

and here, too, just after the black ice --

splatter, plink, doily-drift, and bury,

boot-tread deep, an immortal skid for the young.

Here inside, next to the wheels only

of an old clockwork, eleven on eleven,

the OXO kettle whines the cat under a bed

and splashes boil into a mug I drool with honey.

Out in the distance, love rumbles into a stranger's 

chest like an off-road vehicle

yet even with forced air, these chill rooms

Hover like breath in a widow's heart.



  1. Such an image you've created here. And I felt the chill, though I've never imagined "breath in a widow's heart." That's stunning!

    Love the Nancy Wilson clip. Had I known and looked at the Blue Note calendar more frequently, I'd have loved to have seen her there back in May. Blue Note in NY is the absolute perfect venue for these treasures that are fading and not being replaced....


  2. OH, you have a way with words ... to be sure!!!

  3. Snow season is almost upon us and this piece just paved the way. I love winter, the kettles, the honey, the mugs. And I like the way "doily" (one of my favorite words, by the way) connects, somewhat indirectly, to the widow at the end. Nice.

  4. Rick,

    Appreciate what you've said!

    Nancy Wilson, had she peaked in 1950 or 1955, would be mentioned in equal measure with 'Ella, Sarah, Billie'. And with Carmen McRae.

    The music biz, like a lot of America by the late 50s had grown to sure of itself, been bitten by recording wealth, sought widest audiences with string orchestras.

    When you give Nancy the sparest arrangements, she knocks it out of the park.


  5. Helen,

    The more I try to have my way with words, the more they try to have their way with me!


  6. Cad,

    Trying to keep up my 'calor'.


  7. Willow,

    They're predicting snow here, in some lightish but disconcerting and troubling manner, within a couple of days.

    Need a snowcat just for my nerves.

    Yours Truly (and fooly),

    Malibu Man

  8. oh you write delicious imagery...love rumbles...nice...great stuff and love the sounds at the beginning...

  9. Brian,

    I can always forgive heavy praise -- pour it on, my friend!

    About the sound, I picked that up, at least consciously employed, something along those 'onomatopoeic' line after reading some Kenneth Koch poems.

    When I showed others, they sort of shrugged.

    One of the hardest things is to combine 'literal sounds', 'plain situations', and 'symbolic resonance'.

    When I find a modest groove, I do a dance and smile in silence.


  10. My, you are slick with words. You had me right down to the widow's heart.....thrice!

  11. Lena,

    Welcome! And thank you for such good words.

    If I were slick, I'd be able to do this stuff on command. Can't. It's like all difficult things except I have to wait for it to form out of the mists of my subconscious as they evaporate in the sunshine of a well-rested me with time enough to scribble.

    I like your reaction, since it seems to vindicate my own judgment that this one 'kept tensile' from start to finish.

    When I feel I'm less than 'good', I know the weak spots, the suspicious sound of a -- what was that? -- minutely slipping gear.

    Trulyfool The Wordy

  12. Oh the love rumbles... leaving your heart in shambles

  13. Rene,

    Yes. That love may be rumbling away to somewhere else. I hadn't thought of that angle.


  14. Love the imagery taking me to the bitter coldness of winter days, warming the self with a mug of tea just dripped with honey.

  15. "..love rumbles into a stranger's

    chest like an off-road vehicle.." Very nice.

  16. For a long time, I've been here reading and re-reading this stunning piece. Maybe I should pay rent. One more delicious read, then I'll move on. Exquisite work!

  17. Reflections (Petrina),

    Thank you! I guess I have to beg off on the notion of 'bitter' cold, unless metaphorical. I'm a SoCal guy by upbringing, and mild Seattle, with its slightly wintery discharges seems bad to me.

    It ain't Chicago. (But I'm glad the suggestion took you to that sort of clime).


  18. Martin,

    Thanks for your kind reaction. I always hesitate to use 'love' since it's got to find some new place just softly to settle barely noticed so as not to scream its overuse.

    When it met up with the insistent, non-smooth phrase 'off-road vehicle', it seemed to fit like modern dance moves.


  19. Tumblewords,

    I never tire of praise since it is so hard to earn. Come back as many times as you like!

    Truly, the Fool

  20. great imagery and words- drool of honey indeed!

  21. kathew,

    Thank you! This one drew me from clock to kitchen. (And to break any 'spell', the honey was a new addition from a cold I recently had)

    I know Lake Oswego -- great suburb (don't mind my calling it that?) of Portland. Really nice area.