Still Hearin’ That Swing

It was the big band era, lots of brass.
Billy whalin’ on the drums
while Johnny waited for his riff
makin’ the saxophone swing.

And me, standin’ on the riser
my long arms waitin’ too.
“Wing span of a hawk,” mama said.
Just the ticket for a trombone man.

Yeah, I could slide that brass,
hear the notes strong and clear.
No strings or keys,
just that long smooth glide.

And Mabel at the mic,
feathers clipped in henna dyed hair
sultry voice in the sweet spots.
Hips, always swingin’ to the beat.

Never made it big like Glenn,
but we had our gigs.
Glass of gin between sets
and smoke swirlin’ round our heads.

They’re all gone now.
Pawned my Tbone long time ago.
But sometimes, while I’m sittin’ here,
I can put myself back there again.

Close my eyes imaginin’ and start to sway,
feel Mabel lean in real close like she did.
I wheel this chair around a bit
and I can feel us back there again.
Swingin’ to that big band sound.


Rewritten a bit from an older post. Shared at OLN by reading aloud at our online dVerse pub event. dVerse is a virtual pub for poets around the globe – except that once a month we have a live Zoom-like gathering where we read aloud a poem and can actually see and hear the creators of all the words we’ve been sharing for so many years at this amazing virtual pub.

26 thoughts on “Still Hearin’ That Swing

  1. Ingrid October 29, 2020 / 4:45 pm

    I really enjoyed your performance of this poem, Lilian – I could hear that big band sound and you carried it off you well. Great fun, musical poetry!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 9:52 am

      Thank you so much, Ingrid. It’s really so much fun to see everyone and to hear their voices, after reading their words for so many years! I’m glad you enjoyed both the poem and my reading of it. I always wonder if I have the right “voice” to do the reading aloud. But for me, this one just had to carry the sounds and the feel of the big band era so I’m glad you thought it did!

      Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 9:53 am

      Thank you, Bjorn! I’m so glad you enjoyed. I never know if my reading is too much acting when it comes to a time to read poetry aloud. So your words here mean a lot! 🙂


  2. Ron. October 29, 2020 / 5:57 pm

    15 years in the classroom before I moved on & every time I announced the upcoming poetry-centered unit I got the same reaction from reluctant students that you spoke of tonight and, fortunately, also experienced the same positive outcome. After hearing you read & then reading it myself (out loud, of course) I pulled out my (antique) alto sax (which I haven’t accessed in ages) and blew a short solo, which brought My Beloved Sandra running in from the kitchen with a “What-The-F***” expression on her smiling face.

    I owe you, Sistah.

    Liked by 2 people

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 9:55 am

      Oh you just made my day, Ron!!!! I even read your comment aloud to my husband so thank you thank you thank you! 🙂 I never know if my reading poetry aloud is too much acting…I have a hard time keeping a serious voice in reading aloud….so your comment made me feel a-okay! 🙂


  3. robtkistner October 29, 2020 / 5:59 pm

    Great read today Lillian! How about choosing the word “music” for Monday? Just a thought… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 9:56 am

      Good thought! I’m going with a different word….but it certainly can applie to music and how music makes me feel! Glad you enjoyed the read.


  4. sanaarizvi October 29, 2020 / 6:19 pm

    This is absolutely gorgeous, Lillian 😀 there is such a lyrical quality to this one. 💝 Loved hearing you read tonight 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 9:57 am

      Thank you, Sanaa. In many ways, I think poetry is musical itself! And I guess even more so, when the poem is about music! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the read and the poem.


  5. rogblog666 October 29, 2020 / 6:35 pm

    sorry i missed the live meeting work got in the way. would have been good to see and hear some of the other poets of the dverse poets pub

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 9:59 am

      Actually, if you go back to the actual OLN post by Bjorn on the home page of dVerse, he recorded the live meeting so you can actually see and hear the readings. I absolutely LOVE connecting faces and voices with the words of people I’ve been reading for so many years. This poem, is much better read aloud…so if you want to hear me reading it aloud and give a short short explanation of what motivated it, you can see and hear me on the recording! 🙂 And others as well! Wish you had been there – maybe next time!


      • rogblog666 October 30, 2020 / 11:33 am

        If time alows i will hope to be there next time. I dhall have watch


  6. msjadeli October 30, 2020 / 12:13 am

    You did a great job of bringing the music of your poem to life today, Lill. I think young people are natural poets. I remember when I worked with the juvenile probationers. They often wrote poetry while being held in the detention center.

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 10:17 am

      That would be very interesting work . . . and worthwhile too! I can see that poetry allows people to get out their feelings….sometimes with outright words that slam into their realities….sometimes metaphorically. Putting pen to paper can be an amazing release.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. kim881 October 30, 2020 / 3:53 am

    I loved your performance, Lill, your voice and enunciation were perfect, and I love the poem. I’ve had the same experience when teaching poetry units. I did something similar with a group of boys who hated poetry until I found some about football that aroused their imaginations – after that I couldn’t stop them, and they wrote poems of their own. I even submitted some, which were published in an anthology.

    What I love about yours is all the action – I imagined the brass gleaming in the lights with the saxophone swinging, that long smooth glide, and Mabel – what a girl!

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 10:19 am

      Your comment makes me smile, Kim. I am certain you are a fabulous teacher!!! I have no doubt. It’s all about meeting young people at the corner of “this is important to me” and “I can see how this relates to me”. Glad you enjoyed the reading and the poem.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. merrildsmith October 30, 2020 / 6:58 am

    This poem is so full of sound and vivid images–and you really made it come alive with your reading! I could hear that music, and feel Mabel leaning in. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • lillian October 30, 2020 / 10:20 am

      Glad you enjoyed Merril. I’m always hesitant to read as I seem to find myself acting more than reading and I never know if that’s considered appropriate in poetry readings. So I’m glad to see your comment here! 🙂 Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      • merrildsmith October 30, 2020 / 1:42 pm

        Some people (and poems) are more theatrical than others. I think it’s fine to “act” if that’s your style.


  9. Helen Dehner October 30, 2020 / 12:23 pm

    I simply must hear this live ….. took me back to MY era, the 40s and 50s! “pawned my Tbone long time ago” (so sorry) still have my flute.


  10. Ali Grimshaw October 30, 2020 / 1:13 pm

    As a lifetime swing dancer, this poem made me smile with happy memories. Music has the power to take us places. This was delightful. Keep playing those big band favorites.


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