the Sunday Poem: Don McIver... Take Five

Dave Brubeck's death this week was a sad milepost of sorts.  So many loved his music and played his Time Out album over and over.  Brubeck's piano and Paul Desmond's lilting sax are instantly recognizable, but it is the rhythm of the thing that really sets it apart.  Dave Brubeck once said, “One of the reasons I believe in jazz is that the oneness of man can come through the rhythm of your heart. It’s the same anyplace in the world, that heartbeat. It’s the first thing you hear when you’re born — or before you’re born — and it’s the last thing you hear.”

Don McIver is poetry co-ordinator for Sunday Chatter.  This is the third poem in McIver's series inspired and accompanied by classic jazz pieces that we have had the honor to publish.

Take Five

        for Dave Brubeck (December 6, 1920-December 5, 2012)
I couldn’t “take five,” Dave.
So when I heard the news,
I took what, by subtraction, turned into to two point five.
Hours…off, then came marching home in 9/8 time and put on Blue Rondo a la Turk,
which seemed even more fitting than the tune this poem is named about
I wanted to “take five,” Dave,
but the day was already past its prime,
the time signature of the work day winding down,
as the accolades and life summaries
begin to scroll across my screen.
I tried to remember the first time I heard this tune…
Strangely I can’t tell you when,
but know when I put it on last year that I’d known this tune for what, now, seems like forever.
This tune is some memory that is not attached to place or time, but is always there.
As if my father’s playing this, which he claims a kinship too, all the time when I was growing up just lodged itself in my craw like some musical barnacle
and waited, waited some forty years for me to pry it free and check it out.
“Oh…that song.  I never knew its name or who it was,”
I’m listening to Eugene Wright slide along the bass and Joe Morello on drums,
Paul  Desmond just cuts loose; like he does when Take Five starts to play now
queued up and playing through.
There’s a strange place this tune occupies as well;
A faint memory of it always being there and me not knowing it,
not really caring cause I was young and wild and, at times, free.

        December 5, 2012

Click here for the YouTube video of Take Five.

Poetry submissions are welcome.  Email

Views: 136

Comment by Margaret Randall on December 9, 2012 at 2:02pm

Don, I love all these jazz poems. In this one I especially love the last line: "young and wild and, at times, free." For some strange reason, when I heard about Brubeck's death I was moved that he and I shared a birthday... Strange, what things can move a person.

Comment by Rich Boucher on December 10, 2012 at 3:49pm

"....and, at times, free."

Love this closing bit. Great poem. You stuck the landing sweetly on this one, Don. 

Comment by Don McIver on December 10, 2012 at 4:22pm

Thanks all.


Comment by Teresa Gallion on December 11, 2012 at 8:13am

Well said tribute Don.


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