Tuesday Poem’s Communal ‘Jazz’ Poem: Scratch, revisited

This poem was first published on the Tuesday Poem Hub on Tuesday April 23rd 2013. It was our third birthday.


When looking back
choose your mirror well

This memory, I know, is less like a recording
and more like Chinese whispers
but still I replay it

Who scratched, who scratched,
who scratched this surface?
lined rep-rep

Is it you, Lily, hiding again
behind white linen corners of the laundry line?
Your oboe voice criss-crossing time
then snapping back on the wind

Her voice stumbles into silence
glasses the sea’s surface to mirror
the bright burning Sumatran tiger sky
stretching, snapping, scratching and
reeling out the spool of memory

Yes! It is you, Tiger Lily, it is you!
Come, reach for me, speak to me in tongues of memories
unlatch the thunder from this silence
unwind me, remind me when it was

catch the
it’s time to
(latch the window)
catch the 
grab it! the tail     oh boy

Miss Lily’s a teaser
Miss Lily’s a cat
don’t try to appease her
she’ll disappear fast —

boy in the dark, when Lily come back
from powdering her nose and
brushing whiskers,
take his chance. Lily purr smoke in his face
inside the last dance

follow the glance, the shoulder
the line of breath held in and out
we’ve only scratched the surface
of what this dance could unwind

there’s the trombone girl
kicking through a drift of notes,
Death dancing with the boy
in black while way out the back
they’re dealing in words – Miss Lily
doubles down.

Breathe, Lily, the air is rising
the meter fresh out of ivory notes
– tickled –
and so easily plucked.
Tonight we go hunting.

Oh boy. Inside the last dance
dealing, doubling, doubting
and hunting for what?
Always more, Lily. Always more
smooth moves, music, conundrums,

Who can catch this cat?
Whispers in the mirror,
whiskers in the window,
a smoking piano, a shuddering key?

(piano) tip toe (forte) oh! Bow
across whiskery strings.
Trombone conundrum
metronome roams
memory ticks back the days.

Little stalker, true lily, night
bloomer, what will you bring me?
Lily among the thorns, lovely
looking-glass nectary, roaming
the corners, Liliales, O Lilium,
I’ll catch, catch, catch you yet.

Late night bloomer. Hunter stalker.
Sinuosity’s slick slink sliding. His mirrored length
a memory’s pause.                             Zapateado
flick of flamenco, heels’ percussion.       Gracias!
Miss Lily a cat?  No way.

Trombone slides towards silence.
Passing chords diminish
forte to piano.
Twitch of a departing tail: one final
brush across the drums.


The poets who took part in the above poem are as follows. The number matches the verse they wrote.

1. Harvey Molloy  2. Helen Rickerby 3. P.S. Cottier 4. Michelle Elvy 5. Andrew M. Bell 6. Keith Westwater 7. Mary McCallum 8. T. Clear 9. Rethabile Masilo 10. Renee Liang 11. Catherine Bateson 12. Alicia Ponder 13. Claire Beynon 14. Janis Freegard 15. Saradha Koirala 16. Eileen Moeller 17. Helen Mckinlay 18. Tim Jones

I  am posting this as a reminder of the great communal effort which has gone into Tuesday Poem from thirty poets around the world since it began in April 2010 and still it keeps on going. The editors made this comment on our first birthday…Like all good blogs and websites, Tuesday Poem functions because its members are generous with that thing they love. It’s been extraordinary the stimulation, warmth, support and fun generated by this wide-flung group of people, many of whom have never met.

To read about how the third birthday poem was achieved go to the original post of the poem on the TP Hub page here

You can return to the Tuesday Poem Hub page here . This week’s editor is Jennifer Compton.