Jason CraneJason Crane was born in Lenox, Massachusetts. He’s a jazz broadcaster and writer. He’s a husband and father. And he rides a bicycle.

Jason hosts the online jazz interview show The Jazz Session, featuring in-depth interviews with jazz musicians from around the world. The Jazz Session is presented by AllAboutJazz.com, the Web’s leading source for jazz news, reviews, mp3 downloads and more.

POEMS

 

RED TRUCK ELEGY

Dozer, the beefy black lab, wants into the car
he sniffs the air, scenting my son’s watermelon lollipop

just a few feet away sits our red truck, silent, flashers on
a gift from my dad, it’s different from the red truck

my wife and her baseball team would cram into the bed of
back in Oregon, after the game, going to get ice cream

this red truck is smaller, though it’s hauled its share of wood
the bottom is rusted, looking like something you should

discover with a submarine while searching the ocean floor
I performed my only successful automotive surgery on this truck

using the last wire coat hanger in the world to wire up
the muffler and tailpipe, which were grinding against the axle

my dad couldn’t have done much better, because he
doesn’t know anything about cars or trucks either, despite

being much better versed in practical things than I am
and more comfortable with getting his hands dirty

John flits around the garage, moving from mechanic to Dozer
to the two lazy German shepherds who lie at the feet

of an elderly couple on the garage’s only two chairs
eating submarine sandwiches and adding to the local flavor

if the truck is dead, we’ve decided not to resuscitate it
we’ll just cut the cord that anchors it to us and let it sink into memory

captured in the occasional photograph, just like its bigger brother
with my father-in-law’s head poking into the flower-packed bed

I’ve heard enough stories about that truck that it looms in my created past
almost as large as he does, gone just after I met him, gone too soon

this truck, though, was here just long enough to carry us to the top of the hill
and now we’ll walk down the other side on our own

 

THE LAST PIECE OF ICE UNDER THE SKY

There would be no point in climbing this mountain,
not even to speak to the wise man at its summit.
He has no answers, no solutions. He is merely old,
and that’s no achievement when you live on a mountaintop.

There are two men trapped at the bottom of a deep well.
Were they to assist one another, it is possible they could escape.
Instead they choose to urinate on one another, destroying
their supply of drinkable water and ensuring they remain trapped.

The wise man can see the mouth of the well from where he sits,
because years ago a climber with no money gave him, as payment,
a powerful set of Zeiss Classic 20×60 binoculars, strong enough
to turn a busy colony of ants into a whirling dervish of people.

By the time the climber had reached the base of the mountain,
he’d realized that the binoculars were more valuable than
anything the old man had said, but the thought of re-scaling the peak
turned his stomach to ash and filled his mouth with regret.

Turning northward, the old man can see the last piece of ice under the sky.
Upon it sit two polar bears, and between them on the ice is
the last fish from the water, their final sustenance. Inevitably,
they tear one another in two, rather than the fish, their blood staining the ice.

None of that really happened, did it? asks the filmmaker on the summit.
He’s come to make a documentary about the old man, to record his wisdom
for a decadent, unenlightened age. But the filmmaker is an unbeliever,
refusing to accept what he can see through the camera’s unblinking eye.

The old man smiles and extends the binoculars, offering
the filmmaker a closer look at the world-as-it-is, as it, in fact, must be.
The filmmaker shakes his head sadly, packs his camera back into its case,
and begins the slow climb back to the foot of the mountain.

He reaches the bottom and passes the well where the two men are still trapped,
their lack of drinking water also meaning a lack of urine for their battle.
The filmmaker thinks he hears moaning from the bottom of the well and almost
goes to look. But refusing to believe his ears, he turns and walks away.

 

SIXTY-SEVEN UNOPENED VIDEOCASSETTES

Thirty years and fifty percent of my DNA
have brought me to a double-wide with a steep driveway,
tucked away in an enclave of trailers not far from the iron banks of the Ohio River.
She asks me to call her “nanna” because all the children do.
He’s missing most of his teeth – waiting for a new set of dentures.
I have no hook on which to hang this porch conversation,
this three-decade history lesson and game of tag.
So we talk about tobacco farming, long-haul trucking,
and spying on the Russians from within a cigar tube deep beneath the Mediterranean.
I learn about great-uncles and great-aunts and an extra uncle,
only to learn that money and land and other tragedies have driven wedges into this family, too.
I want to walk into the dining room like Antwone Fisher,
but the table is given over to Charlie Brown and Linus –
Christmas decorations awaiting transfer to their holiday destination.
There are sixty-seven unopened Star Trek videocassettes,
a bathroom crammed with history books,
lighters from the Navy,
a robe almost like the one I wear,
and an old shaving cup with a worn brush.
No matter what happens, I’ve erased the most terrible vision –
awaiting the end with the moisture of regret dampening my cheeks.
“The next time you come, darlin’, we’ll have chicken and dumplings.”

 

AT MR. FROST’S

Bathed in
autumn
sunlight
on a
table rock
in the fallow field
behind
Robert Frost’s
stone house,
I’m reminded
of the poet’s
advice
to not press
the poems
too hard.
Sometimes sunlight
is just that,
and fallow fields
need only
sun, seeds,
water
and time.