My Own Voice


It's fun to start a poem with an untruth.

There comes a time

even the most gifted, renowned, creative and dedicated player realizes

jazz is a young man’s game.

You are no longer young.

Your last night

you get to the club early, alone in the room away from the stage,

maintaining distance from that place where the magic begins

trying to capture the audience experience, the one piece

that was not yours to know.

You carry your horn to the edge of the stage, like on the thousands of nights in thousands of clubs, pouring your soul through the bell

into the audience, some nights fire, some nights ice,

some the sound dodged the two-three patrons in the room and bounced off the back wall in march time, some so crowded the notes had to squeeze between patrons.

But those random Mondays and Tuesdays, when the audience was into it, no matter how small,

the nights when everybody was on the ride, tasting the notes just like you did,

those were the nights you played hardest, would play for free,

lips bruised on the mouthpiece to coax the golden note never reached before.

You walk onto the stage, put your horn case in its accustomed place,

and gesture to the bartender.

There will be no special moments, the only legends or celebrities those from the past crowding your head as you put all the nights, all the notes into the horn.

Tonight you gather everything that trickled out over the decades,

and empty yourself as you did on thousands of nights in thousands of clubs.

Tonight you drive the performance, set the crimson or indigo mood.

But that is for later, in the moment, in the zone. The moment decides.

You take the horn out of the case, and flutter your fingers above the valves.

You are ready.

the poet klkz


the poet klkz scribble furiously

capture thoughts ideas

thoughts move faster than hand

lose thoughts

hope Gabriel come back

meanwhile klkz recycle ideas thoughts

poets ask klkz why he still write

using paper pen pencil

machines so much better

clear legible easily changed

klkz say not good for klkz

klkz scribble faster than type

already losing thoughts ideas

already changing so many words

no space on paper

klkz must puzzle out best word

but likes to see choices

sometimes old original better

machine help where klkz

neither wants needs help.

cold morning
  by the poet klkz

first cold morning

crisp dew on grass

Mz Tillis next door get ready for work

run car get toasty warm inside

wipe water from windows

make car safe

mist float from tailpipe form big clouds

slow rise mix with slanted light from morning sun

caught in branches with bright red maple leaves

Mz Tillis zoom off

can't be late

take cloud along for ride

show over

good start to day.

alien plant

Saturday Morning Poem

It seemed like a good idea at the time.


What are human beings,

The great philosopher asked,

“But little bags

Of thinking water

Held up briefly

By fragile accumulations

Of calcium?”

Not the type of thing to read

Just before bed on a Friday night,

Following a heavy meal.

No amount of antacid will compensate

And relieve the anxious moments

In the morning.

But that’s the thing

About the great philosophers.

They creep up unawares,

And after messing with

Thoughts and sleep,

Slip off in a cloak of confusion,

Ruining an otherwise

Perfectly good Saturday morning.

A Seasonal Poem

Stacking Wood

A friend of a friend

Kindly left

A part cord of firewood

At the end of the drive,

Doing both of us a favor,

I'm sure.

I look at the disordered stack,

Considering how to move it

To the shed behind the house.

The old wheelbarrow tips and wobbles

On every small dip and stone

In the drive.

Carrying is best.


I collect six logs,

A comfortable load,

And begin the walk

To the shed.

About a dozen trips, I estimate,

Enough to think about

Important things.

The price of milk

The cold in the depth of winter,

The neighbor's apple harvest,

The next book to read,

My grandparents,

My sister's birthday,

My daughter's birth,

How close, how far important things are

In space and time.

Insignificant to others, perhaps,

But large in my life.

Food for thought

In a quiet time.

Leaves fallen from the trees,

The ground not yet covered in snow.

A moment before slow withdrawal

To the interior and the long sleep.

The tree I carry

No longer concerns itself

With the seasons,

With ebb and flow,

With leafing out in the spring.


My father built the open shed

That protects the wood

From the elements.

He was a young man then.

I balance the logs on one arm

As I carefully place the logs

Next to the seasoned wood

So it can begin to cure.

It will provide warmth and sustenance.


We will stare into the yellow flames

Two or three winters from now,

Thinking of all the paths,

All the people,

That brought us to this point.

I begin the walk

To collect the next load.

If only our own cures were as easy

And peaceful as the wood's, I think.

I stoop and begin to collect

The second armful of wood.

Random Thought

Should surprise be added

to death and taxes

in the list of inevitabilities?


Stonington, ME

Random Thought

A life without surprise

is a life without the risk

of instant heart failure,


heart failure is always a surprise,

so there's no such thing as

a life without surprise,

whether heart failure happens or not.


Another mental perpetual motion machine

I do not need.

TomatoPlanet!! is a random collection of writing, cartoons, and things that skew toward the absurd. It's funny, or at least I think so. © 2003-2021, John McCarthy

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