“Changes; or, Reveries at a Window Overlooking a Country Road, with Two Women Talking Blues in the Kitchen” is a two-columned jazz poem by Yusef Komunyakaa (from the New Poems section of 1994’s Neon Vernacular) that, like a great piece of jazz music, I get something more out of with every reading.
On the left side of the page, Mary and Eva Mae, friends from childhood, are “talking B-flat blues” in the kitchen, catching up on the (cheating) men and (loose) women they used to know. Meanwhile on the right, Mary’s grandson, “just dragged in / From God only knows where,” and “Nice as a new piece / of silk,” is thinking about jazz, all kinds of jazz from Philly Joe Jones to Billie Holiday to Charles Mingus to John Coltrane, and memory, and black culture, and the way thoughts move between them. The poems starts with an “A-one, two, three” of men’s names, “Joe, Gus, Sham . . . ” putting us in music territory from the start. Continue reading