He wanted to be called Jazz,
because he thought it sounded cool.
Hell, he knew it did.
But everyone just called him Leonard,
not Lenny or Len or Leo.
The cool guys at school didn’t even call him ‘Nard,
although they did amongst themselves.
The cool guys didn’t speak to him at all.
He played Jazz at Granmother’s house.
On the old turntable
listening to Parker and Mingus and Powell.
On the radio
tuning in a distant NPR program
when he could pick it up.
Hunting through dusty junk stores
to find a Doc Cheatham recording.
He wanted to blow horn or play piano,
but he was no good.
But Jazz had rhythm.
But yes. He did.
He banged out the rhythms.
Since he was little, beat was in his head.
Chickens…peck…peck peck peck…peck.
Leaky faucets…drip drip…drip.
The old lawnmover…rooom, chugga, pop pop pop, chugga pop.
Mixing bowl…whap whap whap, sliiiiip, whap whap whap.
He never played his rhythms for anyone,
just the chickens,
‘cause they called him Jazz.