Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beat-Bop Jazz

for Richie Powell

Lookin’ for a hat all beat up and torn
Lookin’ for a bed that ain’t never been worn

Up and down the highways, up and down the dial
Drivin' in the rain for a drink and a smile

Navigatin' barrooms — dancin’ in saloons
Hearin’ me some beat-bop jazz rhythm toons

Go! Go! Go! Sweaty fingers snap
Got to get down off this benzedrine slap

Harder faster — crackin’ walls of plaster
She’s half cut, think I’m gonna chance her

Abandon our morals at the bedpost of ruin
Hearin' me a nice beat-bop jazz rhythm toon

— Mark Butkus

Beat-Bop Jazz is inspired by the short life of bebop jazz pianist Richie Powell. Born this day in 1931, Richie died along with his wife Nancy and band-mate Clifford Brown while driving between gigs in June 1956.


  1. smooth...i can hear the music behind this one...
    sounds like a cool cat to me...ha...smiles

    you should def sing this...

  2. jazzy write, Mark! the music is clear and fine-tuned here...

  3. I love the beat-bop jazz rhythm toon ~ Nice cadence when I am reading this aloud ~ Enjoyed your couplets Mark ~

  4. The rhyme scheme got me thinking about scat lyrics, blues & jazz for sure. Took me awhile to accept "beat-bop"; had never heard that specific term for bebop. Probably my ignorance, but did you mean "tune" rather than "toon", or was that another part of the jazz vernacular I missed out on?

    1. Yes! You are right on all counts Glenn! Though I wrote it as toon It's intended to be read as tune and not to be confused with Bugs Bunny and his ilk. Beat-Bop/BeBop took liberties with music and in keeping with the theme I took liberties phonetically with spelling and dropping the "g" to fit with the rhythm of the piece.

  5. I'll be looking for this one on the radio soon :)

  6. Great beat in your poem, Mark. This life on the road is something that seems to have disappeared.

  7. cracking walls of plaster... you def. capture the energy of this music style... very cool mark

  8. Very nice beat to this - soo jazzy that I can hear it sung - definitely has that adventure inside as well.

  9. I could feel the beat, hear the tune, so vivid is your writing.

  10. Interesting..Beat-Bop Jazz as expressed here.. in wild words of life.. remind me of the freeing spirit.. of the days of poetry introduced by Jack Kerouac and others in words of the middle of last century..

    and interesting while i can certainly dance and do photography even wilder than this... to express poetic elements of life ALMOST more than fully free....if such a thing exists...

    i still am somewhat reserved in words.. and can't really get into the nitty gritty.. as in that way.. i am not yet TRULY free in words...

    i suppose i should try it.. and i'm sure i could do it.. but i guess i must value the few somewhat true.. Facebook metaphor.. i've got left in life.. at least as long...

    as i'm married..:) AND don't TRULY hit the open road.. of song.. dance.. and poetry JUNGLE of life...;)

  11. Uber groovy piece- loved the rollicking rhythm! Love- "Go! Go! Go! Sweaty fingers snap /
    Got to get down off this benzedrine slap"

  12. your poem truly has a wonderful beat..

  13. Love the pic of damaged piano key...imagine a lot of jazz blues players used them even though they were damages and out of tune..

  14. I rally like the beat of your poem. Very readable. Never heard of Richie Powell but so sad about his untimely death.