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C.N.P Poetry 

  • Writer's pictureCathexis Northwest Press

So What; Po-pomo; On the Hunt

By: Dave Jilk

So What

Evening breezes dab the deck and

whisper warm greetings to my cheeks;

a faraway horse chortles over cool

standards of the Jimmy Cobb Quartet.

Jimmy passed away the other day.

He was ninety-one,

still a swinging drummer,

never a showboat,

didn’t do smack,

accompanied the greats

and was one of them.

At length the album ends;

just after, it’s a jam session in birdland:

robins chirp, larks warble,

blackbirds whistle. Frogs in the pond

thrum a cymbal rhythm;

like Cannonball, Miles, and ‘Trane

entering all at once,

a confident chickadee

pipes up “so what” right in tune,

in a key that’s kind of blue –

our turn, Jimmy, we’re remembering you.


Begone! An inchling bristles in these pines

—Wallace Stevens, “Bantams in Pine-Woods”

he and his hoos are back

that ecumenical rooster

Brobdingnagian still

pissed about the body-shaming

we had our time

his personal usurps our world

maudlin and muddy

an insufferable sufferer of umber

he earnestly tramples

the oppressive pipsqueaks

On the Hunt

Hearty dianthus

festoons her wrist,

sanguine countenance

garnished by a bow

of ample vermilion.

A snowy rose graces his lapel.

Beaming mien

plunges into shadow;

lips pinch pink

as she plucks his eyes

with a glance.

The hart flees blind and bleeding.


Dave Jilk has self-published two books of poems: Rejuvenilia (2018) and Distilled Moments (2020). His work has appeared in The Avocet: A Journal of Nature Poetry, and won first prize in the Samuel Eells Literary & Educational Foundation graduate competition in both 2017 and 2018.

So What is the opening track on the 1959 Miles Davis album Kind of Blue, the best-selling jazz album of all time and widely considered one of the most influential albums of any genre. Jimmy Cobb is the drummer on that album. My poem “So What” describes with rough fidelity the autobiographical moment that motivated it: shortly after listening to one of Cobb’s later albums, I heard a chickadee’s “fee-bee” song and realized it was the same relative interval as in the central riff of So What.

The coincidence prompted me to learn more about Cobb, and after doing so it became clear that I would make the poem a tribute to him and his contribution to music. Along with more transparent details, the poem alludes to two of his albums and the fact that he played at New York’s famed Birdland jazz club.

But a partially complete poem can pull in its own direction. This one got me thinking about mortality, legacy, and what makes for a good life. Those thoughts are reflected in word choices, line and stanza breaks, the title if read ironically, and an echo of Wallace Stevens.


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