Ben Goldberg, “A Rhythmia”

We’ve seen no shortage of smart attempts to bring jazz and poetry into dialogue, but Good Day For Cloud Fishing, the fine new album by clarinetist Ben Goldberg, ups the ante. It was inspired by the poems of Dean Young, whose works builds on the bold illogic of Surrealism and the hip jocularity of the New York School.

But Goldberg went beyond writing a series of pieces inspired by Young poems. When he went into the studio with two regular compatriots, Ron Miles on cornet and Nels Cline on guitar, he also invited Young to join them. The poet sat with a typewriter, dashing off new poems in response to the music he heard. So the album comes with inserts featuring “Entry” and “Exit” poems for each track, prompting reflection on the magic of inspiration, and the mystery of translation.

The “Entry” for Track 4 is a poem titled “A Rhythmia,” which led Goldberg to compose a minor-key ditty with a Monkish bridge, in shades of blue.

A Rhythmia

A mallet stops a horserace.

There is a dwarf in my face.

I rewind emptiness.

It rains in my raincoat.

A glance of glitter dislodges

Every cornea.

And here is the “Exit” poem, “Ornithology,” which highlights Young’s wit — along with his taste for bebop.


See that smoke? It’s a person.

See that funny stick thing?

That’d be me lucky to be wherever

here is. Me and my spine.

Me and my billion neurons.

The sky helps. How it’s invented

in a basement and that struggling

arm in my arm hair? Just acting lost

to make me feel better about myself.

Poems printed with permission. Good Day For Cloud Fishing is out now on Pyroclastic Records.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive our latest news and updates.

You have Successfully Subscribed!