April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM). This story is based on the lyrics of the great Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and the weekly photo prompt provided by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for Friday Fictioneers.

Photo Copyright: Lauren Moscato

Photo Copyright: Lauren Moscato

I’ll live a lush
Life in some small dive
And there I’ll be
While I rot with the rest
Of those whose lives are lonely too

– Billy Strayhorn, “Lush Life”


by Jan Brown

The only thing I got in the divorce was a small jazz bar in a rather dubious neighborhood. It was aptly called “Hole in the Wall,” but most people just called it “The Hole.”

There is a feeling, when you walk in the door, that you’ve entered another universe, a dank, dingy world where there is so much darkness and pain that your own personal problems seem less ominous in comparison.

He still visits on weekends when I sing, despite the restraining order. Last night, he looked so old, so smashed, so irretrievably sad. And then he pulled the gun.


You can read other Fictioneers’ stories here, and even add your own.

You can learn more about Jazz Appreciation Month by visiting their  Facebook page.

As an extra added bonus for reading this far, here is Lady Gaga’s very luscious version of “Lush Life.” Enjoy!

NaPoWriMo 17 – Morning Song

Today’s NaPoWriMo challenge is to write a poem that provides a detailed description of something using at least three of the five senses. It’s recommended that we describe something we encountered or experienced today.

Morning Song

by Jan Brown

morning feels like the aftermath of an assault
surely someone had attacked her knees and hips
while she fitfully slept
perhaps an angry debt collector
a sour-faced enforcer or
a fundraiser for the arthritis foundation
wielding a baseball bat

the acrid odor of stale sweat
another reminder of the night’s
pain and thrashing
gives way to the sweetness
of lavender body wash
doesn’t smell at all like lavender
still it’s delicate and flowery
giving purpose to the wisps of steam
that reorganize the kinks in her tendons

taste buds waken against their will
to the dry minty medication
that melts in her mouth
as advertised
a dozen more pills
to wash down with breakfast
she gives thanks to whichever greek god
created fat-free yogurt
and all the tiny morsels of mango
that lurk at the bottom of the plastic cup

she greets the world outside her window
seasonal colors waiting to be seen
but doesn’t come alive
until she hears the morning’s song
a harmonious cacophony of birds
going about the business of a warm spring day
the rhythm of lawn mowers and leaf blowers
the whistle of the train
the soulful latin jazz refrain
morning’s almost gone
but her song remains



NaPoWriMo 9 – Stella by Starlight

The National Poetry Writing Month challenge for today is to randomize or shuffle your favorite playlist, write down the next five song titles, and use them in a poem. I used the jazz playlist on my iPhone. The specific titles and artists appear below the poem, as well as a live performance of one of the songs. Enjoy!

Stella by Starlight

by Jan Brown

he plays salsa music all night long
then dances at the after-hours club
the beat of the conga
reminds him of home
where he and his sweet
danced in the moonlight
strumming his hands on her body
like the chords of his bandola
but he’s a long way from home
and Marianela

so he dances with Stella by starlight
hiding the gold ring in his pocket
the music shifts into slow gear
and they begin a dance with no steps
tired feet riveted in place
softly swaying as one
her backless dress inviting
his naked left hand
to trace the curve of her spine
and press her to him
as they listen to blues
for the night owl

The playlist includes:

Stella by Starlight – Stan Getz

Marianela – Arturo Sandoval

Conga (Revisited) – Arturo Sandoval

Blues for the Night Owl – Ramsey Lewis

Gold – Hugh Masekela