Reviews & Opinions

Two poems by Chuck Joy.
Elevation & Love Is The Answer



a state sometimes attained through music
I’ve seen too many poetry careers
dissolved into syrup by happiness

and love? Love can fly the lover
across the ocean, that’s pretty high

religion, its ritual
worship, lanky families, elderly couples, singles
breathing easily, appropriately solemn
contemplating, sometimes singing

sports, any exercise
running the balcony track around that nineteenth-century gym
or playing with a basketball whenever Derrick’s back in town
sometimes simply following a team’s success

food and wine are good but be careful
pleasures derived from substances are dangerous
you can pour yourself into them
even coffee, even especially cheesecake

socializing is a riot
the right combination of other human beings
can keep your head spinning for days

sometimes music plays
cats on a bandstand, drums and bass
the front man blowing a saxophone
crowd packed tight across the dancefloor
everybody moving together
heads bobbing, hips shaking



playing a trumpet is one thing
a beautiful thing, pure sound
pleasing frequencies, licked and stuttered
silk sweet tone, a sunrise, a revelation
a certain presence, maybe a flat hat
a brown suit

the living in poverty, oblivious
to the cold, crying children
always wearing sleeveless tee-shirts
practicing for hours in a warehouse

Jazzfollowing the trumpet life
the late nights, various gigs
some upfront, solo after solo
others deep background, barely discernable
the occasional interview
the odd meetings, often at coffeeshops
private parties


playing a trumpet is one thing
quite another driving, in traffic
trumpet playing the farthest thing from your mind
how many more hours to master just a few notes?
that mind crowded with echoes
from relationships, workplace occurrences

the day bright, clear, no clouds, all blue
except for the shadow from September Eleventh
a Cube ahead, a truck beside
inside, satellite radio, playing Todd Rundgren
Love Is The Answer, and suddenly
a tide is rising, rushing in, flooding the waterfront shallows
filling the inlet, reversing its current
pouring upstream, into the vehicle
up from the floor, pressing the doors, open the windows!


Chuck JoyChuck Joy

A man of many hats, Chuck Joy, M.D. is a psychiatrist, JazzErie board member, and author, Poetry Evangelist extraordinaire. His poems have appeared in magazines & on TV. He's the host of Poetry Scene, at the Erie Book Store. Chair of Erie County Pennsylvania's Poetry Committee. Co-chair ofthe Art Committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry; and producer, director. poet, All Aboard, the Erie Playhouse. (Photo thank to Belinda Subraman's Gypsy Art Show blog.)

He heads the Chuck Joy Trio, which now performs periodically at Poets’ Hall, 1136 East Lake Rd., Erie. The trio features Chuck Joy, “vocals,” reading original poems from his most recent book “Fun Poetry,” selections from “Dreamville,” and poems originally published in JazzErie’s News Notes.  He is accompanied by Dick Thompson, bass, and Nick Ronzitti, percussion.

Poets’ Hall, located just a few blocks beyond East High School, is one of the venues filling the gap created in Erie’s poetry community by the closing of the old Erie Bookstore.  The joining of poetry and music, associated in many of our minds with the ’50’s coffeehouse  scene, in fact has a long and rich tradition extending to contemporary venues such as New York’s Cornelia Street Café, where poetry and jazz giants meet, mix and perform.

December 6, 2011