Poems on the fly from Spenard Jazz Festival, 2009

Seattle-Saginaw: The Reach of Theodore Roethke
Defiance Street
CIRQUE - Book Fair Signing - AWP
Blue Moon for Poets Reading
Poetry Parley
Poets in Winter - The Series
Alaska Poets in Winter ~ 2013
Alaska Poets in Winter ~ 2013 - Morgan
Alaska Poets in Winter ~ 2013 - Emily Wall
Live & Moving, 2012
Amazing M-P
Spenard Jazz Festival
Kleven as poet
Creative Process
Fremont Show
"Like This" -- in production
HeartWorks Press
HeartWorks Press Catalog
Mike's Vita
Aniak dances
Poems on the Fly 2010
Poem at Christmas - 2009
"To the Moon" - Roethke
Roethke Score
Roethke - Running commentary
Roethke Poetry
Roethke film - Raw footage
"To the Moon! Credits
Poster - The Making of Roethke tribute
T-Shirts and more for Roethke
Production Stills
"Plotting" Midnight Sun Cafe
Naked Seattle - Fremont Solstice
BHS Class of '63

Notes on the writing

Click the link above for Kleven's notes about writing poems "on the fly" at the Spenard Jazz Festival.  See her idea for a similar festival of poetry "Poetry -- Live and Moving" Below find some of the best of the poems written to request over the three day Spenard Jazz Festival, 2009.  

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Sandra Kleven writing on demand.  

The poems written, on the fly, for $1 a piece, at the Spenard Jazz Festival fell into three categories.  That is, after the first one, which stands alone.  The rest are roughly, babies, people at the Festival and universal themes.  These were read, with jazz back up, the final night of the festival. 




When we arrived on the morning of the third day, we discovered that my son’s car had been towed from the parking lot in the middle of the night. He was filming the event and all his equipment was in the car.  My poetry from the day before was also in the trunk.  This was resolved quickly (a few hours) with no charge, but while we pondered a $250 charge, I wrote the following:


Not as bad as a lot of things.

Not as bad, I suppose, 

as a serious burn in the kitchen, 

or a chimney fire. 

Not as bad as falling on ice, 

or falling off the stage. 

Not as bad as being slapped in the face 

with bad news. 

But it was bad news – 

a sickening car catastrophe. Not that bad.  

Not a wreck, no fatalities, not stolen, not that bad. 

 Towed.  Taken.  Gone. Absent. 

And we needed it, right now. 

Like a punch in the gut. 

About that bad.  That bad.   



(Who overuses the words bright, dark and darling?  

I don't know.  )



Child of Destiny


Little girl, your face, your grace,

your complex attributes

are yet to amaze us. 

And still we know you are star sent 

and remarkable. 

Unknown and yet

Somehow, we know you. 

Darlin,’ we know you. 


For Aurora at Nice Months

So much from such pretty eyes –

looking out through eons, eras,

peeking through 

melodies to this fresh moment. 

Aurora sun adventurer, 

landed here on my knee, in my heart. 

Unafraid, beguiled, beguiling. 

Alaska girl.  Alaska dream.  A darling. 


            Little spirit traveler

What seas are you crossing on your way to us? 

Do you wander spiral galaxies as we await the day. 

Can you feel our eager hearts, 

the touch of loving hands? 

Leave the celestial music now, 

And come, little boy, home to us. 





Is there a color, could I guess

Or one note, one chord for you? 

Would I start in deep, dark tones of 

purple minor chords? 

Or bright, cheery notes 

to signify one more time? 

Always one more time.  

With feeling. 


Carl and the Clarinet


Such history to be found in that 

hot black stick of yours. 

Back to Benny Goodman 

and the big bands. 

And tonight you bring the 

bright cacophony to a new day

and breathe tomorrow’s

  unchained melodies. 


For Pete and Vickie


Wind moans through hollow trees 

and the night, still light, defies time. 

Then morning bird-song so reckless with hope, 

with improvisational abandon. 

And here you are with me, 

enduring, unsettling, 

exciting, mine.


For Denise


Make no mistake about it,

she has known trouble

but when you see her at dawn,

leaving prints in sand to gather,

flotsam, shells and bright coral,

you will notice only her hands,

generous and cool. 

And when she touches you,

the world changes.  




Pleasure of Life

How to distill the pleasure of life,

And wear it like a perfume? 

A little from loving, some from the rose,

A little from nectar, a little from you.

The feel of a hot tub, 

the smell of baked bread,

Or when I’ve finished mending 

with needle and thread.

When the cop drives right passed me,

or the radio plays a song once my favorite

How once blind, now I see. 

The pleasure of knowing, my life is my own

Knowing you love me and 

how we have grown. 


Consider the Whirlwind


And then look at me,

one child of the universe 

alive with electric possibility. 

Consider the infinite you’ll see it in me:

a dancing diva bathed in pure light. 

Not quite the usual, no problem. 

Tame the hurricane 

then relax into the force. 


On Breathing


They say the Milky Way is not expanding. 

It pulses they say, as if they knew. 

What if it were breathing? 

Long yoga breaths, 

to mark millennia, time out of time. 

And when I open my window 

and gaze at the night sky,

I breathe and the sky breathes too.


Look at this. 


It is a tapestry of darks and brights. 

It moves, swirling, glowing, sounding –

a beauty that catches in your throat. 

Look closer and you’ll see it all –

every step, every miss-step, every fall. 

And when a new day beaks and

the rosy light of dawn spills over it –

every catastrophe, 

every tear 

Shapes the bright and makes it dance.   

Poems on demand at the Spenard Jazz Fest - Sandra L Kleven 


3978 Defiance Street

Anchorage, Alaska 99504

Link to CIRQUE @ AWP