20 Lines A Day

A Community of Writers and Photographers

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Riding Up to Harlem

Riding up to Harlem in a silver chariot.

Hustling & Bustling during a season of busy “cheer”.

A child laughs, a mother cries and I see the city reflected in a hobo’s eyes.

As I exit the train I hear Jazz musicians serenading commuters running by.

I hear a world of renaissance that has passed me by.

I think of this village called Harlem and feel the spirits of greats pass me by.

Can I add a stroke of paint to this village mural and contribute beauty with ashes?

125th Street Subway Station Mural in Harlem



When I checked my email this morning I had the coolest surprise. Back on March 7, I had written a poem titled “The Jazz Pianist (To Bob Milne).” Several of you even commented on it, which was very nice.

This morning, however, there was another comment, and you’ll never guess who it was from. Yep, Bob Milne himself. He said, “Oh my goodness. I had no idea anyone had done this. Yes, I played concerts three days after carpal tunnel surgery. Your poem is wonderful. Thank you. Bob Milne.”

Can you imagine that? Of course I responded. My question is…how in the world would he have seen this, even though it’s almost seven months later? I’m so curious.

At any rate, it’s exciting for me to know that he read the poem I wrote about his fantastic performance.


Come, listen to the wailing saxophone,
see jazz musician sitting on the street.
A group might gather or one all alone
drags notes into the subway station’s heat.
The humid air is broken with the notes
that emanate from his brass horn, like quotes
around important words. How he can play!
If I weren’t in a hurry, I would stay.




All of Us

Italian, German, Yugoslav or Greek,
a president or queen, a shah or sheik,
professional, blue-collar, we all work
together, retail buyer or the clerk.

Perhaps we’re at the sunrise of our lives.
But sinking sunset color soon arrives
for all. We’re equal on that playing field
and it no longer matters if we reeled

in fish or cooked and served them up gourmet.
Are you a CEO? Does potter’s clay
appeal to you? Are you a fan of rock
or jazz? Do you live on a city block

or in the countryside? Is Marc Chagall
your own artistic taste, or do you fall
toward Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup cans? Does
it matter? No, our world would be a-buzz

with peace if we would tear down all the walls
of artificiality. No brawls,
just justice, friendship, courage, even hope
would paint our scenery, our vision’s scope.



Yesterday when my grandchildren were here I gave my granddaughter her piano lesson, but my grandson said, “Grandma, could I not have anything new this week since I’m going to be gone all week?” I said, “Sure,” understanding that he will be at Boy Scout Leadership Camp for the week.

“But,” he said, “I can give you a lesson if you want.”

And he showed me how to use Spotify on the computer to create playlists of music. What I noticed while he was doing this was his expert ability in helping me to understand the intricacies of Spotify, and his patience. He allowed me to try everything out so that, as he said, “When I’m not here you’ll be able to do it.” He was a wonderful teacher, and I complimented him on that.

Last night around 4 AM I woke up with severe lower right leg pain and was surprised to see swelling and bruising there. The pain was so intense I had to get up and move around. Eventually I found myself at the computer. Guess what I was doing? I made playlists of piano music, “favorites” (Beach Boys, Elvis, and the like), Christian, Enya, My Fair Lady, and added to my jazz playlist, and it was fun. At the moment I’m listening to piano music as I write. It’s so relaxing and nice to write to musical accompaniment.

And it’s a reminder of the sweetness of yesterday when my grandson was in his element teaching me.



English: White and purple hyacinths

Image via Wikipedia

I thought Melissa’s poem on “Moderation” was so original that I decided to write a poem after the same idea. I hope you don’t mind, Melissa. “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” (Charles Caleb Colton) I liked her poem very much and hope I can attain her standard with “Excellence.”



Prime rib, a cheese fondue, some brand-new shoes,
those chocolate-coated strawberries, and jazz:
I hold these things in high regard. Topaz,
and amethyst, brave soldiers, front-page news

without disaster, criminals, or war,
the lilacs and the hyacinths of spring–
these treasures scatter diamonds as they bring
such satisfaction. I do not need more.


The Canadian Brass

(I’ve had computer troubles for the past three days and only since this morning am back online, thanks to Darius at Comcast. It was something about my router having to be reconfigured, whatever that means.) I have wanted to write every day to keep up the discipline, but please know that it’s only been because of tech-troubles that I have not. I’m back.







The lights went down, and somber, as they came,
musicians fanned the summer night to flame.
The dirge of mournful trumpets and trombones
elicited from audience low moans
as Brass from Canada would then proclaim

their jazz. First, “Just a Closer Walk” starts tame
as kittens, then explodes! This titan game
of tuba, trumpets, horn, and baritones,
scores touchdowns. Champions belong on thrones.
The lights went down.

These guys, who feel jazz in their bones, should claim
their rightful place in music’s Hall of Fame.
Entranced, I know they’ve been my chaperones
through zesty flavors of new ice cream cones.
I keep the concert in my picture frame.

The lights went down.


The Jazz Pianist (To Bob Milne)

Two days before, he’d had hand surgery,
then played a ragtime concert for us all.
He never missed a beat or dropped the ball
and we were privileged. O, this music’s spree

caught us and wove a magic web all through
the quiet church. His fingers flew, foot tapped
mad rhythm, as if bracing winds had slapped
us. Pianist myself,  I never knew

that hands could be so deft or move that fast.
Scott Joplin and Tom Turpin blew the top
off musical imagination. Drop
it all to hoist this virtuoso’s mast.


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