Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts
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SHJ Issue 8
Fall 2013

Sunday Night at Dave’s

by Sylvia Levinson

Jazz is there and gone. It happens.... That simple.
—Keith Jarrett
Scent of Shalimar, perfume from my youth. 
No one wears it anymore, but someone does tonight 
and it’s a jazz smell—sultry and amber sweet—all Billie
and Ella and shadow-lit nightclub. Maybe someone at the upright
in the dining room noodles around a standard, say
Green Dolphin Street. A drum kit in front of the fireplace, 
a young woman with a stand-up bass. 

A guy hangs a sax around his neck, slides into the rhythm, 
a couple of phrases, the melody. One takes off on an improv, 
others come and go, jam and groove, hot and cool, ballads and bop, 
blues and free-styling scat. Someone sits at the keyboard, sets up 
a Latin beat. Congas and bongos pick it up, a guitar riffs. Dave,
on flute, steps to the mic, jumps into Girl From Ipanema,
and Luisa sings in Portuguese. 

The old, round dining table fills with bottles of wine, salad, a pizza,
taquitos, a carrot cake—offerings to friendship and music. Listeners 
perch on laps and  sofa arms, squeeze up next to the musicians, 
crowd around the potluck table, spill out to the front porch, 
the concrete steps, the lawn, this warm June evening. 
No one can stand still. Heads bob, hips swivel, random 
partners dance, others pick up tambourines or maracas. 
Whiff of sweet marijuana in the night air. 

They call it a jam, what happens Sunday nights
in this little Craftsman house in South Park. 
I, who can neither sing nor play, I call it magic.



SHJ Issue 8
Fall 2013

Sylvia Levinson

lives in San Diego. She is the author of Spoon, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press (Fall 2013), and Gateways: Poems of Nature, Meditation and Renewal (Caernarvon Press, 2005). Publications include: Snowy Egret, Blue Arc West, City Works, Hunger and Thirst, Mamas and Papas, San Diego Poetry Annual, San Diego Writers Ink, Magee Park, The Christian Science Monitor, Ekphrasis, and Serving House Journal. She volunteers at KSDS Jazz 88.3 FM, and attends many theater and jazz performances each year.

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury