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MacQueen’s Quinterly: Knock-your-socks-off Art and Literature
Issue 12: March 2022
Poem: 275 words
By Anita Lerek

Jazz Paradiso

—Homage to Cinema Paradiso: Love Theme
as performed by trumpeter Chris Botti
I sit on the stage of a family dinner 
facing the pearl set in silence. 
What use can an old mother oyster be: 
just ancestor in waiting. 
I step closer, take her hand, 
see the fields where we sang, 
and scattered flowers. 
It is said that flowers cling 
to those who are afraid. 
She brushes me away 

into criss-cross nights, 
where light and shade mark up 
alleys, clubs, hushed martinis, 
runny leftovers—designed by need. 
Botti, your mouth cups a room where 
the wild oyster glides unhinged 
in the night play of flesh and melody, 
before turning to rock. 

Where secrets bleed out 
to tipsy strangers—
about one family part folded inside the other 
like bedrock; then turbulence, 
scattered particles, unable to re-attach. 
Willed far away, yet so near, 
they are cliffs, staged in isolation. 

On the mount you stand and blow, 
growl, tremble, flutter, moan, 
cry up and down angry walls. 
Prophet, mouthpiece—
activate the jilted ancestors, 
crack open the codes. Forgive us. 

Enter me as slow rain dissolves rock. 
Run your tongue, run your lips, 
raise your horn, slow—
hold beyond holding until the note 
spills across forsaken skies. 
Entice the spirits to return, 
to pass on what has not been said. 

In this oyster room buried deep, 
bitten out of time, family voices rise, 
frame by frame, in malice, 
then collapse—
an undressing, mouths severed 
from word, from blame; rather, species 
struck together in original song. 

I kneel before them and weep, 
here, where stars listen, 
in this room consecrated 
by the night 
and the melody. 



Publisher’s Note:

To experience Chris Botti’s performance of the “Love Theme” from the film Cinema Paradiso at the Newport Jazz Festival, recorded live on 13 August 2006, see YouTube video.

Anita Lerek
Issue 12, March 2022

has spent her adult life juggling business and the enchantment of her most faithful lover, her poetic muse. The visual arts, jazz, and social justice are life-long influences. Born abroad (Poland), she retains a sense of otherness.

A publishing late-bloomer, she is the author of a chapbook, History and Being (2019). Her poetry has recently appeared in River Heron, Silver Birch Press, Offcourse, Verse-Virtual, Poetry Super Highway (Poet of the Week), Medium: Cry/Scream, Visual Verse, and First Literary Review-East.

Ms. Lerek is co-founder of ChangeArtists, a start-up online hub for quality poetry related to political engagement and social action. She is a member of the Verse-Virtual literary community, and lives with her archivist husband in Toronto, Canada.

You can find her at Facebook and Instagram.

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