Calvin Forbes teaches writing, literature, and jazz history at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Blues and jazz inform both the rhythm and content of his poetry. He often uses ballads to tell family stories or the ups and downs of romance. But Forbes updates the tradition with surreal techniques, epigrammatic humor, and changing voices. He described his work as “simplicity shacked up with complexity.”
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The Card Players
A fourth was needed so one of the three
Invited a friend and I came along as a spare
In case a chair was empty since I could fill
In as easily as I could shout out a rhyme.
As the jive flowed like...
The slice I ate I want it back
Those crumbs I swept up
I’d like my share again
I can still taste it like it was
The memory by itself is delicious
Each bite was a small miracle
Both nourishing and sweet
The Other Side of This World
Put my glad rags in a cardboard box—
This old jiggerboo never grew mature.
Is everthing in its place except me?
Don’t be surprised; I called all day
And the only person I could reach was
The operator; and it’s a sorry day when