I. Portrait of a Dutch Painter
II. Portrait of an American Jazz Musician

Portrait of a Dutch Painter

He sat under a plum tree in Arles, France
pondering the possibilities. There is something

on my mind that I want to tell you about,
a glass jar sitting on a nightstand peering out a window.

You may perhaps know something of it already
and it will not be news to you.

The railroad tracks in the distance asked which of the trains—
I wanted to let you know that I fell so much in love

with someone this summer that I can find no other words for it,
traveling by a yellow shaded house would bring inspiration.

It is just as if she were the closest person to me
and I the closest person to her, and those words I spoke to her

waiting to be seen at the Café Terrace,
but when I told her this, she replied that her past

and her future remained as one to her so that she could never return
my feelings over the Mighty Rhône.

There are three stages after night falls on the Poet’s Garden:
not loving and not being loved, the painter on his way home from work,

loving and not being loved, wondering who would leave behind,
loving and being loved, an old man on the threshold of eternity.

Now, I tell you that the second stage is better than the first,
but the third that's it, staring out at the crimson leaves

hanging from trees in the garden of the Saint-Paul Hospital.

Portrait of an American Jazz Musician

You have some kind of form. You have to start somewhere. 15 miles north of St. Louis, Missouri.
You have walls and stuff, but you still come in a room with a trumpet and act

kinda free. There's a framework, but it's just—we don't want to overdo it, you know.
It's hard to balance. Sometimes you don't even know if people in 52nd street clubs

or theatres in Paris like it or not. If I go to hear someone, I'm at their mercy. I'm listening. I'm trying
to get whatever they put out, feeling the notes not played. I have to play the way I want to play,

because that's the only way I can feel like something, you know. You keep on doing it,
but the inside is different. You can just keep it going all night, man.

Moments become focused on scales instead of chord changes. It's like listening to a train
going towards Santa Monica a lot of times; you know, sometimes it's the same and other times it changes.

Portrait of a Dutch Painter borrowed the italicized lines from the following letter:
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 3 November 1881 in Etten. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, published in The Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh, Publisher: Bulfinch, 1991, number 153.

Portrait of An American Jazz Musician borrowed the italicized lines from a Les Tomkins interview of Miles Davis in 1969:
Davis, Miles. "Miles Davis: Talking to Les Tomkins in 1969." Interview by Les Tomkins. Jazz Professional. Jazz Professional. Web. 2011.

DAVID BACH received his B.A. in English at the University of Texas- San Antonio before going on to graduate from Texas State University with an M.F.A. in Poetry in the spring of 2012. His poetry and short fiction have previously been featured in the Sagebrush Review. He currently lives and writes from his home in San Antonio, Texas.