New Poem by Reuben Jackson, “Radio Nights”

Radio Nights by Reuben Jackson

ASP is proud to premier the new Reuben Jackson poem, “Radio Nights.” 

From Reuben: As I mentioned during the interview with Rose Solari, my childhood love for radio was two fold: It was (and still is, kinda…) a gateway to new music, and it provided programmers a chance to work with the musical qualities inherent in what we now often refer to as the spoken word. This unpublished poem is a nod (or another nod) to the magic of the medium, and a curious child’s life in Washington, D.C.

 Radio Nights 

Left hand

working the dial quietly ….  quietly

(My parents heard everything)

A young safecracker

In search of late night beauty:

Sam Cooke’s transformational yearning

Or Sam Cooke’s transformational yearning .

The be bop

rapid tongues of DJs sharing

sometimes harrowing headlines.

They too kept me awake –

scared the patriotic out of me

One night I dreamed I asked Otis Redding

If I could sit with him-

Another gifted black protector-

At the dock of the bay.


Reuben Jackson served as curator of the Smithsonian’s Duke Ellington Collection in Washington, D.C. for over twenty years. His music reviews have been published in the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, Jazz Times, and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Jackson is also an educator and mentor with The Young Writers Project. He taught poetry for 11 years at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland and taught high school for two years in Burlington, Vermont. His poems have been published in over 40 anthologies; his first volume is fingering the keys, which Joseph Brodsky picked for the Columbia Book Award. Reuben Jackson is currently an archivist with the University of the District of Columbia’s Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. From 2013 until 2018, he was host of Friday Night Jazz on Vermont Public Radio.