“It’s half-drunk, blue, swing dancing splendor.” (Mariel Fechik on Cadenza)


Mariel Fechik is a contributor to Half Mystic Journal’s fifth issuecadenza. She is a musician and writer from Chicago. She sings in the band Fay Ray and is a music writer for Atwood Magazine and Third Coast Review. She was recently chosen as a finalist for Rabbit Catastrophe Review's 2017 Real Good Poem Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Fat Magazine, Noble / Gas Qrtly, Sundog Lit, Glass, and others.


We asked three of our Issue V contributors to share with us their personal definitions of cadenza: how it is formed, where it has been, what it could be. Here is Mariel Fechik's vision of the saxophone laugh – the air of smoke & blue – the love affair as old-fashioned as it is timeless…

In the yellowed blue of a city at night, there is cadenza.

Cities are places of jazz一where it was born, where it has changed, and where it thrives. Growing up just outside of Chicago, with a jazz fanatic for a father, my childhood was filled with the swirling sounds and colors of this vibrant musical history. When I began playing jazz myself, a new appreciation for its complexity and depth came about in me. It made real the shimmering, smokey fantasies of my youth.

In its simplest form, cadenza translates to freedom. It puts the music on pause, notes hanging in the balance, while a player improvises freely. Generally, this happens in the penultimate moment of a song. There is an ache in this moment. There is the promise of something more, something new, and in a wisp of smoke, it’s gone.

This ephemeral feeling speaks loudest to me from my father’s car speakers, rain snaking down the windows, driving home from the city late at night. I hear it in the start of Lee Morgan’s “Search for the New Land,” and in the woozy swagger of Charles Mingus’ “Song With Orange.” I hear it in the fizzle of neon signs lighting up just after sunset, and I hear it in laughter bending around street corners. I want to live in this feeling. Here, it is always just after dusk, the music is playing, and there is something more.

This is a feeling that I want to pour into all of my creative work—this half-drunk, blue, swing dancing splendor—that still sends me to dreamland late at night, in the back seat of the car.


Mariel Fechik's poem “Evening Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Silk Blues”, along with twenty other pieces by contributors and two columns by the Half Mystic team, are compiled in Half Mystic Journal’s Issue V: Cadenza, a stunning collection of contemporary art, lyrics, and writing celebrating swing jazz and tapping feet, midnight on cobblestoned streets, drunken solo out a three-story window, drowsy night and clumsy dance, serenade with the stars as a microphone. It is available for preorder now.