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Two Poems on
Pannonica de Koenigswarter

Mark Luebbers & Benjamin Goluboff

The Baroness Pannonica (“Nica”) de Koenigswarter (1913-1988) was an heiress to the Rothschild fortune who renounced her family to become a patron and confidante to many jazz musicians of the bebop and post-bop era. She had a long and close relationship with the innovative pianist Thelonious Monk.


An Evening with Law Enforcement Officers in New Castle, Delaware, 1958


Moths circled

the yellow light

above the office door

of the Park Plaza Motel.

As the cops pulled Monk

from the passenger seat

to the ground, Nica

pleaded with them

not to hurt his hands, while

in orbits and ellipses

the moths swarmed

the bright confounding




Thelonious Monk Retired To Weehawken, N.J. c. 1977


In some of the sequences of

Straight No Chaser,

you see Monk dancing

in a bright room

near a big window

over the river.

You know this is Nica’s spot

on the Palisades in Weehawken

the room with the Steinway

and the big windows

and the view of Midtown.

But you want to say

here’s Monk in bebop heaven,

or here he is in American memory,

spinning, dancing

in a bright room

over the river.



Mark Luebbers has been a teacher and administrator at a number of independent schools; Benjamin Goluboff teaches at Lake Forest College. Sometimes they write poems together. Mark and Ben’s collection of speculative biographical poetry, Citizens of Ordinary Time, appeared this spring from Urban Farmhouse Press.

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