Dexter Gordon/Howard Faerstein



When Dexter Gordon And Freddie Hubbard Play “I’m A Fool To Want You”

And when all that remained was dusk--

brown-eyed susans blackened,
finches warming in the darkened buckthorn--

and all my imperfections,
masquerades and handicaps,

my near blindness,
when they weighed like the still faint

blinking stars, I turned to the tenor

for consolation, to the trumpet
for memory more precious than fact,

and the horns, throaty and coarse,

blew through absence
and wind, riffing above the scrub grass
of jangled gravel, sweeping to the hard-packed road

in an exhalation of spit,
blues up and down
in an exaltation of dust.

Dexter’s tone like May in bird song,
like firefighters cradling heat imagers close,

searching for the children cringing in closets.


To save us when everything else is gone.




In the middle of my commute,

hungry for what’s not available,

shelf empty,
raincheck won’t do.


In the middle of the newscast:

stonings, beheadings, bombings,

stuck inside a Suburu,
toggling to CD mode,


the middle of “Don’t Explain”

waiting for my finger tip, the song

never ending, rushing water,
lyric by Lady Day, breeze fanning

oak leaves along the shoulder.


If I could sparrow here to there
across the bridge of Dexter’s soliloquy,

how he sizzles to the high notes
with his single tenor tongue.


Please don’t explain.

No need to explain.
Post a wind advisory for the duration, s

mall craft warning along Route 10.


Blues Up and Down

                                  (written by Gene Ammons & Sonny Stitt)
Listen to Dexter Gordon & Johnny Griffin blow:

frog croak & kingfisher rattle,
circus acrobats & wedding cake,

two tenors, one breath,
Dizzy spiral into growl,
fire engine smoking to the other side of town,

Bird-like fingering into rapturous wild,

Monkish improv, resounding bridge—
from Gentle Jug & Lone Wolf to Long Tall Dex & Little Giant—

two tones, homage to the gods.

If I had learned Theory,
been a student of Composition, understood Harmony,
I could prattle on
but I know as much about all that jazz as I do

the stars visible every night
no matter I’m looking up or asleep in my bed.

Better to let the saxes wail.

On Williamsburg Bridge,
the heavens are gull-winged, brushed with curls of light.
It might be midnight or the middle of day,

East River a reflection of the bebop sky.

And here’s what could be a leaf or a moth.
The sound of it falling is the sound of it flying.

More than art, it’s creation.

Eight bar riffs whittled to two,
trading fours in chords of black— drug busts, imprisonment,

self-exile— ending at the same time
with the same line, exultant return.

Take it back to the theme. Upend the universe.
Become a splendor of noise.
One sound together, goodbye world.


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