Yusef Lateef/Roberto Garcia



Jihad (or struggle)


1. Go

Left your daddy’s name,

left Chattanooga & the ghost of

Bessie whispering


Motor city music / hustle / learnt

riff lick improv & sit in / skipped booze

& tucked your babies in at night


Gentleness—that’s your karma,

you play sax like a muezzin

calling the faithful to prayer


& they come, boy do they come / see

all the Black man’s continents up

on stage—under America’s merciless light


2. Fat Heavy Sound


O decades—O big band & swing—

O bebop & hard bop—Cool Jazz & Free


Humble Yusef, mister listen & earn

Miles / Dizzy / Sonny / Trane / Bird


You keep   rising    rising    rising

& Jazz  falls   falling   fallen  / like heroes


O Schaeffer—O record labels & studios!

Savoy / Verve / Prestige / Impulse / Argo


O flute—rabab—bassoon & oboe


3. Flow


Breathe deep—Yusef

Deep—like trees

like the crowd’s gonna be

listening for a long long time




Yusef observes the photo of Trane at the Guggenheim

(After the photo by William Claxton)


cool jazz swag eyes,

you high,

up there on the fourth rotunda,

masterpieces nailed to walls?


pointing at the case like,

this what's up, this is art


 trane, i remember that look,

42 minutes into favorite things,

crowd watching you desperately,

waitress freaking out


your sweaty stare & hell-bent focus

on the notes


i dig the white curved concrete,

the couple folks hangin' around


say, why don’t you count to four

kick it at the hot cross-bun,

break out the pipe &






Plum Blossom


there is     art 

there is     beauty


Beauty  appears effortless

Art   sometimes    like    practice         


The   art—ist   understands when


the muse

panting in passion's reeling

              surrenders the gift then


Art   isn’t just toil 

but   a sun breaking

through the brain’s dark matter 


The art—ist dies trying

                    dies knowing


if art and beauty become one



        in each of us

for as long as we live

is    Arrested

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