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 &

 

blow!

 

 

 

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

 

time

        in each of us

for as long as we live

is    Arrested

 
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