A Swingin' Affair

Poem about Dexter Gordon

A SWINGIN’ AFFAIR

I
was told as a child
Blacks had no worth,
Not a nickel's worth of dimes.
I believed that myth
'Til Dex rode in
With his ax
In double time.

His
horn was soarin',
The changes flyin',
His rhythm right on time;
My heart
Beat with the pleasure
Of new found pride,
Knowing,
His blood
Flowed through mine.

Dex
Took the chords
The keyboard played,
And danced around each note;
Then shuffled 'em
Like a deck of cards,
And didn't miss a stroke.

B minor 7 with flatted 5th,
a half diminished chord,
He substituted a lick in D,
Then really began to soar.

He tipped his hat
To Charlie Parker,
and quoted
Trane with Miles,
Then paid his homage to
Thelonious Monk,
In Charlie Rouse's style.

He took
a Scrapple From The Apple,
Then went to Billie's Bounce,
The rhythm section, now on fire,
But he didn't budge an ounce.

He just
dug right in
to shuffle again,
This time
A Royal Flush,
Then lingered a bit
Behind the beat,
Still smokin'
But in no rush.

Then he
doubled the time
just like this rhyme,
in fluid 16th notes,
tellin’
Charlie and Lester,
“your baby boy, Dexter's,
on top of the
bebop you wrote."

Wailin'
like a banshee,
this prince of saxophone,
His ballads dripped of honey,
His Arpeggios were strong.

Callin' on his idles,
Ghost of Pres'
within in the isles,
smiling at his protege,
At the peak of this new style.

His tenor
Drenched of Blackness,
And all the things we are--
Of pain, and pleasure,
And creative greatness
Until his final bar.

Eric L. Wattree

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Eric Wattree