Poetry: to be or not to bop (for Dizzy Gillespie) by Robert Feldman

Dizzy Gillespie.

rider leapfroggin over the Union Square El
atop bent trumpet
fresh from decimatin the competition,
this angel rainin visions
strolls in from Philadelphia packin a struggle rhythm,
blowin by the skins in lightnin 64th notes
pickpocketin the soaked drummer,
destroyin February midnight Broadway’s dashed lines,
headin north up the FDR
uptempo music forever movin
exaggeratin into the air of possibilities—
to be or not to bop,
absolutely no question

hushed snow fallin
white poppy round midnight February Harlem,
Dizzy never goin back,
he and Bird realizin long ago
the first time’s always perfect, man,
brother deuces trumpetin and blowin down the East River,
annihilatin the gates clean off 52nd St,
mad fickle lovers removin dark glasses
decipherin naked notes—
composin one more Mr. Jones, their generational copilot

and when Max and Monk’s uptempo drives them further,
14 melodies at once
burst out Dizzy’s parachuted cheeks
mergin into one silverthroated voice,
flatted fifths soar
speakin in whispers
the exact Minton’s of harmony,
and those uptown streets
and those bedsheets go
rollin way back downtown,
to a place where unclothed cognac sunset waves
run crashin off Rockaway Beaches,
to a place where this giant heart lives on
forever touched by a child’s artistry,
lives on laughin and blowin
forever dinin out on the Blues

Paterson New Jersey’s literary tradition, most notably Louis/Allen Ginsberg and William Carlos Williams, inspired Robert early on. Later in St. Louis, he organized various poetry readings, produced a weekly community issues and poetry hour, and hosted a bebop jazz radio program on KDNA and KDBY. After relocating to Bisbee, Arizona, Mr. Feldman founded the Bisbee Poets Collective and later helped forge the annual Bisbee Poetry Festival. Throughout subsequent years, he has continued to facilitate and participate in readings and publish (most recently “Hineni”, 2018; “Sunflowers, Sutras, Wheatfields and other ArtPoems”, 2019), make fire paintings, and play tabla.

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