For Jazz

                Freddie Green

Time, time. Engine-beat, cat’s tread,
Machine that breathes, a bouncing ball, a throb.
Harmonic pulse, knife-edge of walking bass,
Each stroke precisely laid in space,
Moving through slight manipulations of the chord,
For forty years and more, as Schuller said,
A quarter billion beats, he did his job,
He worked his strip of ground, the finger-board.
Rhythm guitar. A craft no-one aspires
To live or die for, too much like lighting fires
In other people’s houses. Some of us, though,
By work at small perfections come to know
Great structures rest on every single point.
And the time, the time, was never out of joint.