For Jazz

                Art Tatum

Tatum was a world unto himself,
A planet made exempt from gravity,
Where time, though broken, was more orderly.
And moved like some steady continental shelf
Through atmospheres made dense with modulation,
Where speeds could be unearthly, without friction,
But where all loops and swerves through harmony,
However intricate, resolved on certainty.
People say he is too flawless, that he decorates
Compulsively, as though compelled to use
Technique so multitudinous, his heart
Quite disengaged. But listen, how he states
The mighty cadence, in ‘Aunt Hagar’, of the blues,
Held in the vast precision of his art.