A N N E X    P R E S S        2 0 1 5

TOM MANDEL        ALL THINGS YOU ARE

As I drive the mountainous spine

of three states today on my way

to an annual meet-up of friends


memory’s savoir faire sends me

the set Dexter Gordon played

fronting a local quartet long ago


at my college dorm. On trumpet

my Crow Jim idol of dejected ab-

straction (whom I caught often on


Monday nights at Gate of Horn

sessions where he cut them all

who came to town yet never dared


a word in his direction. Perhaps

one time I sensed the faintest of

nods from him between two sets


unless I misremember or imagine

the gesture or memory made it

up for me just now) Ira Sullivan.


While Dexter exchanged Duke-

like twinkling remarks with folks

in the room, the bassist Donald


Garrett in off-tune ala-Eckstine a

capella baritone began to croon

Imagination is silly / you go a-


round willy nilly / for example I

go around” ...the slow car in

front of me – finally! – when


after feints & darts the moment

comes to cross the yellow line

as simultaneously I ponder my


register of recollection whose

slow tonal scale time’s shutter

deposits then patiently, potently


returns to the mind what it shot

from time to time now unveiled

as likeness shadows each folded


into another then again pressing

to pass a slow truck keep up my

speed through its rectangular


shadow until once more forested

hills appear above the highway

stippled with a few dwellings &


the highway opens ahead. Thin as

the devil’s cigarillo Dexter tears

a storm of sound in precision frag-


ments wound in memory’s thread

until the set is done & – my eye

on suburbs now unrolling on the


roadside, enormous houses that

loom like CAD drawings of mau-

soleums with driveways – out of


nowhere a conversation in Ruth

Coryn’s flat on the rue Dupuytren

a decade later pops into my head


& I hear my Angolan exile friend

Carlos as he recruits me urgently to

assassinate the enemy of his cause.


You fly to Rome; someone puts a

gun in your hand – don’t ask who.

Ca ne sera q’un instant qui dispar-


aîtra comme les autres in a future

that no longer eludes or excludes

you,” he continues excitedly while


thinking “Is he nuts?” I muster a

laugh as if we both know the joke.

Heady times? So they seemed. Yet


how more distant the day from which

they hail me than that long ago

hour when I listened to Dexter


Gordon, Jodie Christian on piano

& legendary Chicago drummer

Wilbur Campbell rounding out the


group, I muse, then out of nowhere

hear my own voice shout“this drive is

taking forever!” as – perhaps to lift

memory’s aegis from the day’s

unending moment – the rush hour

arrives, no doubt summoned by my

impatience, & the sun descends

on the stalled traffic around me.

It’s true, I won’t get there today.

Anyway, my back is stiff from

a long day at the wheel. I crane

my head to spy an exit then 

pull off, duck into a motel.

Dusk gathers outside the window

as I write down these lines from out

of my past until dinner time’s

here at last: I’m hungry & back

in the car I head out to dine.