Thomas, Tommy baby,
you are both hot,
Tom Cat you’re red hot--
when I catch you in your Tom Cat Strut,
sauntering across campus,
strolling like it ain’t no thing,
cuz it don’t meant a thing
if it ain’t got that swing baby.
So dig this, Tommy Gun,
you groove with the best of ‘em
when I spot you strollin’—
Your head, teetering left and right like a seesaw, boppin’ baby,
arms hangin’ loosely, swinging freely, wildly, go! go!
legs scooping forward in boisterous trombone slides--
Groooooove Tommy baby!
You’re Louis’s best blows--
ten feet from the mic and the Fives baby,
you’re hot, red hot,
any closer and I'll burn up!
But you’re cool, real cool,
and oh so sweet.
in your beard like a pepper and salt shaker tossed across the table,
I look to see those rosy lips part,
and peep those pearly whites shinin' like the bell of Louis’s cornet
brandished in the air, under those ballroom lights--
you’re screamin’ Tommy!
Let me hear that laugh that shakes the room,
punches like Blakey’s bass drum,
thumps like Mingus--
T-Bird you’ve got that hard bop in your soul,
you’re gonna bop to the top TB,
into the third heaven where the angels fall in line to your swing,
that incessant strut that keeps the devil at bay,
Blow! Blow! Blow!
And I see you now Tom Cat,
up there in the clouds,
digging your way across eternity,
bopping and jiving, swinging and blowing,
in your faded khaki pants and worn tennis shoes,
loosely buttoned collared shirt,
tight rectangular glasses that glistened the bell of your eyes even more--
I gotta stand twenty feet away Tommy baby!
You glance down at me and wink,
rearing your head back to let loose that Mingus and Blakey
guffaw guffaw guffaw!!!
--so hearty and rich,
the backbone of every nervous first-year classroom,
and the sniggering seniors you continued to befuddle and dazzle
with your mysterious ways
and insatiable swing.
So blow, Tommy Gun, blow!
Go Tom Cat go!
Dig T-Bird dig!
Let loose Tommy boy!
Swing for us, swing swing swing--
Hot and Sweet, Tommy baby,
hot and sweet.
For my professor, mentor, and dear friend, Thomas Barrett. You're hot and sweet Tommy baby, rest easy. Keep boppin. Thanks for everything.