Tuesday, June 2, 2009

for john coltrane

remembering john coltrane
(1922 - 1967)

"then i myself come forth: …for the
establishing firmly of dharma,
i am born from age to age".
[lord krsna, bhagavad gita]
hamlet n.c. named for its size, a rustically
rural afterthought & junction of two major
rail lines ‘tween raleigh, d.c., new york &
florida, an unlikely place for one to speak its
name & extraordinary events in the same
breathing, or open one’s soul to true purpose,
but a sacred nexus just the same
(like the rock-hewn caves of
nazareth or the snowy mountains
& jeweled gardens of lumbini)
where ishwara chose again to unite with a
human soul & break himself on karma’s
illusory wheel. to project upon finite
human mind & look through human eyes;
the soul eyes of john william coltrane,
big john & alice’s big-eyed boy, before
falling into slumbering forgetfulness.
(look into my eyes & tell me
what it is u see in me ...
pure devotion, freely spoken…
[bones, thugs & harmony])
falling from privilege to poverty to practicing
the e flat alto horn; falling into adharma,
learning his music from choral canon, radio,
movies, jukeboxes. listening to bird & bebop;
reaching out for euphoria, finding heroin
instead & a passport to the brain’s pleasure
centers. taking too many trips therein.
(trane gathering speed ignoring
signals runaway trane down a
dark tunnel with no light at the end)
drying up debauching dopamine; exchanging
euphoria for dysphoria & painful descent –
not into incarnation but hapless addiction.
falling but finding a barely audible lifestream,
a musica mundana; finding miles but fumbling –
a funky junkie stumble, a bleak & emotionally
bankrupt bottom, soiling creativity;
junkie saunter, junkie strut, haggard,
macabre & slow, brought him to his
bloodless hands & knees)
making miles dismiss him, fire him, call him
irresponsible, unreliable & undependable too.
then finding the grace to courageously kick;
the strength to set his music free; wake
ishwara, flip a switch & flood
the soul with
redemptive light; finding monk,
sober reconciliation with miles.
(the twin currents of sound & light, the one
attractive upward, the other affixing &
his soul eyes opened to a clear glimpse of the
true, a
deep & lasting epiphanic enlightenment
coaxing thru
his horn a sound of pure & sublime
devotion, reeking
of direct intercourse with
spirit; a musky pheromonal
image of the divine
in whole tonish soloing & modal
playing; in an
organic process of reexamining, redefining

self & soul & sound.
(the truth itself doesn't have any name on it
to me. & each man has to find this for
himself… [j. coltrane])
the rhythms of his vision ate up entire scales,
seven or nine notes over two beats fast,
against the ear, resonating in the heart,
blowing apart
rigid harmonic frame; fusing
tonicity, scalar superimposition
& driving
rhythmical pulse & passion
reaching for god,
finding union, finding irfan,
finding moksha
(vanished the veils of light & shade, lifted
every vapor of sorrow, sailed away all
dawns of fleeting joy…
[p. yogananda])
becoming one with the music, freeing himself
from changes, from harmony, from mode, meter
rhythm & time; from sound & all attachments,
his mortal coil after forty winters &
exchanging his horn
for samadhi; vanishing into
the great myself; an inflated
tear in an ocean of
joy, reabsorbed, free at last in a love supreme.

©Joseph McNair; 2008

1 comment:

  1. forty years seems so short but life is never fair to you, me, and anyone else so why is it I want to cry then for men like this? Some about them makes me want to reach closer and ask what is it all for?