“Coltrane” — a poem by Paul Juhasz

November 26th, 2021

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Unknown author, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

 

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Coltrane

I sit on a balcony,
a cup of coffee held for warmth
on a chill spring morning,
as waxwings and vireos flit and flash,
percolating with song.

Earbuds dam back the world
with Coltrane’s “Alabama,”
while in the room behind the
sliding glass door, the news speaks
of Ahmaud Arbery.

Coltrane’s sax melts mournful,
keeping the bass and percussion
percolating in the background at bay;
desperation and defiance blend on the reed,
build, expand, become manic,
pressing back against the growling chaos of the bassline,
before collapsing, weary and spent,
one final wail into the darkness, then
Coltrane’s liquid gold tapers,
a final, lingering note fading
into full silence.

Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson
would be sixty-nine-years old now.
Carol Denise McNair would be sixty-six.

Trayvon Martin would have been twenty-five
Eric Garner would be forty-nine,
Sandra Bland thirty-three.
Ahmaud Arbery will never be twenty-six.

I sit on a balcony
and think about a treadmill world,
where even the warbling of birds
cannot hold back the darkness
of a world stuck on repeat.

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Editor’s Note:  The photograph montage preceding the poem is of Denise McNair (11), Carole Robertson (14), Addie Mae Collins (14) and Cynthia Wesley, (14), victims of the September 15, 1963 bombing by the Ku Klux Klan at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  The montage may have first appeared in the Birmingham News

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Paul Juhasz

Paul Juhasz’s work has appeared in bioStories, Red River Review, Concho River Review, Dragon Poet Review, Voices de la Luna, and The Oklahoma Review. He is the author of two books, Fulfillment: Diary of a Warehouse Picker, a mock journal chronicling his seven-month term as a picker at an Amazon Fulfillment Center; and Ronin: Mostly Prose Poems, both published by Fine Dog Press. He currently lives in Oklahoma City.

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Listen to the 1964 recording of John Coltrane playing “Alabama,” with McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); and Elvin Jones (drums). [Universal].  Coltrane wrote and performed his composition in response to the bombing.

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Click here for information about how to submit your poetry

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