The Sunday Poem: “The Church of St. John Coltrane” by Mark Fogarty

September 3rd, 2023

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The Sunday Poem  is published weekly, and strives to include the poet reading their work.

Mark Fogarty reads his poem at its conclusion.

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painting by Vakseen

painting by Vakseen

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The Church of St. John Coltrane

Elation-Elegance-Exaltation

Coltrane said a prayer to his musical God
Straight through the horn of his saxophone.
Not a metaphor; he spoke the words
Through the reed and the music into the air.

One thought can produce millions of vibrations
and they all go back to God … everything does.

There is a gentle elation
In Jimmy Garrison’s bass ostinato:
A Love Supreme
A Love Supreme
A Love Supreme
Seventeen times, maybe nineteen, I don’t remember.
It’s played long enough for you to nod awake.

Coltrane came up through the whirligig
Of bebop, dark dependencies,
Narcs and junkie business bathrooms.
Played with Miles, got fired by Miles.
Recovered and played with him again.
So what? The best of all time, maybe.
So what? It’s out there, find it.
So what? The time in a horn that’s pouring out.

Keep your eye on God.
God is. He always was. He always will be.

Where did it come from, the elegant murmuration of the soul?
The ten-thousand-hour theory matched with a striving spirit.
“The thing about Trane,” said one of his friends,
“Is that he’s 90 percent saxophone.”

The four of them, the best. Trane and Garrison, the best.
McCoy and Elvin, the best. The best.
Want to love a woman slow and right? Naima.
Want to see the breathless world through a dripping rainbow? After the Rain.
Want to feel your power lighting up all around you? Giant Steps.

God breathes through us so completely …
so gently we hardly feel it … yet,
it is our everything.

They recorded it in Jersey, not far from here.
Trane drove over from Queens, where he lived, each day.
They got paid a couple of hundred dollars each.
Trane got a little more, because he was the bandleader.
Acknowledgment, the tip of the musical hat.
Resolution, the poet’s churning dash to God.
Pursuance, just a little longer to go for exaltation.
Psalm, a word with the Master in the Garden.

Thoughts – deeds – vibrations, etc.
They all go back to God and He cleanses all.

Coltrane often wouldn’t play A Love Supreme in clubs.
He felt it was sacred music. He played it through
At an open-air festival in France, just one movement caught on film.
And another time, partially, at a church event.
The classic quartet had splintered as Trane
Went looking for the screech and the hiss
Of awakening worlds, the light inside the light years.
But they were there, all four, that afternoon,
McCoy with his own band, Garrison
Still with Trane, Elvin just happened to come and he sat in,
Even though his foot was broken.
There was a full house of musicians waiting to play.
They all came forward to listen, and after a while,
They started to nod awake, and after that
They called out “John! John! John!” to their dying king.

—interpolations from Psalm by John Coltrane (1926-1967)

……………………..Originally appeared in Rabbit (Australia)

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Listen to Mark Fogarty read his poem

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Mark Fogarty is a poet, musician and journalist. He curates The Jaco Pastorius Gig List on Facebook

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Born in Athens, GA (1979) and raised in Jacksonville, FL, Otha Davis III (also known as  Vakseen) is a self-taught, museum-exhibited artist and a multi-platinum music executive, producer & songwriter.

To visit his website, click here

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Listen to John Coltrane perform “Psalm,” part 4 of his 1964 recordingv A Love Supreme, with McCoy Tyner (piano); Jimmy Garrison (bass); Elvin Jones (drums).  [Universal Music Group]

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