I’ve been exploring the practice of Theo-poetics for the past few years, and here is one of my favorite pieces I’ve come up with so far. In addition to the text, I’ve included a recording of the piece I did with a free jazz duo some time back.
I’ve recorded an album worth of material with this jazz group, and I also have my spoken word pieces available along with the audio recordings on my site. Through the end of the year, I have them available free of charge, though any donations will be given to the Week of Compassion mission ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
A Love Supreme
(w/ Excerpt from lyrics by Leon Thomas)
In 1926 the cosmos concocted
A cacophonic spark.
When John William Coltrane made his mark,
The air was dark and heavy
To the point of choking.
America’s broken prism of idealism
Shone in racial schisms and tokenism.
The depression loomed just out of reach,
Would-be slaves, though free from chains,
Were not free in speech.
The black man could teach his children,
Just not too much, and as long
As they didn’t touch elbows with those
Whose clothes were newer, skin was whiter,
Who had a sense of veracity, or at least the capacity
To hold fast to these ideals that made real
The great divide.
In ’51, off of a stint with Dizzy
Trane’s veins trembled with the roar
Of the Dragon. For six years,
Heroin was his God.
Trane worshipped at the feet of Bird,
Charlie Parker, the junk-headed, smack-fueled
Bebop savant who was so good,
Even Trane wanted to be like him,
Play like him, shoot up like him, even die like him
If it meant touching the transcendence
Morbidly married to Bird’s dependence.
While some protested, others, bare-chested,
Pressed at the time-tested tenets of patriotism,
Creating another schism of American idealism.
Then Trane soothed the pain of ingrained,
Entrenched thought, his pitch drenched
“Jetted in on a ray of radiance like the sun
to shine on those in our midst and
the still unborn in this hour of our great need.”
He poured down like a cleansing rain,
Healing pain, washing stains of red
From seas of black and white.
While King had a dream of freedom at last
Malcolm said justice would come to pass
When the chickens came home to roost.
But Trane began to believe the power lay
Not in either way, but instead in music’s fray.
He believed melody could heal the sick.
He believed arpeggios could summon the rains.
He believed that, in his tonal dissonance
Was a cosmic constant, a Divine being,
A key to nature’s geometry
Reflecting life’s asymmetry,
Like the nectar from a healing tree,
Music was life in a dying world.
Transcending the style of his years
Transcribing the elliptical, orbital patterns
That gathered order into all matter,
Transposing the audible life stream
From dream to daylight,
From fantasy to true sight
His second heaven was life-bread, leavened
By perfect consciousness
Of a Love Supreme.