Jack B Bedell
Jack B Bedell is Professor of English and Co-ordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University, where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s poetry has appeared in Southern Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Cotton Xenomorph, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain and other journals. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm. Jack was Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017 to 2019.
All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature,
and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws.
~ John Coltrane ~
In Coltrane’s circle, all tone
shares a common ancestor.
The vibrations between F and F#
wave in invitation. Tremolos
whisper desire, not dispute,
and every pitch shares a bit of itself
with its neighbor, like electrons
swapped during the intimacies of physics.
Even when scales cannot
reconcile themselves geometrically,
we can choose to hear them
together. We can transpose
the culture of sound, make room
for the diminished and the supertonic.
These connections yearn to be
made, even if our ears resist.
How much of ourselves
do we leave with each other
taking the same seat on a bench, or
grabbing the same spot on the handrail
to pull our weight upstairs?
We share the breeze, the noise
it carries. The space between us,
never empty, is full of us.
No matter how many blossoms I point out
exploding overhead on our neighborhood walk,
my daughter isn’t buying it. She’s in love
with the sound of bougainvillea, thinks
the word’s so pretty, there’s no way
it stands for something real. She believes
I made it up, strung long vowels
and kissy, soft consonants on a strand
of rhythm to make her giggle. I wish
I could tell a story that would win
her faith, but learn to let it lie. Some truths
beg for a fight. Some would rather
echo on branches in crooked light
while you just walk off holding hands.
… like oysters observing the sun through the water,
and thinking that thick water the thinnest of air.
~ Herman Melville ~
Sometimes the truth hides in the wide open
of a shorn cane field, and no matter how you stare
its lines will refuse to define themselves. They’ll pulse
in the dull breeze, and spread like ribbon snakes
across furrows in the dirt until the whole ground
blends and furls in waves. Squint all you want,
or close the distance on foot. What’s there to see
won’t shine any brighter. Open yourself
to the field’s expanse like a shell in salt water.
Purge your questions before they pearl.