Neighbor Tones – Jack B Bedell

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.


Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. His latest collection is No Brother, This Storm (Mercer University Press, Fall 2018). He has recently been appointed by Governor John Bel Edwards to serve as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019.

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Image: via Pixabay

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