“this is our music – for ornette coleman” by steve dalachinsky

it’s all science fiction the virgin said while rambling through beauty seeking peace
beauty which is such a rare thing beauty that permeated every embracing & terrifying note that echoed through her lover’s plastic horn
she was a lonely woman yet she knew she was free & invisible
as she waited for the blues to leave her focus always on sanity
but who’s sanity what sanity? she wondered as she waited for another eventuality
that might hopefully eventually quench her tears inside
might sustain both mind & time another new anthem a place in space for the artist
a paid holiday for heroes as they all hover precariously above the skies of America themselves wondering always wondering: WHO’s CRAZY ??? WHO’s CRAZY ? WE CRAZY ? US CRAZY? – WE’RE CRAZY US CRAZY?????
while tone dialing in the sound museum making that long distance LOVE CALL
from Texas to L.A. to the Caravan of Dreams to the hectic dreamy nightmare of New York:
“HELL-O New York hey NY how are you NY? / where are you NY?”
& New York replies – I AM HERE NOW – & NEW YORK IS NOW – Eternally NOW
& yesterday today tomorrow & this jungle is a sky scraper >

you always showed compassion with your angel voice
in the upbeat summer the cold dread winter
drawing on brightness pathos the ultimate donut of sadness
dappled always in sharpness – suited for the occasion which was YOU
your arrival the elements those short shifting coos
the harmolodic / (e)quality of every SOUND / the birds in sync with the traffic
the rain the dogs & cats & babies’ howls all in sync / all equal
rockin the clock – playing from SOUNDS & not from NOTES –
& sound sound is everywhere – your SOUND – a blessing
always a CRISIS but Never in CRISIS

i misquote – all together we’re all together but who’s crazy – US????
life’s reception love SEX ideals open web of conception -
heart beat’s long & short – the lovers alchemists poets & stars
all colors no colors oh those hip wild quietly flaming jackets
always you the dapper one – artist man human being –
contemporary – ancient – traditional – futuristic
brave circular traveler traveling out toward INNER SPACE & the space between SPACES – your sound encompassing the SHAPE OF JAZZ TO COME

i met you thru your music as a kid while you helped to change a century
& when i discovered jazz abstractions with you dolphy & others i was beyond hooked all praise to Gunther Schuller up there with you and the others
creating perhaps a 4th stream this very moment

later in years we met in person at that bodega on prince st
hello mr coleman hello you said quietly politely back
we went about the business of buying groceries & went our separate ways
then we met on the street so many times so many congenial conversations
& when i offered you my first book you took it smiled signed it for me & gave it back
wow what am i to do? i thought – that book lost somewhere now in poetry land
& then your gigs your hellos your smiles your gentle hand shakes & pats
& later john rogers bringing me to the loft where i gave you my newest cd
& you wanted to hear it immediately & the cd player wouldn’t work
& you got quietly agitated & disappeared into the bedroom for ½ an hour
then all of a sudden turned up and started to defrost the refrigerator
then you brought us juice & cookies & told us your secrets & philosophies
shhhh steve these are things that are not for the ears of children or saints
though possibly applicable to soldiers
you Ornette a true soldier of PEACE as you form a golden circle around our souls
a circle of snowflakes & sunshine & morning songs & riddles
of faces & places & echoes of DAWN

You always questioned tomorrow because you knew that tomorrow was -
is still & always will be the question – that it all comes down to something else but what IS that something else Ornette? OH i get it now: it’s THAT WE”RE ALL CRAZY WHO”S CRAZY??? US ??? yes US – WE”RE ALL CRAZY

you helped free jazz from itself by creating FREE JAZZ
that cover with Pollock’s painting that furthered my desire to explore
when i was still so young so vulnerable so alive
yet i am still young as you are too STILL so STILL now young & FRESH
& you leave us always dancing in our heads your head all heads in all languages this equality of SOUND SOUND organic & ALIVE so very much ALIVE

& we all become little symphonies as we try to live the good life
& you repeat to us always that this is something else that this is FREE that this is JAZZ that we are free beings human beings that this is SCIENCE & FICTION & GEODESIC & bigger than us all That this is OUR MUSIC bright in mind & spirit OUR MUSIC angel VOICE – OUR MUSIC – unshackled & FREE – OUR MUSIC –
she weeps she chants she wails she waits – & though these blues will never leave
we will always be left with the fact the truth that this is OUR MUSIC – this is our music our music our music

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Steve Dalachinsky is a New York downtown poet. He is active in the poetry, music, art and free jazz scenes. He delivered this eulogy poem to the musician Ornette Coleman on 27 June 2015 at Coleman’s memorial service at the Riverside Church in New York City.

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