John Brantingham


With Coltrane on the Great Western Divide

 

                                     Munro Galloway

                                    Munro Galloway

coltrane starts playing in my head

as i cross over the falls

coming off precipice lake

 

up here too high even for frogs

and no trees and nothing that moves

that i can see except

 

for the little saffron spiral bugs

who live in this water

that fades from clear to blue to green

 

and coltrane’s blowing in my head

as the winds are blowing in my ears

and i can barely breathe up here

 

so my early morning trot

up this mountain is down to a plod

and i climb out of the bowl of lake

 

and up the other side

up to this place called kaweah gap

this low spot on the great western divide

 

and look on one side at the paternoster lake

i’ve just climbed out of

and on the other down at the broad arroyo

 

down at those little rings of fox tail pines

here and there scattered on a world

of brown grass until they reach

 

into the lodgepole forest

somewhere a mile below me

and then i realize what’s been playing

 

through my head all this morning

and coltrane’s there singing to me alone

because i’m the only one

 

in this wide world except

for those little buddhist monk bugs

dancing to his sax

 

in the water

and he’s singing

that part of the song

 

a love supreme

a love supreme

a love supreme

 

over and over and he’s right

and i know just exactly

what he means


John Brantingham's work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, The Best Small Fictions 2016, and he's had hundreds of poems and stories published in magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom. His newest poetry collection, The Green of Sunset, is from Moon Tide Press and he is the co-editor of the L.A. Fiction Anthology from Red Hen Press. He is the writer-in-residence at the dA Center for the Arts and he teach poetry and fiction at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and Mt. San Antonio College.