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Lay for the Day
9th March

The birthday of Ornette Coleman, born in Forth Worth, Texas, in 1930. His early albums had titles like Tomorrow is the Question and The Shape of Jazz to Come – and he was right. ‘Ramblin’’ is on Change of the Century, recorded in California in the autumn of 1959.

‘Rambling’, by the Ornette Coleman Quartet

A heavy enough cloud to travel days
across the different blues
of the differing skies of America,
rumbling and lightening,
a suitcase packed in the falling sun,
a son of the Pacific,

unseen, like the snake tracing its oblique track
or a blown leaf leaving,
and like Lemon Jefferson blind drunk
stumbling home over railroad ties
and Blind Lemon stone cold sober
picking out lean and stubborn, tumbling dances
and singing See That My Grave Is Kept Clean,

a tune that might form in the mind of one
who hears that rain rush
and wash Blind Lemon’s grave
and the cement of Fort Worth sidewalks,
who feels the lightning spoke before the thunder
and the black gasp from the cemetery gate,
the train rush and the cloud push on to deliver more rain,
in the steady rolling mind over the highway.

John Gibbens
from The Improvised Version, Vol. 2

The Lay Reader: an archive of the poetic calendar

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