Song for the Birth of Cool

by Philip J. Malebranche

At Saint Peter’s Church, in Manhattan, in December 2016, I had the privilege of reading a version of this poem. I had composed it for the occasion.

Horses pound the streets in the Bethlehem zone

Henchmen look for the first-born saxophone

No room in the inn, go away stranger

Why don’t you take the lady to the back-door manger?


The blood of murdered babies spills under door after door

The saxophone and the ass share the same floor

The big star points a finger at the place

Three men from the East for the King give chase


Mary sings praise for the Merciful One

Mothers wail over their massacred sons

Blood makes a father shudder and stumble

Bring down the rulers, Mary sings, and raise the humble


The new sax is born to save the downtrodden

Lift all who are weary and heavy-laden

Let justice roll down, for that let us feast

Hear the trumpet’s trill for the Prince of Peace


The angel Michael danced with courage

And sang like others in the prophetic lineage

He sometimes touted the saxophone boy

The source in the world of exceeding joy