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Posts Tagged ‘music’

            with gratitude for Dennis McNeil

Every night now as I make dinner in Colorado,

I listen to a tenor sing live from his back porch

in California near the coast.

While I chop onions and chard

and sip on sauvignon blanc,

he belts tunes from Oklahoma

and Phantom of the Opera,

patriotic songs and Frank Sinatra,

and I sing along, my small soprano lifted

by his generous voice that baptizes the room.

This is the world I believe in—

a world ringing with beauty.

A world where people share their gifts

with strangers, knowing our lives

depend on this.

Between songs, he toasts us with gin,

and smiles. I return his toast with wine.

This is the way we carry each other

through difficulties, one song at a time.

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Please pretty darlin’, do not cry.

            —Paul McCartney, “Golden Slumbers” adapted from Thomas Dekkers’ “Cradle Song”

 

 

And if the candle noticed

that I played the song six times,

it didn’t say anything.

 

And if the pan were aware

that I struggled to find a harmony,

it kept the failure to itself.

 

And if the kitchen noticed

that I continued to sing the song

long after the recording was done, well—

 

The onion did its best

to mask any tears

that no one was there to see.

 

And if once there was a way

to get back homeward, well,

perhaps, perhaps it will appear again.

 

 

 

*To listen, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbcvf8a5BwM

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Nada

 

written at the Carmelite Monastery in Crestone, CO

 

 

It holds everything, silence,

offers itself as a blank staff

on which every song it written—

the tiny hymn of insect wings,

the baritone of the jet as it flies

from one measure of sky to the next,

the dry requiem of rustling grass,

the emphatic chorus of crow.

 

How generous, silence,

am I willing to know it?

How it includes even the cough,

the belch, retching, the wailing,

the snarl, the scream, the shatter,

and scores these in concert with the hum,

the lush purr, the whisper of the lover,

the ecstatic tremulo of sigh.

 

There is no sound it refuses to hold.

Its patience is infinite.

So when we, like weary pilgrims,

tired of hearing the percussion

of our own footsteps, arrive at its doors,

silence receives us, welcomes us home.

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Remedy

 

 

 

Not tea, not pills,

not herbs, not tinctures,

not creams, not salts,

not drops, not injections—

what the heart needs

tonight is a song

so true that its cells rhyme

themselves with the beat.

Tonight, the only medicine

this tired heart needs

is to listen.

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One Fermata

 

the music will last

forever, but who will be

here to dance to it?

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One Recipe

 

 

 

making my mother’s cookies

with my mother—

the same recipe, sweeter

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yet another poem inspired by this composition by Erik Satie

 

 

You wonder why I haunt you

like moonlight, why I come to you

like morning fog, dream thick and cool,

why I steep myself into your thoughts

like bergamot in black tea.

You wonder why I seldom leave you,

why I slip into your silences

the way rye darkly slips into bread.

 

It is my work to give you shivers,

make you tremble, make you still.

It is my work to make you fall in love

with the darkness inside yourself. It is my work

to be the unexpected black swan, and you,

it is your work to be the night pond.

 

 

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Things are gonna get brighter.

            —”Ooh Child,” The Five Stairsteps

 

 

In the photo, the girl is smiling.

I know all she is hiding.

 

If I could talk to her now,

I wouldn’t tell her much.

 

Wouldn’t warn her about

which boys will break her heart.

 

Wouldn’t tell her which jobs to avoid,

which years will last decades,

 

which friends will lie, which

day she should pay close attention.

 

But I would tell her that Nina Simone

was right when she covered The Five Stairsteps.

 

That things will be brighter.

The young me wouldn’t believe it, of course.

 

Because the healing hasn’t happened yet,

she has stopped believing it’s possible.

 

I might could slip that song into her

cassette mix. Even if she didn’t believe the lyrics,

 

she’d sing along. That’s the way she is.

And the words would land

 

in the branches of her heart

like the truest lyrics do. And build a nest there.

 

And when she lost her voice,

and when it got dark,

 

they would sing to her about the brightening.

Yeah, they would sing. They would sing.

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With Amazement

–listening to Erik Satie’s Gnosienne #2

 

stepping into morning

as if it is a song

each footstep a note—

all day I tiptoe through spaces and lines

all day I am wondrously held by the rests

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One Staff

 

 

 

all those beautiful notes—

letting them fall from the score

and not rushing

to arrange them again,

listening as new songs arise

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