Posts Tagged ‘music’


for Wallace Hartley and the musicians of the Titanic



And as the splendid ship began to list

and as the people scrambled on the decks,

the band struck up a ragtime tune, and next

they played an autumn waltz. Yes there, amidst

the screaming and the shouts, the band persisted,

giving to the night what they gave best—

the peace that comes from melody. They blessed

the crowd with song till waves consumed the ship.


How is it that they all agreed to stay?

Some artist’s creed? Some sense this was their gift?

Survivors say they heard the soaring staves

of hymns escort them as they rowed away—

still heard them as the aft began to lift.

And sink. Then nothing but Atlantic waves.


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and suddenly I’m singing

in the cereal aisle,

unable to turn the music up

and dancing anyway—

the words spin me

like old friends,

My older self looks back

at me and says,

that’s right,

move it sister

while you still hear

the music, while you still

can dance.

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with thanks to Kyra



Minor and slow,

the Russian death song

on the cello

fills the room

with loss and beauty,

the two rubbing

together like notes

side by side on the scale

played at the same time.

I lay on the floor

beneath the great instrument

and feel the waves of it

as if they originate inside me—

play it again, I beg

the cellist, and then,

when it’s done, I beg her

again, play it again,

And she does. And she does,

the warm notes filling

any chill they find.




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Somewhere inside the chirpy ditty

is an urgency. I hear it now, the hunger,

the way a woman who has spent thirty days

in the rain would long for the sun.

The way someone given only lemonade

for a week would crave a glass of water.

Judy Garland, Debbie Reynolds—

you found the sweetness in the song,

a cotton candy playfulness.

But Diana, you found the arching ache

and rendered it beautiful for even

the most satisfied woman.

The tempo, unstriving. The truth

in the need to take a breath

midsentence. Tonight, I cook

the king boletes in cream.

There is something of desire in them,

the way the sherry sings like a second melody

inside the earthy taste. Diana croons behind me,

summer, autumn, winter, spring,

and I feel the urge to breathe inside my breath,

the need to stir the sauce slower, slower.



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He sings in the corner,

the invisible cricket,

and each time I look for him,

he stops—


I don’t wish

to frighten the cricket,

I only want

to watch.


What is it in us

that wants to know details,

wants to analyze

how it is done?


And what is it in us

that says, close your eyes

and let the song

go on.

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scraps of rusted metal,

tumbled mine buildings,

splinters of fallen trees—


running clear and cold, the creek

makes music of everything





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Over and Over and Over




all day a song

insists on itself

like a lover who tugs and flirts

at the hem of a dress—

I let it have its way

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In the Midst of the Wreckage

Make in my heart a concert hall

where a single violin

plays on the vacant stage

reminding me in a minor key,

that one true song

touches every broken,

twisted, rotted thing

invites us to lean deeper into,

no, to fall completely

into the beauty

we stopped believing in.

Let me not just hear the song,

let me tear down the heart’s walls

so everyone can hear.

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Translate my body into song, a song
that only you know how to sing. Transpose
my thoughts in E flat major—key of love
and deepening devotion. Score my lips
in F sharp major—triumph over pain.
My heart, compose in G—idyllic, filled
with tender gratitude. And for my breath,
E major—laughing pleasure, full delight.

And I will sing you, too, my dear, will sing
in tones that only you can hear, will learn
to sing outside the staves—for they’re too much
like cages for the wilderness of you.
And let us improvise together, let
us sing beyond the measures, let us learn
new signatures, new ways of listening.

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Accidental Libretto

Oh hear that, love,

the night sky has become

an opera of blossoms.

The stars are opening

into song for anyone

who will listen.

As always, someone’s

heart is breaking,

someone’s getting even.

And someone’s love

is gaining wings.

And someone’s trapped

in prison. And all of us

are invited to be

singers in the chorus.

Or perhaps

to be the silence.

Or perhaps to write

the score. Oh darn

the world of daytime things

that keeps us from this art.

Let’s pretend that we don’t know

the end. Now’s the time

the start.

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