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Posts Tagged ‘singing’

for Heartbeat, singing together since 1994


Every week we sang, sang blues
and ballads, folk songs,
rounds, pop songs, jazz,
love songs, chants. And we
didn’t just sing, we touched
and hugged, leaned in and loved,
ran our fingers through the waves
of each other’s hair, laughed till we peed,
and jostled and shoved and teased
and offered tissues and kissed cheeks
and brought the shared melodic air
into our bodies and returned it
into the room in currents of ecstatic song.
Oh we sang, how we sang, as if
singing were a life raft that kept us afloat
on the aching broken world.

Now, I sing alone in the kitchen.
Sometimes I’m haunted by the part
I sing—a harmony line unanchored
by the melody. With no tonic,
the tune feels off. There is so much
that’s missing, that’s lost.
Sometimes I make up a new song
and sing about what is here. 
Good morning, hummingbird.
Good morning, loneliness. Good
morning big empty room.
The air holds the notes like shimmering drops
that sometimes leak out of my eyes
when I think of how we sang, the music
a life raft, and your voices, my friends, the oars.

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lyrics from "The Tide Is High" by John Holt, 1967
           
 
Something about the unsinkable reggae beat,
and in just three notes, I’m again my young self,
dancing alone in my bedroom,
singing as if I am one with the song,
as if it were written just for me,
 
I’m not the kind of girl
who gives up just like that, oh no, oh!
 
And singing it now on a Sunday afternoon,
I’m caught in a surprise riptide of joy
and start to lilt around the room,
though just moments ago I was weeping,
buried beneath the salt of worry,
 
but here I am, dancing alone,
hips rocking, my shoulders a rolling sea,
my voice surfing above the bright swell of trumpets.
 
The tide is high but I’m holding on.
 
Sometimes a song is a lifeline,
not because it pulls me out of the water,
but because it tosses me deeper in,
and I feel I’m no longer trapping myself
in a life the size of a teacup—
 
no, in this moment I am oceanic,
an Atlantic of joy, a Pacific of wonder
vast enough to hold everything,
and the tide is high
and all that salt only makes me more buoyant
as I play in the generous waves.

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            for Heartbeat

If I said we sat in a circle

in an open air room made of stones

with tall arched windows

and night sky for a dome

and drank wine and laughed

and teased and wept,

if I said we then sang by candlelight

until the milky way

spilled into our throats

and our voices swirled like vines

that twine and tendril to climb themselves,

if I said how, when we sang our last song,

the wind rustled in the aspen

in quiet applause and then stilled

and a shooting star unspooled

its bright fleeting ribbon, well,

I would barely believe it myself

that the world could feel so full of beauty,

except I was there and felt

the night as it cradled us,

felt that vine take root, still taste

just a bit of that milky way in my thoughts

creamy, nourishing, vast.

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Perhaps we stumbled

on the words, perhaps

we forgot a note,

forgot a bridge,

bumbled our entrances,

fumbled our parts,

but we sang, oh yes,

we sang into the low golden light

of summer, sang

because joy, because

harmony, sang because

lonely, because fear,

sang because, tears

spilling down our cheeks,

we could sing, oh friends,

before we said goodbye,

we could sing.

 

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All day the world improvises

a song for me—song of bickering robins

and whispering grass, bright chime

of a text and gravel trucks that grumble

on the highway as they pass.

 

The song I would sing for you, let it be

as spontaneous as the chattering

of the cat watching hummingbirds,

as sharp as the flap of the flag in the wind.

Let me not sing the same song I’ve sung before.

 

This is the time to sing it new, to sing

the song we didn’t know we were brave enough

to sing. This is the time to sing

the most honest song, thorn song,

green song, yelp of relentless shine.

 

This is the time to sing as if our lives

depend on it, sing the song

that comes out of attending.

Song of pushing through dirt.

Song we don’t know yet.

 

 

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            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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cross-state road trip—

traveling with my daughter

three miles per song

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for Heartbeat

 

 

singing

the same song,

again,

but this time

the melody

finds in me

a closed,

forgotten place

and sings light

into its tightness

until where

there were walls,

now wings

 

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We sat in the pew

furthest back in the church.

My father would hum all the hymns

 

and I’d lean closer to him and hum along,

then lean toward my mother

and sing with her the words—

 

I swayed between them like a metronome,

humming, then singing, then

humming, then singing.

 

How giddy I was, grateful to be the girl

between them. I did not yet know how

difficult it was to be a parent.

 

I only knew how good it felt

to be loved, how safe I felt between them,

how delighted I was to find in myself

 

some part of each of them,

so delighted that even now,

over forty years later

 

and a thousand miles away,

I remember that night

and begin to sway.

 

 

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for seven hours

the whole house smells of apples—

even the song I sing

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