Posts Tagged ‘song’

After a Difficult Day

Because my heart is aching,

I clean the stove. It’s covered

in dark brown stains, stains

so burned on they seem

to be part of the stainless steel.

Because I am practical, I wear

plastic gloves while I scour.

I know that the cleaner

would ripple my fingers and dry

my skin for days. And because

I would rather not cry right now,

I turn on my music and play

Joni Mitchell as loud as the speakers

will play. She always knows

just what to say. There are some

places now where the stovetop gleams

so silver it looks nearly new. There

are some stains I know, that no matter

how many hours I scrub,

they will never leave.

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I thread song through night—

silence follows each note,

unstitches every one

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a singer lasts a season long, while the song it lasts forever

            —“Good Friend,” Jan Harmon

oh bliss in being

this very bird hearing

a thousand thousand other songs

inside this one


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For the Ears of Your Ears

You can reach the innermost self of another by creating from the innermost self in you.
—Ken Paradis

Inside the song you are singing
is another song, the song you

are too timorous to sing. It has a secret
tune that only you know, though

sometimes you forget. No one
has taught the song to you,

and so when you lose the thread
of melody, you struggle to find it again,

and sometimes you find you’ve forgotten
that, too, how to retrieve the melody,

and so you begin to sing louder
some other common tune,

or perhaps you stop singing at all
and notice a widening hollow space

where the song would be.
There is no shame in this.

Silence is as much a part of song
as notes. And eventually

the song will give itself
back to you, will sing its melody

within your inner emptiness,
is more beautiful for the emptiness.

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Gretel Explains Herself

all those crumbs I left
on the path, it’s not
that I want to go back

it’s just that I happen to like
birdsong wherever I go

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Sing me fifty-five songs, love.
I am starved for song. It’s been winter
so long, so long and my ears are full of blue.

Sing me fifty-five songs, love,
one for each finger and one for each toe,
one for each rib and twenty-three more to wish on.

Sing me fifty-five songs, love.
I don’t care if they are in tune. And if you forget
the words, I will build a nest in your hum.

Sing me fifty-five songs, love.
And I will tuck them into my hair and wrap
them around my shoulders bare and toss them into the wind.

Sing me fifty-five songs, love.
Start now but take your time. And I will weave jonquils
between the notes to blossom each time you breathe.

Sing me fifty-five songs, love.
And sing me fifty-five more. I am starved for song,
the winter’s been long, and singing is what spring is for.

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Every Day

we need not worry
that we won’t survive … we won’t
until then, this song

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Cosi e’, se vi pare
(That’s the way it is, if it seems that way to you)
—Italian saying

Under my fingers,
the chords are familiar,
allegretto, in 2/4 time.
I lean into the ritardandos,
swelling the passing tensions,
failing to remember to exhale.
The lyrics, perhaps because
they are in German,
are beautiful. I can forget
that they speak of sleepless
nights and helplessness,
and dreams that languish
unfulfilled. My voice drifts
into the rafters. What
do I know of dreams?
There is so much I do not know.
Even this life I call my own.
What do I know of it?
Who taught them to sing,
the birds in autumn?
Who taught them to dance,
the leaves? Tonight, I do not see them,
the shadows my voice moves through
as I follow the staffs in front of me.
Nor do I think of translation. Nor
do I think of who is listening,
nor of who is not. For now,
there is Schumann and Heine,
there is this voice that is borrowing me,
there is this song that says
it must be sung.

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Example Haiku

flat gray sky
the chickadee sings
no less brightly

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for Ulli Sir Jesse

Surrounded with falling,
you choose joy.

Given a minor tune,
you change a note

and the melody, now major,
finds new gaps

in the day’s dark staves.
Given a lump, you dissolve it

with tears. In the face of loss,
you smile and offer your hand.

In the hail, you sing. In the dark,
you sing. And all along the trail,

you sing and invite the world
to sing with you. I will sing

with you. Though I weep,
I will sing with you. Though

you move father away, I sing
with you, I sing with you

wherever you go, I sing
because that is what we do,

we who know harmony
as one of the ladders

to god, we who feel how
the song sings us, and because

you have taught us
so beautifully, we sing,

though it sounds perhaps
more like gurgling tonight,

more like keening, or wailing,
we sing, gonna rise up, we sing.

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