APRIL QUESTION

APRIL QUESTION

 

When birdsongs are slowed

they are not music but

 

imperatives, challenges, 

summonings, complaints.

 

If our whinings and shoutings

and ragings were slowed,

 

would we hear them,

I wonder, as song?

 

 

If you’re interested, here’s where the idea came from::  https://www.workplacegallery.co.uk/video/20/)

SWAN LAKE

SWAN LAKE

 

I was washing the supper dishes,

and on the radio came “Swan Lake.” 

Since I don’t dance, I conducted. 

As I waved my dishcloth in time,

it dawned on me like slow winter sunrise

that Pyotr was himself a swan

trapped by his times in the form 

of a bearded man. 

                                 If he lived today

he could dance in feathers and white satin, 

caught and steadied by a beautiful prince.

No sorcerer would do him harm.

He would be full of grace and celebration.

And at the end, he would ascend 

above the Lake, and shine. 

BACH HEARS FOR THE FIRST TIME A JAZZ IMPROVISATION ON “SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE”

BACH HEARS FOR THE FIRST TIME 

A JAZZ IMPROVISATION ON “SHEEP MAY SAFELY GRAZE”

 

How—how do you do that?

The beat that stays and breaks,

the theme there but not there,

inverting, stretching, sideways.

Is it sideways? And that bass line,

as if walking on organ pedals,

—that pace. Now you’re turning

it again, aren’t you? Around

the progression but there’s a—no,

wait! Oh, the intervals holding

the tension! Oh, please, please!

Show me how it’s done!

 

IN CHORUS

IN CHORUS

When we sing, we sing. We become

the song. Notes have ceased to matter.

Our heart beats the pattern, the shape

 

of the time, the space of the spiral

where we stand.   We drink harmony

from the fountain;  we’re held

 

in the great mystery’s form. Farewell

to self-entanglement. We’re bending

like willows. The valley rejoices.

 

Unlonely, we journey through the night.  

As each stone adds its voice

to the singing of the stream,

 

even our troubles flow like love.

We are beautiful and good.

All our mouth is filled with music.

MUSIC LESSON

MUSIC LESSON

 

Hafiz, sing with me. Do you play banjo

or hurdy-gurdy? Can you sing in Polish

or Greek? We never sang around the table, 

here in Vermont or anywhere, not even 

in Warsaw when we were all pleasantly drunk

on Jarek’s soul-cleansing vodka. What will 

it take to make us sing? Hafiz, I need 

to know your ecstasy and I can’t drink 

that much anymore and if I spin, I fall 

down dizzy and sick. I’ll have to make do 

with walking while all around me the amber 

ash leaves swirl and the maple trees bleed,

and the memory of a great-horned owl sings

from the pines in the woods across the way.

 

I’ve been rereading the poems of Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

THE LAST SONG

Last night, the chorus I sing in had its last practice with our long-time conductor. I wrote this this morning, thinking of her and our time together:

 

THE LAST SONG

~for Susan Borg

Every song is the last.

How can I keep from singing

that group in the church loft,

remember? and we stopped

and looked around, amazed.

No audience but ourselves.

Francois and Chuck over the rainbow,

with tears in their eyes and our eyes.

Hallelujah on New Year’s Eve

and the audience sang, too.

Hearth and Fire that last night,

all together, my voice breaking

as I met your eyes. Every song

is the last—each song, each time,

these singers, where they are,

what they carry, what they hold,

what they let go.