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.

THE CRUELEST MONTH

THE CRUELEST MONTH

Here, it’s March.

The back door was opened.

Now it’s closed.

We don’t know what to wear,

where to turn.

The petals of yesterday’s crocuses

are frightened stiff today.

And Lent, of course,

our season of deprivation.

The less you eat, the longer you live.

 

The dog has to go out, never mind chill below zero.

On this deserted street, through my muffled head

I hear the nine o’clock bells ringing

from the steeple of the Federated Church.

An old familiar carol.

I stop to listen while the dog sniffs

a plastic tricycle left beside the sidewalk.

“The world in solemn stillness lay” is it?

“To hear the angels sing”? Yes.

A pause, and then “Once in Royal David’s City.”

Through carelessness or a great kindness,

through the misery of March,

Christmas rises triumphant.

Now, through the instability of things,

I need this wild sweet music so much more

than I did in December’s beginning time.

 

There is a time to sing,

to eat and drink abundance,

a time to remember the return of light,

youth and brilliance, salvation,

the givenness of everything.

There is no one else on the street,

so I begin to sing along:

with the poor, and mean, and lowly. . .”

The dog looks up at me, puzzling,

and wags her tail.

Winter Prompts #17 & #18

GRASS

Winter Prompt #17

Once there was grass,

dandelion and clover,

gill-over-the ground.

Once there was green.

 

It’s there, still,

under the frozen slush,

the snow. Under

the deep puddles,

the shallow ice lakes

that cover the pastures.

 

It will turn again;

it will grow green.

The commonplace

miracle.

Resiliance is reality.

 

EARWORMS

Winter Prompt #18

I slept well with no dreams I can recall.

When I awoke, I noticed first

the light on the ceiling

of the hotel room—or rather a light

and its dimmer double, down

and to the left—an alarm or sensor

blinking orange every half-minute.

I closed my right eye to make the double

disappear. My eye is not single,

I thought. I hardly remember

what that was like.  The light is one

though the lamps be many.  Then One light

ascending through four notes

and The light is one though the lamps be many

in a dominant chord

over the sitar, after the wandering

verses  I can’t remember. One light,

The light is one though the lamps be many.

That simple chorus like a child’s song.

Of course—O brilliant!—the Incredible

String Band’s search—scattered lights

of many lamps, patterns that don’t stick,

chordless rifts resolving into One light.

The light is one though the lamps be many.

Of course. ’Tis the gift to be simple.

A NAME

A NAME

. . . Surprise is a  name of God.

~Brother David Steindl-Rast

 

Who else would bring a pair of owls

to circle my head on New Year’s night?

Or a fox to the front step

just at sunset yesterday? Who

could have handed us a little child

with round cheeks, his mother’s mouth,

his daddy’s smiling eyes?

In the gray and icy drizzle of winter,

who else would have sent a foot of snow,

north wind to slice through our dismay?

Or gathered us together

and crowned us with roses,

taught us how to sing?

April prompt #26

April prompt #26

An adult who affected you strongly as a child

Janice’s #1

 

MRS. FARRINGTON KILLING THEORY

 

Tonic. Sub-dominant. Every Good Boy

Does Fine. The ruler across the knuckles.

The yellow notebook. Erasers balanced

on the hands. It is forbidden to play

by ear. I can read music in my sleep.

My hand position is old-style perfect.

I cannot improvise to save my life.

Playing Mozart, I always forget to breathe.