4/4 TIME

Musicians have a clock
that runs on its own time
and all that is constant
is the beat, in four
second increments.
They start, they say,
when the music
is ready, never before
and music is fickle:
tonight it wanted to sit
off stage and rest
an hour, another night
it begins precisely
as advertised
and it ends, always
and invariably,
after the last note
plays itself.

SEOUL MUSIC

The hardest part of getting old
isn’t the near constant aches and pains
but the senses that slip away,
replaced by an ever deeper truth.
She says to really play the blues
on piano you must have Seoul
and listening to her, you agree,
although you aren’t sure if hers
is Gangnam-gu or Jung-gu, but
the distinction is a fine one,
and she plays with a heart and voice
that you could only hope to find
in Insa-dong, recalling history
and hardship in each note, each run.
It is only later you realize
she said soul, but hers was
forged in Seoul, so it is really
a difference without meaning.

ROBERT ALLEN ZIMMERMAN IN HELL

 

Baby Blue stormed
into the room.
Jones never saw 
her coming, was
totally confused.
Angry didn’t cover
even the half of it.
“I’ll tell your sorry ass
when it’s over Jones
and not the other
way around, got it!?
Oh, yeah, and by the way
you are really
packing on the pounds
of late, so pretty soon
you’ll just have
to change your weary tune
like it or not.”

GALLERY (IN) CONCERT

Kandinsky, Braque, Matisse and Degas
all stand patiently in the hall
wondering if anyone, this night,
will notice them as they always
seem to do, while Motherwell and Pollack
lurk around the corner, feigning
indifference, dreading being ignored.
The sound check is long ago complete
and the three men sit in the cafe
lost in the crowd, sipping wine,
a beer, a soda as the last of the meals
are consumed and people file out
and up the stairs to the auditorium.
Picasso stares up in wonder
as the piano comes to life,
carrying us all on a wave
that undulates across the strings.
The bassist crosses the bridge,
darts back, and we stare slack-jawed
as his fingers defy our eyes
and expectations. The drummer
brushes off our questions and solos,
content to carry the music
lightly in his hands as Calder
is left to twist gently in the breeze.

CZERNY IN HELL

Mrs. Schwarting lived in a small cottage.
Mrs. Schwarting taught piano in her living room.
Mrs. Schwarting had no first name, even
checks were to be made payable to “Mrs. Schwarting.”
Mrs. Schwarting grew suddenly old, some said,
to fully fit into her name, no one could
remember her ever being young.
Mrs. Schwarting said I must always find Middle C,
that everything starts there.
Mrs. Schwarting was not pleased when I said
that Middle C was key number 40 on my piano
of the 88 that I carefully counted,
and there was no middle key, only
a gap between E4 and F4.
Mrs. Schwarting looked at me sternly
and ended my lesson early that day.
Mrs. Schwarting was a great teacher.
I think of her each time I sit down
and place the djembe between my knees.

THE MUSIC OF SPRING

The music hides, just out of sight,
beyond the edge of hearing.
We assume it must be something by Mozart
or at least Bach, a tocatta and fugue,
swallowed by the trees, the cardinal singing
faintly, mirroring the tune,
but there is only the wind
meandering throught the pines
which have cast off the weight
of winter and patiently await
the fullness of spring, swaying
and singing a song to the night.