FUGUE

The name on the door
says Richard Strauss
though the lack of music
emanating from within the room
suggests he may be napping
or off doing something more important
than entertaining those of us
out in the hall of the nursing home.
It’s no surprise, he’d be
in a home now, more odd that
he isn’t long dead, but music
has a life of its own, so too musicians.
Johann Bach and I discussed this
just other night, though he
said he has little use
for so much of today’s music,
“It all went to Hades after Wolfgang,
Ludwig and Johannes, but
what do I know, since I am now
just one more of the ancients.”
Johann added, “I’d like to stay
and talk, but when you
are my age, well, tempus fugit,
and I must, therefore, bid you farewell.”
I slid quickly back into
the fugue state of my dreams.

SPACED OUT

I laughed at my parents
when they talked about a typewriter
as something of a marvel
when they were so commonplace.
Of course as a boy, half the fun
of helping my father at work
was knowing the mimeo ink
would stain my fingers purple
for a week and even borax
would only render them lilac.
And the wet process copier
with the pink tissue paper sheets
seemed utterly remarkable.
10 rem Then I found the computer
20 rem and I could make a machine
30 rem actually do my will
return without gosub.
Now it seems so archaic as I look
back at my own life
all the while transferring
180 jazz albums
to the thumb drive
I will put in the car.
What would Stanley Turrentine
have thought of all this.

NOTELESS

He says, “I write songs
without music, my head
is a libretto warehouse.”
She says, “You string words
like random beads, no
two strands the same.”
He says, “Symmetry is
for those with linear minds,
who can’t see out of the tunnel.”
She said, “Dysentery
is a disease to be avoided
particularly by poets.”
He says, “I’ll sing a song
for you, if I can only
find the notes.”
Se says, “fine, but know
it is the silent spaces between
the notes where music truly lives.

PRECISELY

 

On the radio this morning
the DJ played the classic
“In the Midnight Hour,” and I
pause to reflect on the fact
that midnight is a moment
and cannot be an hour,
by definition, since the halfway
is only a point, not a range,
and you cannot put
a home on an hour, for time
waits for no man, and waiting
is what a home
is all about, and around.

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.