Saturday, February 14, 2015

Poetry about Famous Musicians: Playlist for February 13, 2015


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST OF THIS PROGRAM



 

callas lover

By  D. A. Powell 

 

 

this is the track I've had on REPEAT all afternoon:      she is butterfly

 

brilliant riband, rice flour face, silken, even her voice a sashed kimono

 

 

                             if I were foolish like her:   

 

                                          but aren't I foolish like her

 

                             spotting the coil of smoke and the billowed sail

 

                   against the verge of sky

 

 

simple on the rise surveying the anchorage:      simple me, signal me

 

dreading the confident assumption of return, dreading more

 

uncertain tone to come, the thinning notes, performance

 

too close to my own impatient—swells, a surge:      sick wind

 

 

but the emotion is, after all, an artfully conjured gesture

 

arranged marriage between a past ache and frail woodwinds

 

                             I could skip ahead

 

                                          could break the inconsolable loop

 

of harbor, waiting, overlook, waiting, inevitable waning eye

 

 

troubled robins, once more in the handkerchief trees

 

once more, brief aquarelle of triplet lilies, blue as willowware  

 

in that interval before his embrace falters, stuck, founders

 

              [shuffle play]    such a pitch of tenderness in the voice

 

                             such an awful lot of noise
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Un bel di vedremo, by Giacomo Puccini
 
 
 
 

 

False Portrait of D.B. as Niccolò Paganini

By  Michael Palmer  

 

 

Those who have lived here since before

 

time are gone while the ones who must

 

replace them have not yet arrived.

 

 

The streets are wet with a recent

 

rain yet you continue to count

 

first minutes and hours then trees

 

 

rocks, windows, mailboxes, streetlights

 

and pictographs refusing to

 

rest even for the brief span it

 

 

would take to dry off, change clothes and

 

reemerge grotesque yet oddly

 

attractive like Paganini

 

 

whose mother was visited by

 

a seraph in Genoa not

 

long before his birth and who is

 

 

thought now to have acquired much of

 

his technical wizardry as

 

a result of Marfan’s syndrome

 

 

a quite common anomaly

 

of the connective tissues which

 

may well account for the tall and

 

 

angular body, muscular

 

underdevelopment as well

 

as the hypermobile joints that

 

 

eventuated on the stage

 

in a peculiar stance, a

 

spectacular bowing technique

 

 

and an awesome mastery of

 

the fingerboard. He would bring his

 

left hip forward to support his

 

 

body’s weight. His left shoulder, thrust

 

forward also, would enable

 

him to rest his left elbow on

 

 

his chest, a buttress against the

 

stress of forceful bowing along

 

with debilitating muscle

 

 

fatigue. The looseness of the right

 

wrist and shoulder gave pliancy

 

leading to broad acrobatic

 

 

bowing. The ‘spider’ fingers of

 

his left hand permitted a range

 

on the fingerboard which many

 

 

attributed to black magic

 

for Paganini was said to

 

have signed a pact with Lucifer

 

 

to acquire virtuosity

 

as a small child. After his death

 

perhaps due in part to this tale

 

 

in part also to rumours of

 

gambling and wild debauchery

 

the Church refused to allow him

 

 

burial on hallowed ground. In  

 

consequence his body was moved

 

furtively from place to place

 

 

until after many years and

 

for reasons still mysterious

 

the Church finally relented.

 

 

A few paradoxes should be

 

noted as an afterward. Though

 

accused of charlatanism he

 

 

was rewarded for his skill like

 

no one before him. He loved his

 

violin above all yet once

 

 

he gambled it away at cards.  

 

He accepted wealth and renown

 

from his worshipping admirers

 

 

but tripled the admission price

 

to his concerts in the face of

 

adverse reviews. While openly

 

 

irreverent of tradition

 

he still took a princess as his lover

 

and let nations strike medals in his name.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC:  Caprice No. 24 by Nicolo Paganini

 
 
 

 

After Rachmaninoff
By Ralph Block

 

 
LIKE rain, that silvers out of a silent sky—

“So hard,” you said.

And I sent back my heart in a vain try

To hold below your voice

Some remnant memory of strange songs he played.
 
(These moments never quite return—

Not through all the years I’ll count and spend,

Or light tapers to old gods and watch them burn.)

 
“Like granite feet”—

You laughed, and then came back,
“Both light and strong,

A tracery of rock on rock.”

 
The moment opened wide and let me in.

I looked behind

As a man who plays with sin,
Knowing what it was I sought—

The “variation” he could never play,

That from his fingered keys would always stray

Uncaught.

 
“You seemed held deep
In thought”

 
I lied to that—confession’s cheap,

A lie’s a compliment—

And found myself wondering where to heap

New devotions that would keep
Your eyes in mine

In this strange experiment.

 
We were in a net

Of other people’s words:

They crossed us there like swords.
At last I tipped my hat

And felt your tension drop—

Hearts stop perhaps

Like that

 
No doubt you will forget
The evening when we remet:

For you a door had edged and closed

Upon a stranger awkwardly disposed

When I went out.

 
For me the days will live it through each time
In a kind of troubled rhyme—

When concert whispers rise and fall,

And other Russian preludes run

Up chromatic scales and down.

Repelled by chatter, and in vain,
I’ll watch the faces for a sign;

As when I held out hands and cried,

And of all the souls that faced my way

Only yours replied.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Prelude in G major, by Sergei Rachmaninov




 

Please Marry Me

By  Charles Baxter  

 

Please marry me. Your mother likes me.

         —Line spoken by an unknown woman, in a dream

 

We are stretched out on a dingy sofa, and I think

 

I must be barefoot because a woman whom no one knows

 

Is massaging the ankle of one leg of mine and the instep

 

Of the other, all this toward morning, and I have that

 

Occasional epiphany one has while still asleep

 

That I am floating down a river

 

Because I am so happy and all the dismal issues

 

Have been made tractable at last, and so I say to her

 

That the late symphonies of Gustav Mahler

 

Are more lucid if you’re sitting close to, and above,

 

The orchestra, so that you can see the contrapuntal

 

Lines moving from strings to woodwinds

 

And then back again, whereupon this woman,

 

Sitting (I now realize) at my feet, says, in the full

 

Heat of our dream life, and in that happiness,

 

“Please marry me. Your mother likes me,”

 

And so I wake, not laughing, although my mother

 

 

Has been dead for over thirty years, but in wonderment

 

Over what quality this dream-woman must have owned

 

To have pleased my mother so that she,

 

My late mother, would have said, despite her ban

 

On ordinary pleasantries, that she had liked someone,

 

Anyone, who might have cared for me, and as I lie

 

In bed I think of the last movement of Mahler’s Ninth

 

When the melodic lines go quiet for minute after minute

 

In a prolonged farewell to music and to life,

 

Which my mother would attend to in her bathrobe

 

Late at night, the stereo turned up, blended whiskey

 

In her highball glass mixed with milk as a disguise,

 

Leaning back, hand over eyes, silent-movie style

 

Like Norma Desmond listening as Von Stroheim plays

 

The organ wearing his white gloves. No, it wasn’t

 

Mahler, it was Schoenberg, Verklärte Nacht,

 

Moon-drunk music, mad and inconsolable.
 

REFLECTIVE MUSIC: Verklarte Nacht by Arnold Schoenberg 
 
 

 
For Miles
by Gregory Corso


Your sound is faultless
      pure & round
                  holy
      almost profound

Your sound is your sound
      true & from within
      a confession
      soulful & lovely

Poet whose sound is played
      lost or recorded
      but heard
      can you recall that 54 night at the Open Door
      when you & bird
      wailed five in the morning some wondrous
      yet unimaginable score?



REFLECTIVE MUSIC: A Night in Tunisia, performed by Charlie Parker & Miles Davis





Chet Baker In Paris


by Luis Lazaro Tijerina


In September of that year
when Paris had not yet turned her leaves
into pigments of dry reds and burnt umber,
you played your melodious trumpet sounds,
no mawkish phrases, no murmurings
sinking into the false twists, just cool jazz.
When all is said and done, no one
loved you more than your trumpet,
sending its small, lovely notes to the
night winds near Club St. Germain?

You played, “Those Foolish Things”,
“Tenderly” and “Summertime” with sad
trumpet walks on stage at the Salle Pleyel,
your phrases clear,
soft heat in April?
everything happening to you.
 
REFLECTIVE MUSIC: My Funny Valentine, performed by Chet Baker
 
 





 

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