Daily Archives: December 18, 2017

Maestro, Virtuoso, Aficionado

Revised from 2011.

In the hands of a virtuoso 
even a decayed instrument, 
ignored for years, attic-bound,
can make a music strong enough 
to bend walls.

my maestro
play on 

I don’t claim the title for myself 
but my age being its own reward
and punishment at once,
I live toward the words 
maestro and virtuoso 
as if they were mine to use.

I am aficionado

I am waiting 

What do I call myself now when,
with my instrument all but played out,
I cannot help but seek a clarity
in the use of a single string?

I am obsessed with the hunt

I am forsaken

I’ve been told that nothing made on the single string
is performable,
but here I find myself facing an audience
who expect performance.

I am the impression of you only

In command of the single note
and — of course, now I see!  
In command of the silence
around it, 

I am aficionado
I cannot stop this
Am no virtuoso

Can one perform silence?  
On stage, perfected, I do nothing.
The audience expects something —  

but how to replace this?

The Stick

When I was a boy
we had a washing machine
too small for the loads
we stuffed it with and by the side
of the washing machine

we kept a maple stick
cut from a tree we’d cut before that
to heat the house

and when we washed clothes
we’d come back into the basement
after it started and use that stick
to push the dry clothes down
into the water and the suds.

Over time it became smooth
and was bleached white and all
the bark was worn away as if it had
been whittled. It may sit there
in my parent’s home
next to the machine still as far as
I know,

but I am certain that I have become
like that stick that I have suddenly recalled
out of nowhere for no apparent
reason. Maybe I feel whittled
by the constant wash of living like this,
living a life too small
for the loads it’s been asked to handle,
stuffed with them over and over and yes,
I’ve been worn to a splinter trying to cope,

but I’m still here, 
a bleach-sanded artifact
of what was once 
a grown-up, cut down
and sectioned out
and plunged over and over into 
agitation, but somehow
useful still, and perfected
for my purpose, and good
to the touch;

how can anyone say
neither the stick nor I
have not fulfilled
our destiny?

Satisfied And Entertained

A small thudding
in the room. One of
the cats is staring
at the window.

One of the daily woodpeckers
is on the feeder and it’s quiet enough
to hear the bird — can’t tell if it’s
the male or the female — slamming 
its beak through the grid into the suet
over and over again.
I get close enough to see it’s the 
male and his partner’s out on the
farther feeder doing the same.

I don’t know much of them for certain, of course.
I know their colors and what the books
tell me they mean. I know there’s one
of each human-gendered example out there
and they come every day like this to feed.
I don’t know if they are a mating pair
or even if it might be different pairs
switching off all season long.  
I know both cats are fascinated by them
and I might be too.  I don’t know
why it matters or why I become anxious
on the rare days they do not visit. 

I know that even when I’m dead broke
I keep suet and seed cakes in full supply.

I don’t know where the money to pay the bills
is coming from 
but I know two cats and two birds
who stay satisfied 

and entertained
and when the fat gets low outside,
I know how fast I step into the snow and cold
to fill it up again.

One Week From Thursday

As matter-of-factly as could be,
they announced the Closure

everyone had been seeking
would be here very soon,

on a yet to be determined date.
No one had really ever thought

they’d get there in this lifetime,
but here it was, officially, with fanfare,

paper rain, and balloons. Closure
at last. The Emotional 

End Game would be played
to a stop on a big field, nationally and 

globally broadcast, and no 
ties would be allowed. There would be

clear winners and obvious losers,
appropriate prizes and genuine remorse.

We got ready. Cleaned out
the closets and pulled strings of lights

from the basements, tried to cobble
up some festivity for this once in a lifetime

festival of Closure. We sat the kids down
and told them back stories to explain

why Closure was so important. We had
threads and comments running 

for days, so much so that social media
shut down frequently, and we scrambled 

off to cafes and bars to keep the dialogue
going. Some tried to squeeze in

complicated developments of ongoing
dramas to get them included in what was coming;

some dug up the past, some projected
into the future. Truth be told,

none of us knew what to expect
until yesterday when with great ceremony

they came forward and told us Closure would happen
a week from Thursday after the sun

goes down, after the lights come on;
then we’ll see a show.  

For now we’re all just sitting 
tight. No one’s fighting,

sighing or grieving much. We hold
tight to those we love in a semblance

of peace and harmony. Nod to each other
on the street. Make love as needed

and agreed upon, step into solitude
whenever we desire.  Closure is

on the way. We don’t know how it will feel
but we are practicing, and uneasy lie the heads

that must shut all these open, creaking doors
one week from Thursday, once and for all.