“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.”
– Martin Mull(?)
At first, we’re told, guttural cries
were what passed for expression.
Passed is not the right word, but professional
critics often rule out categories, deny
expression after the fact, and have tried,
from Mozart to Schoenberg, to call attention
to the various sins against form, the tension
between the old skins and new wine.
Schoenberg, for his part, had no use
for laws that came after the fact,
said they burst under special kinds
of tests — exceptions which make us loosen
rules disprove their need. He backed
off to be free of a tonal bind.
He backed off to be free of a tonal bind
of his own making — tired of being
a test case poster child, perhaps,
or just to hear an audience
understand again. Now we do
dance about architecture, expanding
criticism to throw the rope around the free form
and strangle it.
The jazz cats
cut class when they passed
out theory blue books. Nuts
to the squares who have to sit
with a slide rule and figure out
Coltrane blowed a G#13
just to know, just to get back
to the guttural cry, to every
Originally written in the ’90s, and I’ve been tinkering with it ever since.
It wasn’t that important to solve anyway,
which is good, because it doesn’t yield
to analysis or much of anything.
Even in physics we learned one can observe
vector or velocity, not both,
which leaves room for something. Call it God,
but not the god of flannel cutouts in cigar boxes,
musty Sundays, leading us to ever more thinking.
But it’s not nothing.
Or if it is, it’s the type of nothing
expressed in the tired old lines:
Have you seen my wife?
Is she about 5’2″, red haired, wearing a blue sweater?
That’s her! Have you seen her?
No, man, I haven’t.
“Found” Line-sestina: Cologne Cathedral’s Stained Glass Window, Gerhart Richter, 2007
It could have well been placed in a mosque or a synagogue.
– Cardinal Meisner, archbishop of Köln, objecting to the commission of the window.Read More »
I’m sitting in this motel room
with a notebook and a pen,
writing angry notes
to God and Angelina.
I don’t know where I can send them off
so I guess I’ll tear them up
and the whiskey contains all the proof I need.
It’s heading south tonight on a northbound train.
And I don’t know how it can be this hot and not rain.Read More »
During her speech, the nutritionist had said
we can only begin with where we are
speaking of a gradual reduction of fried chicken in our diet
When question time came I rose and asked:
Were you consciously evoking Wendell Berry’s
line we can only begin with what has happened
Read More »
My father at the breakfast table with Mom,
hanging up the phone: “Well, Dean is gone.”
My mother’s damn-you tears: how can you?
What else could he do? The time he called
to tell me about our friend who’d been
electrocuted, we were crossing the state line,
my wife and I, the young childless couple
heading back from vacation, and he said:
“There’s no good way to tell you this…”Read More »