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F.F. Teague 05-19-2021 01:37 PM

Poemusical prompt
Please post poems inspired by music. (This could be providing lyrics to melodies, writing about a particular theme, or anything else.)

I'll start small-ish. This one's inspired by Mussorgsky's 'Gnomus' from Pictures at an Exhibition:


Tree axed to earth may gain rebirth in many carven shapes,
and from this holm jumps out a gnome intent on certain japes:
not planting blooms nor collecting 'shrooms nor casting rods for fish,
but cracking nuts to fill his guts is this one's fondest wish.

Come supper times, high up he climbs, and searches for his fare;
as dishes fly, shocked diners cry, 'Do mind my silverware!'
His eyes alight with pure delight upon the helpless snack;
he leaps, he gnaws, he clamps his jaws, the nut.. goes.. CRACK!

Brian Allgar 05-20-2021 02:37 AM

Here are a couple of pieces that appeared on Metrical a few years ago. This seems a good spot to give them another airing, although I should warn you that, most uncharacteristically, neither is at all humorous.

The Prince of Venosa

My thoughts on love? Good Sir, my wife betrayed me -
Yes, me, Gesualdo da Venosa, Prince,
And Count of Conza. She most foully played me,
So love’s a topic that revolts me since.

Her lover I dispatched by sword and gun;
On her, I used a well-honed hunting‑knife,
And when I saw that she was not quite done,
I slit the throat of my adulterous wife.

The only solace was my composition,
My madrigals, my sacred Tenebrae,
For music mitigates the soul’s attrition,
And, through the darkness, brings a glimpse of day.

My life has been both anguished and dramatic;
Perhaps that’s why my music’s so chromatic.


Mozart was dying - not, as he thought, poisoned;
Perhaps rheumatic fever? No one’s sure.
The Requiem that sounded in his head
Was still unfinished, fragments of a score
His swollen hands could not complete; instead,
He hummed to others all those themes that foisoned
Within his mind. The day before he died,
He sang the work with family and friends,
And wept in desperation when they came
To “Lacrimosa”. Who knows how it ends?
He left it incomplete, but all the same,
What music-lover can remain dry-eyed?

People have been too ready to condemn
His wife, Constanze, for the common grave
Outside Vienna where his corpse was flung.
But, sadly, Mozart never learnt to save,
And died in debt. His death was mourned unsung -
She had no money for a Requiem.

Ann Drysdale 05-20-2021 03:19 AM

Background Music

Ella sings “Is you is or is you ain’t”
But now I know and need no longer guess.
You ain’t. And now the soup is flavourless.

I talk too loudly. Ella sings again:
“you can’t be mine and someone else’s too”
Can’t fault you, Miss Fitzgerald; this is true.

Ella is in her element. She sings
“Miss Otis regrets”. Oh, Ella, so do I;
I’d give a lot not to have lunched today.

The fish is foul and the wine tastes of tar.
Ella is singing “all the things you are”;
I cannot think of anything to say.

Ella sings “every time we say goodbye”.
The sweetness leaches from the crème brulée.
I concentrate on trying not to die
A little.

Martin Elster 05-20-2021 01:05 PM


Buried in the Haiti earthquake of 2010, musician Romel Joseph recalled concertos to keep his sanity. —Miami Herald

Sibelius and Brahms will pull me through
the dark, the dust (though everywhere all strings
have snapped, gone mute) — and Beethoven — my true
companions. Once per hour my wristwatch rings

as if school were still in session. I remain
immobile, yet they’re bound to pull me through,
release me from the deafening shrieks of pain.
Are you not coming, friends? You’re overdue.

The walls, the beams, the nails cannot subdue
more than my flesh. In chambers of my mind
the old composers sing — they’ll pull me through.
They always have. Will someone go and find

the broken fiddle bows? I want to know:
where are the children hiding? All I view
are streams of tones before blind eyes. Their flow,
I’m confident, can pull — will pull me through.

(Appeared in Better Than Starbucks.)

Martin Elster 05-20-2021 01:06 PM

One Summer Day

An allusion to Beethoven

While walking through the woods one summer day,
he glanced along a river, clear and bright,
saw bubbling notes like dappled fish at play,
and dashed them off that night by candlelight.
Meandering down coniferous-scented trails
where chickadees and tree frogs made such noise,
he didn’t hear a thing except the scales
and chords and cadences that were his toys.
He couldn’t hear the leaves in the aspen thickets,
the deer flies buzzing round his graying hair,
the sound of countless madly rasping crickets,
nor the peals of far-off thunder in the air.
Yet who can miss those leaves, that summer breeze,
that river rushing through his symphonies?

(Appeared in The Society of Classical Poets.)

Martin Elster 05-20-2021 01:22 PM

String Theory

Since everything’s made of curved space,
the universe came into being
from nothing, for everything’s nothing.
So while spending some time at my place,
since all that we are is vibration,
if we chance to be face to face,
perhaps about to embrace,
remember we’re nothing but string-loops.
When by accident fingers enlace
and our bodies get closer, imagine,
as we vibrate in other dimensions,
you’re my cello and I am your bass.

Martin Elster 05-20-2021 01:26 PM

Rushing to the Gig

Walking the dog, then rushing to rehearsal

in traffic slow as slugs, exhaust from cars

making him gag, the place as far as Mars,

to play Variations On a Theme of Purcell

might seem to some a big ordeal, for what?

It wouldn’t have been so terrible had he

made sure to read the call sheet. For you see,

after he got through walking the small mutt,

he took him home, then headed for a city

which wasn’t where the orchestra was meeting.

When he realized, his brain cells started beating

him up. But it was not such a great pity,

for then he raced and got to the right place.

It would have helped, though, to have brought his bass.

(Appeared in Light.)

Martin Elster 05-20-2021 01:41 PM

The Cymbal Player

As bows and fingers quiver strings,
as lungs and lips whip up the air,
as notes soar on great falcon wings,

one player, seated in his chair
like a finch hid in a maple tree,
as if the creature wouldn’t dare

trill out above the symphony
(perhaps in fear of being caught
by a raptor high above the lea),

begins to rise like an afterthought
amid the pianissimos
and, like a hunter’s rifle shot

as bright as ninety-nine rainbows
of overtones, he spreads, then hits
two plates together. The ether glows

like sunlight through the woods. He sits
back down. And yet the clang still rings
and darts and dances, flutters, flits

and, for the merest moment, clings,
then fades away like all brief things.

(Originally appeared in The Chimaera.)

Martin Elster 05-20-2021 01:42 PM

A Change of Tune

While Abbie ambles round the food emporium
a shower of shallow ditties from the ceiling
renders her skull an empty auditorium.
She reaches for a carton of Darjeeling
and slips it in her shoulder bag. Is stealing
from stores that spew such pabulum so wrong?
As Abbie nears the apples, an appealing
melody makes her stop. No shopworn song,

but Bach — far out! — played by E. Power Biggs.
She grabs some miso (joy of man’s desiring),
St. Matthew Passion fruit, preludes and figs,
a wedge of Brandenburg. (Perhaps they’re hiring!)
But now she has to leave, her bliss too brief:
Muzak again. And, yes, she’s still a thief.

Variation of L12:
a few selected sweets. (Perhaps they’re hiring!)

Martin Elster 05-20-2021 01:46 PM

Cherry Blossom Reverie

On Hearing Keiko Abe Play the Marimba

As mallets frolic, leap and fall
and blur into a cloud of flowers,
the rosewood fills the spacious hall

with dazzling white sakura showers
borne from the tree we picnicked under,
all our minutes, all our hours

passing like this tuneful wonder
quickening my memory
and, wild as taiko-drumming-thunder,

we danced beneath that floral tree
that shook the garlands from its hair.
That night I dreamed a glorious sea

of petals washed ashore, the air,
the land, our very souls in thrall
to blossoms blowing everywhere.

I see you whirling in the squall
as mallets frolic, leap and fall.

(Appeared in Cahoodaloodaling and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily.)

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