Thursday, January 30, 2014

Poem: Lament of the Opera Critic

Lament of the Opera Critic

I hereby apologize to all tenors, soprani, baritones, mezzos
for the finely crafted butchery I am about to perform
but pouring gallon after gallon of music into a pint jar
one is bound to spill

Suzuki, Butterfly
what you did just there
that long-stemmed Janus tone
witchcraft limbs spread out over a Nagasaki hilltop
drilled into your lungs and throat
memory of your muscles
countless green-room repetitions

It's gone, I'm sorry
no more than a comma, a police department sketch

Yankee pig, treble slut
coming in cold from the waterfront
spinning out great reeling ribbons of sound
straight through the wall of orchestra as if
you had been saving breath
all the way across the Pacific

It's gone, I'm sorry
modifying phrase, leaf on a koi pond

Madame set designer
you with the boxtop moon and skateboard walls
sliding around like wolves in a pack
Monsieur conductor
free-barter tradesman of tempo
figuring tariffs between pit and stage and
launching great ships with a stick
And you, ever-neglected oboist
waking the grieving bride from her sleep

I am so, so sorry
but this portal of ink is a rough, dull instrument
a chopstick in the hands of a Texan
trying to scoop up any measure of your depths but
falling always short
See the rainfall of black rice on newsprint
your sweat, your breath
the calluses on your fingertips
the numbers dancing through your head
the imitation heartbeat pacing your limbs

But believe me
for all the dripped-off ice
cream warmed-over last
week's chow mein pared-off gristle
that I parade as journalism

I admire you all the more
am constantly thrilled at the way you
turn yourselves inside-out on the
carousel pegs of a Saturday night
just so you and I and a thousand others may
live someone else's life, die someone else's death
and sing a song of centuries

First published in Comrades.

Photo by MJV

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