Verse – Polyphony in Poetry

For a poem to sing
must it be in a song?:
Is a melody needed
beyond a mere drone?
Can the words on a page
create true harmony?
Are duets possible
realistically?

I cannot write
a round, a round.
A canon cannot
make one sound.

Each syllable makes just one note:
no melisma in poet’s throat…

to find one’s voice
amid the cacophony
of post-industrial, technological
society (with advertisements
POPPING UP everywhere)
is difficult enough without
hoping to be the J.S. Bach
of modern literature

One line at a time,
No need for a rhyme:
One chirp from a bird
is worth being heard.

Go to a concert for
polyphony.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Oct. 19, 2014

The Pianist (an acrostic)

Jowls quiver before he will play a note,Raise arm now

Each beat and accent felt inside his frame.

In a swoop, the sounds will float,

Enter the air above the piano–same

Mozart motions when he directed, played:

Yes, fellow genius, centuries apart…

Drums, trumpets, strings, a dance, a dirge–all made

Entirely one, unity from the start.

No score for pianist. Eyes are often shut

Keys are played from memory, mind…and heart.

BACKGROUND:The San Francisco Symphony, Directed by Michael Tilson Thomas, played tonight at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. The Mozart Piano Concerto No. 25 in C Major (1786) was performed by Jeremy Denk, who in September received a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Grant. He is a writer for the New Yorker & has a blog recently selected by the Library of Congress Web Archives.

– Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL, Nov. 15, 2013

After the Joyful Concert

Post Concert Animal Triste

Sixty of us sang
under one baton
spirituals and folk
songs to SRO
crowd of friends and fans
standing clapping some
shouting AMEN when
soloist filled church
with his ringing sound

Now the silence rings
through the empty space
in between my ears
early the next day
snatches of the songs
come and go glow then
fade finally bring
ashes to my tongue

never again sing

[Post coitum omni animal triste est–after sex all animals are sad] Steve Shoemaker
Urbana, IL, November 4, 2013