Tag Archives: music

NaPoWriMo Day 14 – Breathe

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We crouch, soul to mind
sole to ground, hand to soil
inhale, shift eyes, gaze up
prepare – count as

we beat, we strike, foot-
strike toe-to-heel, absorb
the world, the wind, the sound
in flux – flowing as

we flex, propulsion forward
through space extend, time
stop flowing, hold the beat
beat the track feel
the pulse as

we race, hearts pacing
pumping blood coursing
through, rushing by
streaming through veins
heart beating constant speed
building faster
higher peaking

exhale.

The first title for this one was ‘And we run’. But I then remembered a song by Within Temptation called just that, and decided not to. You can listen to it here, though: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhKEVRrSJZo.

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NaPoWriMo Day 8 – The Song’s Strength

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I fall for the song’s strength:
if only I could conquer the earth
with my poems and make it tremble
beneath the poetry of song.
So I seed words, a watchful
sower of meagre clumps of soil
and still someone will rise to listen
one with a secret song in their heart
one who unravels, for a while, the spool
of their lively imagination.

[Original Italian by Alda Merini, ‘Il volume del canto‘.]

Lady sings the blues

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Black? Can’t you see?
Singer? Listen and you’ll see
Whore? Yes, I did that too
And I drink like four men
You don’t scare me, I’ve played in worse places than this
Southern cowboy bars where they spat on me
A city where a black man was lynched that same day
New Orleans where a fashionable devil
Brought me drug bouquets each night
Chicago I fell for a syphilitic trumpeter
And as I left the club they smashed my teeth
In the rain between one station and the next
Lady sings the blues

Black? Yes, but I’m used to it
Singer? Like a birdcage
Low and high notes, the whole range
I can flutter like those celluloid beauties
And then strike you with a ballad to the heart
You want strange fruit? You want midnight train?
I can sing it drunk
or with a knife in my back
or full of whisky and what else, I’m a saint
And my altar is here, this smoke, this stage
where lady sings the blues

Black? Yes, and beautiful, man
Singer? All I know how to do
Whore? Yeah, I did that too
And I drink like four men
Don’t touch me or I’ll rip that white face off you
Put down your drink, open what little heart you have
Shut up and listen – I sing
as though it was the last time
Shut up, bastards, and kneel
lady sings the blues

And as you go home say it
I heard an angel sing
wings of marble and satin
stench of whisky, sick black whore
Tell everyone my name, don’t forget
I am the ruler of a rag realm
I am the sun voice on the cottonfields
I am the black voice of light
I am the lady who sings the blues
Oh, and one more thing… I’m Billie
Billie Holiday

(Original Italian by Stefano Benni – Lady sings the blues)

NaPoWriMo Day 16 – 1979

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A few solitary notes
as instruments are roused
from their slumber.
Lights dim.

You invited us into your memories
and along a troubled road
littered with diffidence and pride.

But you promised we’d get through the night
as long as we trusted you, and listened.
So we sang with you and we walked with you
we danced with you and we rode the tiger.

We found new friends along the way
and seasons passed and changed.
We felt the warmth of homes and fires
of dust and sand and ash and wind.
We found god and remembered we don’t care.

You told us of drifting, and keeping too much in
so we cried with you, and loved with you,
and as you, loved again.

And as you ushered us back home,
we cheered you and smiled.
Leaving your fading memories
to other stages, and other crowds.

Lights dim.
A few solitary words
still linger
just behind the bar.

——
Credits
Good part of the poem is inspired by the lyrics and/or titles of the Pain of Salvation, Anneke van Giersbergen and Árstíðir concert setlist in London, 15th April 2013.

NaPoWriMo Day 2 – Soundwords

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To say the truth, I’m no musician
and barely a poet.
I’m just playing with the idea
of connecting the dots and lines and
pauses in between.

Reading the meaning
between the lines
and finding there is none.
So I’ll invent one.

I hear the words humming
of years and time and sex
of what had happened once
and that one ex.
Yes, that one.

I see the music playing
soundtracks to other lives
other stories other times
all those other things
that could have been.

I smell the words around us
of mornings and leftovers,
are you sure and should we really?

I taste the music around us
a touch of eager sweetness,
playful and, of course, bitter.

But most of all
I feel them.

The words and the music
chasing each other.
Music and words
avoiding each other.
A syncopated dance
of mutual shunning,
a scornful waltz
of unwelcome attraction,
a symphony
of discordance.

A single note

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It begins with a single note.
A brief scribble on a bit of paper
a rarity in this electronic age.
You can’t read the handwriting
but you don’t care:
the music starts playing.
The note is followed
by others, black on white
stains of ink and sound
on the blank page.
The vast, unknown field
of untrodden words.
But it began with a single note.
A beat of the heart
A tick of the pen
Then the words start flowing
rushing through the snow-field
like blackbirds seeking seeds.
They shuffle among themselves
pecking at the ground
leaving tracks in the soil.
Then, as one, they lift off,
the sound of rushing wings
reminds you of the strings
that followed that single note.
But one stays behind
one single blackbird.
A full stop on the page
a comma in the field,
it pauses the track,
looking for that last germ
of something great, buried
deep beneath the leaves.
You leave it pecking
as you move away from the page;
the characters, the lines
left to their own lives.
And the music ends as it begins:
with a single note.

(Published on Poetry&Audience, summer 2011, vol. 46 n.1)