Monday, September 30, 2013

The Chord

©  by Steve King
All rights reserved


I sometimes hear so much,
listening relentlessly,       
wrapped in high solemnity,
gliding through the grand design
of vast symphonic harmony;

and sometimes too
within the passing threads
of lurid, jazz-infused improv

or lingering in funerary drones,
buzzing voices lowered
in purest dread tones;

and always in a stinging riff of rock and roll:
taut strings stretching to their ends
to spin a dance of fleet arpeggios,
stuttering like broken speech,
balancing atop that odd backbeat.

And I have heard the music breed
in small measuring breaths
when leaves stir
and hollow spaces speak
with the songs of wind,
each night the winds across the valley,
echoing some furthest peak.

And from the very center,
the roar of fire gods,
their murderous bass notes,
song emergent from the core;
a universe of tones
hardly random or ill formed;
a reservoir of nascent sound
in which all other harmonies abound.


Then, too, come strange calls
alive to greet my listening,
wandering through new discovered streets,
to find a certain way:
lamplight to lamplight,
slipping between shadows,
past shuttered doors and darkened alleyways;
stepping deftly
around children without faces,
there, amid each rising moan and incantation,
cantatas of regret
that stir long in dark places;
lamentations of desires undone,
abject songs of silly midnight dares
invoking quick embrace and needy stares;
last calls and come-ons to indifferent ears;
even the measure of caesura
when the weight of all emptiness
shall have won

as when darkness shutters every yearning sense,
and arms hang empty at the sides,
emptyemptyempty again,
surrendering to the usual absence,
while one devises painless ways
to make decent amends,
while all the old longings intensify;
while the shadow steals
to fill another vacant dream
and color the old rhymes
the mind rehearsing different ways
to sing old songs,
wanting only the one decent key,
a constant cadence again in each familiar space,
reminding, to be sure
within the hollowed meter
of each muted phrase
of ancient gladnesses,
and, looming in the minds half-light,
imagined facades of repose


So now, within these attic shadows,
folded deep beneath a night,
please to linger with me here,
listening, quiet at the last,
waiting for fled things to reappear;
when silence shall again retreat,
to fill some others emptiness;
the music turning as the first,
stillness yielding in its train,
every shadow singing out.

And please to tell me why,
with all the music
waiting to be heard,
there still rings ever clear in memory,
in singing presence lost only to time,
the unrelenting tones,
in lyric voice that I would gladly claim no more,
chiming as a solemn chord,
the one echo I try so to ignore:

the biding murmur of that distant wave
breaking slowly on the rising shoal
forever set to cast its falling note
and sing, relentless, to its empty shore

gathering its long-abandoned airs,
to measure me within the hold
of  once familiar strains.


And yes, the way old words lie waiting to be heard again;
the way old words would once again be said,
the way old words lie waiting for new song
as if they might gently live on,
as if meaning may yet cling
all else gone.

All else.


That soft postlude to resonate
across ensuing days;
always to replay,
ever to unfold,
while all the music else,
so charmed in each refined reply,
yields, surely as a cresting tide
called homeward by its distant moon,
slipping sure away.

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