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Improvisation: After Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto

Improvisation: After Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto

for Harpsichord & Piano

The sky is falling. God save the sky. & all its inhabitants. In the distance. The people herd their kids – Pump gas for a quick escape.

Waterfalls & Monday mornings.

A calliope sails over the town – All the horses . . . Jane & Alice jump rope double-dutch. Arnold with his hair-lip & body odor wrestles his dog Icarus.

& here’s where the waiter brings coffee & a sweet to brighten the day.

Lollipops all round.

Who but a clumsy butcher would have stood for this mess? Shush. It’s a false start for sure. Here, give me your hand – one brother to another.

Hurricanes & poison ivy,

Wait. There’s trickle of water through the crack in the dike. Make way for modern warfare. Chomp / Chomp

& so it goes. A running start. For a startled eye. Another reason. To wear rubber shoes. Another reason. To wear rubbers. Another. Mistake. Shush.

Hear it? The volume’s turned up. The band’s chasing false gods again. Here. Pass the muffins & cold turkey.

Yes. Go. Cold turkey. It’s been done by less than you. Someone whispers. Off stage. It’s a secret. There’s only one way.

To find out. Bury the body here. In the same spot. Where. The horses fell. Where. The guns went off. Where. There’s no reason.

But go on you do. Hear the argument on the second floor? They’re at it again. Those two. Never could be trusted – lust for sure.

It’s best here in the ambulance. The apparatus. The bandages. The drugs &

handcuffs. What a spoiled sport you’ve become.

Come. Help me harness the wagon. There’s much to do before the sun sets & the rumblings begin again.

Do you think they’ll make it? I mean, make it out alive? Too much talk. Here, take a cigar it’ll calm your nerves.

Passively tasteless. All of you. Random acts of kindness. Random acts of torture. Random acts of memory.

On the next street over there’s a house with a man & women painted on the front door. They’re kissing. Blam. Blam. Blam.

It’s starting to rain kittens & clowns. I’m serious. For the first time I think I understand oblivion.

Mixmaster of fate, mistress of distress. It’s here the bells ring for the last time. Bing. Bing. Bing.

Be careful what you wish for. It comes in waves. Turtles & Labradors. In a minute the answer will flash across the screen. Are you ready?

Ready or not, here I come. & She. Balancing a ball on the lip of her nose or nose of her tongue or however it goes.

In the distance a horn & hound & running water & a lake appears with a woman rowing her dead husband across.

A mystery is unfolding. Open your hand. Take it in. Do not separate yourself. I thought you’d never ask. Of course it was.

Smothering donkeys.

Shush. They’re at it again. The rustling in the weeds has stopped. All you can see are the heads. What about . . .?

Don’t you ever tire? It was like this last time. It’s no joke. Listen! The violin’s behind the weeping willow. A Rolls covered in quarters

or are they diamonds? There’s never enough time. Trim the sails. We’re headed into weather. Keep out a sharp eye.

Wear it on your lapel. Like a flag. Yes. That’s it. Like a furled, fluffy, funny, forsaken & forbidding . . . flag.

& here the romance ends – just in time. The next round is scheduled for the time before. Trust me. I’m always prepared.

The chimes now. No more time for foreplay. Get to it. Yes. The dance-master holds all the cards &

it’s getting late. Time for your nap. I’m certain they’ll understand. You’ve been so good. That’s right. Like that. . . Just. Like. That.

Don’t be ashamed. Never concede. I’ll carry the bags. You run ahead. November is always a mystery.

When the champion enters the room everyone applauds. Everyone except Roman with his bag of chips & dirty underwear.

Who invited him? But there’s the Champagne & what a racket it makes & bundles of pillows & scads of skittles &

beer all around. & around & around they go – Bing. Bing. Bing. – the bells again & the whip & gun.

If I had my way. Sunrise at six fifteen. Fourteen hours of sunlight. Getting close. Getting together. Getting it on.

& here they come again. Up the stairs & down the hall to grandmother’s chocolate cake & gin rummy & pop goes the weasel & . . .

Climbing back & the rat-a-tat-tat of rockets in the hands of the plumber with yellow eyes & a bald baton. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

Make it stop, make it stop now. There is no winner only the excitement of battle & the bird on the wing & the winged scorpion & . . .

Chug-a-chug-a chug. Around each bend is another bend. Tick-Tock Tick-Tock & a gaggle of geese.

& so it goes, one behind the other, into the murmuring mist & crocodile tears. & so

to one & all & all for one – Goodnight.

Sonata No. 11 – Op. 22

Sonata No. 11 – Op. 22

Come on. There’s a celebration at the house next-door & we’re invited. One flight up. There. See the guy at the piano. He writes this stuff. Yes. Right. That’s him. Of course you can. But not yet. Give him a chance. & while you’re at it pass the pipe. Never can tell. Never can be sure. One thing we’ve learned these startlingly antiseptic days. Can’t trust the fat-man all decked out in his in red-on-white-on-blue pretender-ware. Can’t abide those wielding baseball bats, iron pipe & Nazi Banners. No place for lies & subterfuge. At last count 110,000 dead & climbing. I wonder what B would have said about this ‘grand’ calamity. But. Back to music: Being lulled & lavished & lulled again -Then -Up the stairs. To the kitchen. They’re passing out eclairs & tastes of Fonseca Tawny 20. Still get off on good eats & good drink. Miss family though & friends. Wait. He’s about done &…

Sonata No. 8 – Op. 13

Sonata No. 8 – Op. 13

Measured. Relaxed. A singular, gentle moment. & so it continues. Sunlight toying with those gauzy yellow curtains. A white cat licking herself clean. Glide of an eagle. Whisper of affection between lovers. Trip down a slow river on a barge packed with barrels of apples. One sailor on his flute, another, scratches a muted rhythm on the railing. It’s the calm before truth. Or. A lie. Once, in the midst of an argument with his father, the boy mentioned a lipstick stain on his father’s collar. How quiet the house seemed. & another time, in another place, many years later, when the father asked the boy if he was a drug dealer. How noisy the quiet seemed. Don’t you think a little rain would be nice’! Daylilies are in bloom & imagine how many more would … & It was then. The sky did seem to open & rain cascaded down the mountain & The entire meadow leapt with the flight of sparrows & the rustling creatures under the glistening grass. It only look a moment. & Then. All. Was. Quiet.

N0.22 Opus 54 Piano Sonata No. 22 in F (1804)

N0.22 Opus 54 Piano Sonata No. 22 in F (1804)

l walk with you. Yes. & I hold your hand. & Yes. Feel your body vibrate & hum & mine as well. Yes. These walks. Our. Reassuring. Interludes. Take-in the clear spring air. Monarchs & Swallowtails – On the wing. & Crocus & Jonquil & Lilac & Yes. Kites & mini-drones & squirrels & A few audacious rabbits & deer with their fawn & Beggars too. Yes. Homeless Hungry. Use to walking. Yes. Spring & Winter & Summer & Yes. They’re Here & There. Around lakes & in underpasses & under benches & inside crates & handmade cardboard cocoons. They walk & sleep & count time with chalk on walls & floors & anywhere they’ve sat, or stood or laid down. Yes. Spring. Yes. Respite from winter. Our harsh accounting. Rebirth. For all that breathe & run-their-days-down. Each in the hunt for any kind of calm & quiet & safety & peace. Lines at the missions are longer & as we pass we tremble in the face of our inadequacy. In the face of our Curse & Dilemma: Abject Poverty. Allowed. To. Exist. In the Midst. Of. Excessive Prosperity. How meager our role. How painful our guilt & Yes. Spring has sprung. Nature. Aglow in its pleasures. Listen. On the breeze. Caressing new buds. A challenge: ”Awake” “Awake” “Awake” The call reverberates & Again urges: No more bullshit. No more excuses. Pony-up. It is truly. Our Time Now – Harness & Deliver -The Resolute & Redemptive Response. Do it Or. Be. Forever Or ... Is it so hard? So distasteful? Wondering. Aloud. Sounds like. Recriminations run a muck. As always Or so it seems. One man down. Another on fire. Cities & towns. The Constitution of a Country: Mutilated. Muddied. Masticated. At best. Four hundred years. Hate & Despair (The Twins) Planted. Nurtured & Transplanted, Over & Over & Over. Culture to Culture. &. Where there arc flames. There are sources. Where hate & division flourish. There arc sources. Open the paper. Breathe. Last night’s smoke. Can’t hear? Tum off the sirens, The ringingrounds. of. Automatic Fire. The shrieks of the Desperate & the Assaulted. Ludwig Van would be Disturbed. Troubled. Irate. This Sonata would not be without pain As it is. A sublime tribute to his musical mischief. A Portrait or Celebration. Enfolding. Around Us. Here’s, Cake. To be cut. & Brandy. To be poured . Step Right Up. For the sake of fiesta. Slake your thirst my sisters, my brothers. With hope & promise fulfilled. Tomorrow will he kinder & gentler. Yes. A choral cheer. & Here. Come. The revelers. A bit. Disheveled. Always. Ready. For. More. So. Pass your glass & Share a toke. There’s plenty more to come. Hurrah & Hurrah & Once again Hurrah. . . & So It Goes. .

“Watch out,”

he said & disappeared into the crowd – “Nuts,” she thought but later in the day when the big brown dog chased her down the alley & a man waited with a van & . . . & by the time they got to Tucson the last she remembered was the radio & a voice that said the border was closed & he encouraging her to dance ‘in the light of the moon’ as it was full & when he took her in his arms & whirled her across the desert floor she gave herself to impulse & married him on the spot – for that night at least – & that’s what he’d tell his friends in Harry’s Bar until Sunday when she stormed the door & dazzled them with her footwork & backed him flailing into a night of no return when the lights went out & he’d never be seen again.

There Are Mothers

wheeling buggies over hot coals, messengers high on blue smoke & tabloids greasing the gears of genocide. There’s a father further down the boulevard dancing belly to belly with a boy in black who offers a chocolate kiss & hisses in his one good ear; his tongue a torch to light the way to heaven’s gate. There’s a mother practiced in cures for an ailing head but nothing for a heart awash in dread who worships at the door where a mouth delivers a basket of lies. This is no time to question authority, shutter your windows or leave in the dark. & yet, there are mothers huddled with children in the woods who barter themselves for a second chance. They’re tough & they’re wanton . . . between screams & whispers, they have & they will abide.


There are men & women who cannot see the sun rise without suffering a crippling pain between their eyes . . . those who fear the ticking of a clock.


An out-of-work carpenter in Sicily sets himself on fire on the steps of the Palermo Municipal Courthouse. His note reads: I am ruined.

Dimitris Papadopoulos, a recently laid-off insurance exec in Athens Greece, shoots dead his two kids, his wife & himself.


Where there’s a garden in full flower, some see only the falling petals – a viper where a young kid pirouettes & prances.


Andreu Font, a Spanish geology professor who lost his job when his college was forced to close, hangs himself from a mid-town lamp post.

In Toledo Ohio, in front of a glass factory where he once worked, Robert Hall props the muzzle of a 12-gauge under his chin & pulls the trigger.


Where the mountains meet the sea, there are those who dread the untamable rage of the catapulting surf – the tranquility of the receding waves.


On May 25, 2011, Fay Yee calls her neighbor to ask her to look after her Collie pup then leaps to her death from the Golden Gate Bridge.


There are men & women who cannot see the sun rise without suffering a crippling pain between their eyes . . .

After John Zorn’s Masada (Live In Taipei) 1995 Disc #1

What does one call the ones who breach the gates, the ones who whip the dispossessed, drag our young women behind the wall to shame them with their fondling? What is there in our slim vocabulary to drive pain up the spine, to churn the bowels, cause the retching blood? Shebuah! & spit in the dust between their feet. Shebuah! & raise a furious fist that will never be mistaken for peace. Shebuah! & burn their first born behind their eye . . . where they are sure to find them crisp & cold.

Shebuah – Curse – An Oath

After: ‘Six Marimbas’ Music by Steve Reich

Water: Flowing. Falling. Running. Water & Air & Fire & Earth &

They circle twice & come in low. Their ears twitch. Tongues dart.
From the brush they walk to the edge:

Take my eyes & run with them. Take my arms & craft a new room.
Take my legs & beat a path to the waves.

In your hands I’m liable for death.
In your bed I birth the lame & the mute.

Speak to me of fire, of the scars on the belly. Speak of flames in your bowels, your hot rejections.

Care for her. She’s the feather in our last nest. Wear her with pride.
Take me under the bridge & tear out my tongue.

Breathe through your mask. Breathe & at arms length dance & as you glide & spin you’ll turn & slip over the wall.

As the sun slows to sleep I feel your breath on my back & open my hands to offer the last bowl.

Here. I have made it for you. Drink.

After: ‘Punch Press Pull’ No Stars Please Music by The Trummerflors Collective

Can you remember that first drum, the one with the metal rim & those sticks with their cotton knobs & how you proudly marched around the living room & the freight train that whistled by at precisely four thirty every Tuesday & Julie’s eyes which were alternately blue & green & how she taunted you across the fence & her dog Buckskin who howled into the night & running home to mom with a broken tooth & no one home & blood in your mouth & the long climb to the roof where he was hammering away at his homemade boat & Jeremiah practicing his saxophone & the sun heating the tar to soup & that time Andrea fell through the skylight & had to be stitched quickly & butterflies on the milkweed & the sheriff coming after you with a warrant & everyone staring & pointing their fingers & turning away & how you left town & hitchhiked to Canada & the waitress who thought you were from California & offered her bed & stole the money from your boot & the last day of July when you won sixty on the slots & caught the bus which crashed in Detroit & the war games with live ammo & a jazz band on a flatbed & the B & O which ran all the way home & no one there to meet you except a guy playing bongos on a bench & a small girl asleep in his lap.