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.
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.