At the Fourth of July parade
he wouldn’t stand for the flag.
Slumped in a fold-up chair,
cowboy hat low over thick eyebrows,
tapping his metal-toed boot
against a crack in the pavement.
I’m sure he stuck out—a lost tooth in a smile,
a nubbed finger in a wave, the absence
of what you’ve been conditioned to see.
When I think of Stuart, he’s at his farm;
he pats the back of his strongest mare,
she neighs, and trots away,
splitting clods of manure and dirt.
He picks up a stiff leg,
thumbs the round scar on his thigh
through dusty jeans,
and turns to warm his face on the morning.
I SEE MY OWN MRI
and the vertebrae gleam silver,
like collected nodes of moonlight,
keys of a ghostly piano
waiting to be played,
as though Beethoven’s sonata were a look
inside the self, the ostinato of the thrumming heart,
the anatomy turned inside-out. There—
the same bones that folded
to my last recital bench, cushioned
by dimples and rivulets
in front of the baby grand,
an instrument with its own viscera:
the lid prop like glossed black skin
over a cast iron frame, a sinewy soundboard,
hammer and string guts.
I always wanted to look inside while I played,
see the smooth padded action,
watch the steely vibrations.
It’s the only piece I know anymore,
traces evident in this inner picture.
These are the melodies of the protoplasm,
chiseled from the deep strata of composition,
excavated, assembled in score, alive.
When I sit at the keys now, and hunch,
and bend, and sway, I wonder
if it’s that old dialogue between the staff and the spine,
the fossils of music never extinct.
B. L. Homuth
Written in the quiet confines of my apartment
July 29, 2014
"An Old Man's Head"
Oil on Canvas - 19th Century
George Elgar Hicks