LUTE MUSIC Yeats said music makes us crazy. At its behest, lazy distracted men and women fall into swamps or drown embracing the moon. Oh but that was booze, the test that Li Po failed, flailing visibly in silence, out of air and out of time. No grace there but in the poetry, the story of his life. Poets choose to live or die by music, says the muse from out of nowhere. THE MIDDLE OF A LIFE It is all tragedy and cows. Ken Norris, “The Middle” No sudden spectral hallucinations compromise its earthy certainties: heavy snow and baby pee and too little sleep. Sex is no longer a tutelary god but planned, like dinner. The prospect of Mexican take-out terrorizes our week. None of the local joints is a winner. Chronic back pain makes a poet cranky, and it’s hard to read a novel: there’s little time for that. The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis took three long months, and Poe’s Eureka, whatever it is, is like the dishes: once a day for twenty minutes. The Register gets more attention. But then the Dona nobis pacem of Bach’s B-minor Mass comes on the radio and changes everything. The babies prick their ears and Kelly smiles. There’s nothing bovine in the day’s devotions, ever. Never disbelieve the flesh or weather even at their tragic worst. Love imbricates everything we, loving, do. _____ Bruce Whiteman is a poet and book reviewer. He lives in Toronto.