Bruce Whiteman: from Tablature


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.



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.