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.
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