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Grey Sparrow Journal

Issue 30, July 31, 2017
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CENTO SONNET: AT A VIOLIN MASTER CLASS

You don’t have to be so punctual;
you’re absolutely in tempo and totally wrong.
Play it so as to make yourself drool in your f-hole.
Be Marilyn Horne--she used her big chest to sing.

Schmaltz has a place; serenade the audience.
Less pretty, more grotesque.  More dynamic contrast.
Let yourself have some impulsive moments.
You need to breathe.  A violinist is not a dentist.

You don’t have time to set your hair on fire
to get their attention, so try some other way.
I need to hear you; start dolce, but don’t disappear.
More resonance, less yip-yip like a chihuahua.
I want that same energy, but softer is better.
This passage needs more bow; spread peanut butter.

                                —Philip Dacey  

 

         

HORSES


They rode in the rain, father, daughter, son,
in Ireland, on horses rented
for an hour, but the rain would not relent
and soaked them to the skin.

To see them riding in the rain,
you could not tell their history—
a recent divorce, the trip a way
to ride beyond the deep pour of pain.

It was their last day on that isle.
Before they flew away, they simply had
to meet their long-planned goal: a ride
on horseback on ancestral Irish soil,

rain or no.  As a horse gestures with a toss
of its mane, so did these gesture
by circling the wet, green pasture
in the aftermath of loss,

three united in their will to sit tall

in any weather, savoring the creak
and feel of leather atop a strong back
all muscle and hide, before farewell.

 

                                —Philip Dacey        



RUNNING ON GRASS

I keep tripping on the roots of trees
as if I had my head in a cloud.
Something wants to bring me to my knees.

Could it be my ancestors, their histories,
all they did (or didn’t do) become fingers of wood?
I keep tripping over the roots of trees.

Or maybe it’s my own history that has
a hand in this.  Just when I think I’ve got it good,
something almost brings me to my knees.

The human race, its dark propensities?
For solving problems, doses of spilled blood.
So I keep tripping on the roots of trees.

Or maybe I’m in thrall to all of these,
the roots the sum of every force that would
bring me crashing to my knees

and thus return me home, gravity’s
pull lover-Earth’s in a come-hither mood.

I keep tripping on the roots of trees.
Something wants to bring me to my knees.

 

                                —Philip Dacey