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I'm a damned ass, can't remember what it's all about;
think I do and hope I do; but wait, my friend,
that's not where I am; for as I sit here, mumbling,
I can't remember, not what technical matters are.

Even though there's a chill in the air, the sun
reminds me that I really should remember what light
can do when I allow myself to pause for awhile
at bright windows beyond which trees are leafless.

Wait, I tell myself, wasn't there once another way
to pull it all together? Well, maybe so, I think;
but maybe that was only because I needed to hope,
needed to hope there was a way beyond those trees.

Surely somewhere, there, around that pond
the way becomes clear; and if I follow closely,
then maybe I'll suddenly stumble into view of what
I always knew was just beyond where I hoped it was.

It's like a painting I've often told myself, where blue
still called attention to that angry girl who waited
and tried to tell me that it was not to be,
not with me or her, not with where we were.

And so there's another beginning, another Monday;
and even though the chill has held to the sun,
I laugh at myself and try to make sure I see
a way that wanders through those trees.

It does; and see, we could wander over there
or there, and find a way to where the end might say,
see, I told you so, told you that all you had to do
was wander out where you weren't really sure.


I now watch the news on CNN and wonder
at the similarities to comedies I watched
when I was ill and lay in bed and tried to sleep
and keep from laughing and lost my breath. It's just
a guy I tell myself, some ego who wants to be
on covers of weekly magazines; you know that's he
when next Monday's issue arrives at the door
with someone insisting he wants to be our president
but will not insist we bow as he enters the room.

Perhaps another encounter is just the one I had
when I suddenly open a folder from last week
and find the nine lines that start this casual poem
that had not seemed to be moving anywhere else.
But it is, now; look, it still reflects the news
in ways that leave me sighing with giggles or regret,
the way those candidates do when they insist
that we should vote for them, should see in them
an answer to all our prayers as we try to move on.

Maybe it's just a meandering through crowded pages
in a book I never thought would be so empty;
or is it just what happens as we get older and wonder
why books we use to think so important to our lives
now linger beside the bed and no longer hold attention
and gather dust we never thought would hide words
that once held hope and love and called from the dark
to warn us of what these politicians might do if allowed
to have their way, if we don't laugh them down.


So, once again, I push through celebrations
that Mozart must have felt as another sonata
came alive on sheets of paper where I found them
and they echoed through a narrow room
so long ago I thought that he and I were brothers
though I had only seen him on the back
of a thick book of notes that now, so much later,
comes apart on a shelf behind the piano.

Today, I lay naked on the massage table as a piano
moved with his notes and took me into some
other world where I forgot what pain is all about,
or how life will hang together, where it
will end, or what modulation will say THAT'S IT.
It's time to find where I left my clothes,
to dress and take a deep breath that says
I'll now remember which one this is.

It's hard to do that, to remember; it's hard
to slip onto a piano bench and ask a tonal question
that Mozart did on one chilly winter afternoon
that was spoiled by a summer evening when I played
in the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel and was sure that he
was somewhere listening to how it might go;
but then it didn't and I never played again in public,
though wondered if he knew it was my fault.

Amadeus never had the problems that I had,
but I was never pushed so far to the edge as he;
he always knew he had to find a crest of sound
that would carry him beyond a shadowy life
he must have known he was living
for all the short life that he would live, while I
went on and on for decades, into years
where I would write many sets of verbal variations.